In the universe of New Girl, Winston Bishop occupies a strange spot. Sometimes he’s the voice of reason among his friends, talking Schmidt down off an emotional ledge; sometimes he’s the crazy one, arranging a bachelor party for a cat. But one thing’s for certain: He’s never given the credit of a full-fledged, starring plot.
Okay, so maybe his character is meant to serve a greater purpose than as a starring vehicle for the incredibly talented Lamorne Morris. Maybe Winston is there to provide some reliable comedic relief from all the relationship drama, or maybe he’s there to highlight the other players’ characteristics by contrasting with them in varying degrees. Maybe he (along with his recently added feline sidekick, Ferguson) is just there as a delightful dose of weird.
Whatever his purpose, Winston is often my favourite part of each New Girl installment, and I think we should all take a moment to be grateful for him. While we’re being grateful, let’s also get imaginative. After all, such a varied character is full of possibilities. What should be next for the most unsung loftmate? More cat hookups? More bus driver hookups? Here are my top five picks – some of which embrace his weirdo, fifth-wheel status, and some of which demand a little more respect. For the rest of you Winstonheads out there, feel free to add your own wish list in the comments!
Winston Saves Schmidt from Financial Crisis
What: Schmidt reveals that all his Ralph Lauren pants and chest waxing sessions have landed him in some serious debt. Winston bails him out, lending money along with some heartfelt teasing.
Why: Schmidt is often positioned in the group as the financially stable one – he can afford his rent in addition to nice clothes, expensive haircuts, and all the driving moccasins his heart desires. But in that respect, Schmidt’s also a bit of a spendthrift. This, coupled with the fact that he no longer has roommates to share his rent, means he’s kind of a financial disaster waiting to happen if he ever, say, lost his job. Meanwhile, Winston has been quietly building a career for a while now. He’s never ostentatious about his money, but he’s also never broke. He doesn’t seem to love extravagances, and there’s really only so much money he can spend on Ferguson.
Not only would Winston be in the financial position to offer money help to Schmidt, he’s also a dedicated friend. He’ll wait hours at a restaurant to save his pals a table, fighting off hipster interlopers. He’ll go camping because Nick wants to, even though he hates it. He’ll be a pawn in Jess’s grudge against a Chinese restaurant. Yes, as bananas as he may sometimes seem, Winston never shies from an opportunity to help a friend; financial problems would be no different.
This season we’ve had quite a few instances where Winston got to shine as a clown (garbage wheelchairs and lock jaw, anyone?), and only a few instances where he got to shine as a man. Helping Schmidt out of debt would give us a moment to reflect on Winston’s generosity and dedication as a friend, and his stability as a responsible, employed adult. And I’m sure he would have a good time poking fun at the douchebaggishness of Schmidt’s irresponsible spending habits, too.
Winston Starts a Business
What: Winston starts a weird, bound-to-fail business and nothing goes according to plan.
Why: Winston is a notoriously inventive man. Give him an injury, and he’ll find a wheelchair in a ditch! Give him a cheating girlfriend, and he’ll find a new friend in her cat! He’s not the flashiest guy, or the most ambitious, but he can be a dreamer sometimes, so it seems fitting that at some point he’d want to start a business of his own. He’s also surrounded by people who could inspire him, like Schmidt with his aggressive drive to succeed, or Nick with his janky inventions.
If Winston started a business, this could be a good story for everyone. Jess could get involved as the level-headed business manager, constantly trying to talk people down from crazy. Nick could unwittingly destroy everything with his crazy suggestions and disaster-magnet status. Schmidt could try to ramp everything up with a slick, Tom Haverford-style branding mission. Cece could get roped into being an unwilling Vanna White for the products. Yes, Winston’s small business could be a chance for everyone to get funny together. It could also be a source of conflict that draws attention to how these characters relate to one another, and to everyone’s individual strengths and flaws.
Winston Gets Married
What: Winston meets the woman of his dreams – his true soul mate – and they get married.
Why: Winston has only ever been granted one long-term, viable romantic interest: Shelby. And while that seemed to show promise, it eventually fizzled out. But when it was good (and when it was bad), we got to see that Winston had the potential to be a good partner. Sure, he’s immature sometimes; sure, he sometimes needs to be prompted to talk about his feelings… But everyone has flaws. Winston is also sweet and kind, and he seems genuinely appreciative when a woman is sweet and kind to him in return. So I’d like to see more of this. And I’d like to see Winston do something romantic and impulsive like a quickie wedding.
It would be fun to see where marriage took Winston. He could take Schmidt’s apartment, so Schmidt could fulfil his dream to move back with Nick, Jess, and Coach. Or maybe the wife would move into the loft, and there could be some fun tension between the two couples clashing. Also, whatever female character was concocted as a soul mate-level match for Winston would guarantee hour of entertainment. She would be weird and cooky, with a unique sense of logic, and would be capable of both slapstick humour and tender compassion. She would be a good friend. She would be a cat-lover. She would be unafraid to get half-naked. She would be patient enough to put up with Winston and his friends. She would be amazing, and a welcome addition to the generally male-dominated New Girl dynamic.
Winston Becomes an Artist
What: Winston’s latent artistic talents come out, and he takes up sculpture, turning the living room of the loft into his personal studio.
Why: Since Winston has never shown any artistic interests, this plot might seem a little out of left field. But keep in mind that Winston also never showed any interest in cats before he brought Ferguson home. So some little thing – perhaps something forced upon him, like a date taking him to Color Me Mine, or Jess asking for his help with an art class at school – could prompt a full-blown obsession for him. And then from there on out, it’s just pure comedy.
Think about it – Jess would be unconditionally encouraging, as her supportive teacher instincts kicked in. Schmidt would hate the mess it made. If Winston worked from models, that would introduce new bit players who could be all kinds of fun, and maybe Schmidt would hit on them. Maybe Nick would get jealous of the attention Winston’s hobby was getting, and take up painting or collage. Maybe Coach would get jealous, since he’s a total jock with no artistic leanings. Or better yet, maybe it would turn out that Coach is actually a really talented sculptor, and it would lead to some mean competition between the two characters (who have always intrinsically been presented as being in some sort of unspoken competition, like two sides of the same coin). Whatever the results, they would be madcap and hilarious, and everyone could get involved – with Winston as the star, of course. Perfection.
Winston Gets More Cats
What: A happenstance trip to an animal shelter leads to Winston adopting a bunch of cats.
Why: I don’t think I need to say much about this potential storyline; it kind of sells itself. Winston’s relationship with Ferguson has been a high point of this season of New Girl because it’s so many things at once. It’s bizarre and obsessive at times, and gentle and loving at others. Ferguson helped Winston through a painful breakup and betrayal; Winston helped Ferguson find a girlfriend. No one really understands their bond, but that doesn’t matter.
More cats would mean more craziness, and even if it didn’t last, it would be an interesting (if short-lived) source of conflict in the loft. One cat alone has caused a lot of trouble; just imagine what havoc 12 cats could wreak! Oh, and also? This plot has a major cute factor. Television can always use more cute.
Hannah McIlveen is a freelance graphic designer and TV-obsessed writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. She grew up riding horses and reading Roald Dahl books, got an art degree, and then spent the next several years moving around the country and watching television. Her greatest goals in life are to write good stuff, produce a web series, build a house with her husband, and have six cats at once. Hannah has contributed to BitchMagazine.org and is a staff blogger for the soon-to-launch TeenSized.com. She also writes her own daily blog, Click Watch Write. Hannah can be accosted on Twitter @ClickWatchWrite.