TV Time: New Girl 3.21


Title Big News

Two-Sentence Summary Jess and Nick each try to make the other believe they’re doing okay the day after their breakup. However, their emotions get the best of them during a celebration of Winston’s acceptance into the police academy.

Favorite Line “Well, this just in: The dress code for Winston’s banquet tonight is…optional.” (Schmidt)

My Thoughts I can’t lie; I’m struggling with New Girl right now. I wanted to enjoy “Big News,” and there were definitely some parts of it that entertained me and charmed me. I loved Cece being a genuinely good friend to Jess when she needed her the most. I loved the entire concept of the “Honey Roast,” including Winston’s white tuxedo. I loved Coach having to greet everyone with a hug, a kiss, and a formal bow because he had to keep Nick and Jess’s secret. Heck, I even loved the realistically awkward morning-after-breakup moments between Nick and Jess.

I applaud the New Girl cast for always selling the hell out whatever they’re given, and this is especially true for Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel. But I’m not sure I can pretend to like what they’re being given right now, and it’s affecting my overall enjoyment of the show in a pretty major way.

I know this is television— it’s fiction—so technically everything is contrived; everything is a way for the writers to get from Point A to Point B. The problem with New Girl right now is—for a show that seems to pride itself on going with the flow and not having an overarching plan—everything feels contrived; it feels forced. This episode was supposed to remind us, especially in that very sweet final scene, that Nick and Jess have a very loving and supportive friendship. But it felt so strange to me to watch two people who are heartbroken over losing each other help each other through their own relationship’s demise. If being apart was really causing them that much pain, then why go through with it at all? The answer: Because the writers wanted some drama, but they don’t have a plan for how to work through that drama now that they’ve created it.

If their breakup was supposed to have come about because they both know they have a lot of growing up to do, I could understand it. Instead, we were once again reminded that they broke up because they supposedly have nothing in common, which continues to feel all kinds of wrong. If you’re going to have the main couple of your show break up but spend the entirety of the next episode lamenting that breakup, you better have a good reason for it to have happened. Otherwise, you’ll have an audience who’s just sitting there wondering why Nick and Jess are apart if they’re both equally miserable about it and had a flimsy reason to break up in the first place.

I’ve never been someone who believed a Nick/Jess plot dragged down an episode before this one, but that’s exactly what happened in “Big News.” Winston’s big moment was completely overshadowed by Nick/Jess angst, and I hope that is the only time this happens. I’m also getting a little tired of the fact that every episode seems to feature Nick and/or Jess getting drunk or being under the influence of something. I know that’s blasphemy for some fans (and yes, drunk Nick can be very funny)—and I’m no teetotaler—but it’s getting to be a little excessive; it’s starting to feel like a fallback plan. It’s losing its humor from being relied on too much in both the comedic elements and general plot of the show.

Overall, I really liked what was going on with the supporting cast in “Big News,” but, for the first time, I thought Nick and Jess brought them down. I didn’t feel the sympathy for them that the show wanted me to feel. I think part of that comes from not believing the in-show reasons for their breakup, and I think another part comes from knowing that this can only end in two ways:

1.) Nick and Jess stay broken up
2.) Nick and Jess get back together

Option 1 would make me miserable as a viewer. And Option 2 makes everything that happens before then feel like a waiting game until the inevitable reunion. I really wish the show would have taken the risk of showing this couple working through their issues together because solid, happy relationships don’t have to be boring. But do you know what is boring? Watching tired sitcom clichés play out on a television show that I thought was above them.

8 thoughts on “TV Time: New Girl 3.21

  1. Yeah, that’s pretty much how I felt about the episode. I quite enjoyed it. But I just don’t see why Nick and Jess are broken up. If they need to “grow up” or whatever, can’t they do that while being a couple? Can’t they figure out what they do have in common without being broken up? If they broke up because they want fundamentally different things from life (such as one wanting kids and the other one not) I could understand that. But the reasoning just didn’t ring true in Mars Landing, and so now everything they say about being upset that they’re broken up just makes me want to yell “so don’t be broken up then! it’s your choice!” I just didn’t buy that decision at all. I appreciate what the writers wanted to do and why, but I just don’t think they executed it well. This is a show that doesn’t usually do things for dumb sitcom reasons, so I expect more.
    I did love Winston in his prominent chair (? is that what they called it?) with his very Game of Thrones rake, and a lot of other amusing moments in this episode. I’m wondering if we’re going to see much more of Winston’s police academy storyline going forward. I like the way they have been able to include Cece in a new context by having her bartend. And Coach is almost growing on me. I’m a little disappointed with the show right now, even though it’s still one of the better comedies on TV. (Thank goodness I’ve fallen for Once Upon a Time so I have something amazing to obsess and fangirl over! One more episode to watch and I’m all caught up!!)

    • First of all, I can’t believe you’re almost all caught up with Once Upon a Time, and I’m so happy you’re enjoying it! 😀

      Like you, I found myself in an interesting mental place while watching this episode. I enjoyed many parts of it, but the fact that I had so much difficulty with the writing of the breakup in the first place tainted everything I watched between Nick and Jess in this episode. I’m hoping the fallout from the breakup doesn’t become something that dominates the show, since I already didn’t enjoy the way it dragged down this episode. But I also don’t want to see the show pretend like it’s not affecting them because then I’ll start wondering why they got back together when they inevitably do. It’s a “catch-22” situation for me as a viewer, and it’s one that could have been avoided had the writers done a better job.

  2. YES. The show is trying to play it like they broke up because they think they’re not compatible and thus don’t have a future, however much they want to be together right now. Nick and Jess are worried that they’re better as friends than as a couple. The terrible thing is that from a narrative perspective, I almost agree, because they were so fun as friends who also wanted to be together, and they’ve been in constant conflict since they got together, and that’s not fun. BUT that’s only because the show wouldn’t let them have fun. Almost ALL of their fights this season have felt completely manufactured. It’s like the writers realized before the breakup that they didn’t WRITE Nick and Jess well as a couple (even though, when they were allowed to be happy, they were great together), so they got meta and had their characters say “look at us, we’re terrible as a couple” (which, yes, but it’s not your fault, babies) and then wiped the slate clean so they can write the relationship better next time. But if they’d just written it better this season from the start, OR IF THEY’D JUST DECIDED TO START WRITING IT BETTER NOW, then we could avoid this story, which is essentially the writers grafting their issues onto the characters.
    I may need to do a proper blog post on this subject, because I clearly have a lot of feelings.

    • Kelly! I’m so happy you’re here to share my angst with me! And if you do decide to write a proper blog post about this, I will love it because your thoughts from this comment perfectly encapsulate what my issues are with the way this breakup is being handled. The contrived nature of all of Nick and Jess’s conflicts this season disappointed me. And then I was further disappointed because those conflicts seemed to point to a problem with maturity and insecurity (for both of them) instead of incompatibility, which is what the show is trying to make us believe is the main issue between them. I feel like they settled on incompatibility because that’s something that’s almost impossible to work through together, while what I see as their real issues are things couples can tackle as partners. As you said, the writers seemed to feel like they needed a reason to have them say “we’re a terrible couple,” so they wrote with that in mind, which isn’t good writing at all.

      • I think they’re under the impression that breaking them up will somehow “fix” whatever they felt was making the show difficult to navigate this season. They’re going to be really disappointed when they finally (hopefully?) figure out that THESE AREN’T REAL PEOPLE. If you want something more out of your characters, then you actually have to WRITE THEM BETTER. I cannot for the life of me understand why they are completely missing the obvious that is right in front of them, they’re trying to write something into the characters/show that is so FAR from organic at this point. They’re trying to force a story, instead of just letting the characters lead them like they always have. If you want them to be funny and lighthearted, WRITE THEM THAT WAY. Where’s their great physical comedy from Menzies and Pepperwood? Where is their funny, yet heartfelt banter from Eggs, Relaunch, and Models? What’s with the obsession over all the teenage angst and drama?

  3. I agree with you 100000%!!!
    It’s everything I’ve been saying about this episode since last night and everything I’ve said about their relationship since the break-up.

  4. Pingback: The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (4/13 – 4/20) | Nerdy Girl Notes

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