New Girl 3.12 “Basketsball” Review: Nick’s Girlfriend

15 Jan

Watching sports can bring people together; this is the tactic Jess uses to ensure that Coach sees her as a friend rather than just Nick’s girlfriend to Coach. This creates a rift elsewhere due to the rivalry between the Pistons (who Coach supports) and the Bulls (Nick’s team) and Wikipedia (sorry my basketball knowledge is severely lacking) tells me that “The rivalry began in the late 1980s and was one of the most intense in NBA history for a couple of years.” So pretty much when Coach and Nick would have been getting into these teams. A sex ban is introduced and New Girl excels at the sweet mixed with the smut and “Basketsball” has both.

New Girl Jess and CoachIt’s been two months since Coach moved back in and Jess hasn’t managed to crack him in that time and when he refers to her as his “buddy’s girlfriend” it sends Jess into friendship project mode. Jess’ way in is basketball and this is something she admits she doesn’t know a whole lot about; the lack of knowledge about rivalries and what wearing a Pistons shirt to bed means is a clear indicator of this. Now when it comes to sports it is a personal matter and to Nick the Bulls aren’t just a basketball team; they represent the city he is from, most of his relationship with his dad and the first time he realized he could love a man. To Jess it’s as simple as switching teams to help aid friendship building, but Nick views this as a kind of betrayal. This notion comes across as ridiculous to Jess and she understandably doesn’t want to be told who she can and can’t support.

Being Nick’s girlfriend is part of the problem as that’s all Coach views her as; aside from that brief spell in the pilot episode Coach has only known Jess since she started dating Nick and so this is how he identifies her. This isn’t good enough as they live together and it makes sense why Jess wants to be defined in her own right, not as part of who Nick is. The sex standoff allows Jess and Nick to be at their weirdest and it’s reminiscent of their previous fights that have included shaking their butts at each other and having a weird off. This is one of the many reasons why they work together and I don’t mind them fighting in this manner – it’s much better than the strip club episode earlier this season – and Nick’s attempts to turn Jess on with his Scotty Pippens ends up making himself horny.  Hey those really are some short shorts. There’s a touch of the “Quick Hardening Caulk” about the innuendos and I’m not sure if this show has done a dirtier joke than “I need my Vitamin D.” Any inventive way to get around Standards and Practices (a part of TV that I find fascinating) is good with me.

Jess gains the upper hand and in the end they both cave in; Nick puts on the Pistons shirt he despises so much and Jess wears the Bulls jersey. Jess is of course disappointed that her plan with Coach didn’t work after he refers to her again as Nick’s girlfriend. It’s not like Coach doesn’t want to be Jess’ friend and he reveals in the final scene that as he moved around a lot when he was a kid he doesn’t like to get too attached to people. Nick plays friendship coach to Coach by letting him on the secret to becoming Jess’ friend; tell her those random sweet/emotional thoughts like “if you combed a gorilla’s hair would it like it?” And no Coach I have never seen a baby pigeon either and now I really want to.

This storyline isn’t just about Jess and Nick, the Coach aspect is important too as like Jess we don’t know a whole lot about him yet either. The chemistry is there and Damon Wayans Jr. is very funny – his special laugh for Nick is pretty incredible – and yet I still feel like there’s ways to go, which of course makes complete sense. Coach feels like he is meant to be part of this group and it has opened up the story possibilities by extending the group dynamic.

Last week Winston quit his job and he turns to Schmidt for career advice. This is a case where the B story is just as much fun as the main plot and also propels both Winston and Schmidt forward (with help from Cece). Winston figures out that marketing (the backbone of capitalism) isn’t for him and after he shows such good observational skills Cece suggests he becomes a cop. This is perfect as he already has “high cholesterol and weird people skills” and his favorite movie happens to be Training Day.

Cece takes the place of Nick in the bar scenes and I’m all for Cece working at the bar if this means more screen time; she’s always been one of the more level headed characters and so becoming the wise bartender isn’t a stretch. She also has the Nick Miller-like drinking on the job thing down too. There was a joke in last season’s “Table 34” where Cece and Nick ended up in the same grouping and the pair has a surprising amount in common. It’s also worth noting that all Cece/Schmidt animosity has come to an end and if we can move as far away from that love triangle story then everybody wins.

In the midst of the two overall plots there is also a terrific Nick/Schmidt/Winston scene as Nick is just the cranky guy they need to solve Schmidt’s old man Ed problem. Nick wants to know where he can process his “beefcake selfies” which includes Nick’s interpretation of “a sexy mayor, looking out the window, deciding the future of my city.” Schmidt is disappointed Nick didn’t come to him for posing advice including “The Half Nelson.” I’m pretty sure I could watch Nick explaining why he doesn’t want to use his phone like everyone else does for private photos for an entire episode; no one does crazy lists that don’t make any sense like Jake Johnson and now I want to know what’s going on in Japan with all those robots. The same goes for Schmidt and his terrible minnow/toast metaphor.

Another strong episode and it looks like the New Girl rut could be over as it is no longer suffering from the disconnected feeling from earlier this season. As I mentioned in the intro the writing is at its best when it revels in both smut and sweetness or what Liz Meriwether has called “real shit and some stupid shit.” Laughter is important, so is connecting with the characters and the conflict between Jess’ desire to be defined by her own merit and Nick’s passion for his team are both relatable notions.

A brief note on the amazing pony sweater Jess is wearing as this isn’t the first Fox show to use this French Connection item as Gina from Brooklyn Nine-Nine wore it earlier this season and it featured on our wish list. Over the summer hiatus we did some fantasy costuming using the French Connection A/W 13 collection and we chose the pony dress for Jess, a close call.

3 Responses to “New Girl 3.12 “Basketsball” Review: Nick’s Girlfriend”


  1. New Girl 3.13 “Birthday” Review: Great Expectations | TV Ate My Wardrobe - January 22, 2014

    […] her earlier reaction. It’s a really heartwarming conclusion and circles back to the “real shit and some stupid shit” core of what New Girl is. The video testimonials feature who you would expect and some […]

  2. New Girl 3.19 “Fired Up” Review: Firing Your Friends | TV Ate My Wardrobe - March 12, 2014

    […] so I’m very happy with this development that will see him working at the same school. “Basketsball” laid the groundwork of their friendship and he gets to use the skills that earned him that […]

  3. NYFW Fantasy Costuming: Sally Draper in Red Valentino Fall 2015 | TV Ate My Wardrobe - February 16, 2015

    […] fashionista, Sally Draper. Some Fantasy Costuming pieces have included items that have ended up on the shows they were picked out for and this will definitely not be the case here as a) they are not vintage […]

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