New Girl 3.15 Review: Can You Be Friends with an Ex?

5 Feb

In what feels like an extension of the When Harry Met Sally theory that a man can’t be friends with a woman he finds attractive, New Girl deals with the notion friendship with an ex. Nick is firmly on the no spot as he thinks the only reason you remain friends is because there is the possibility of sex, Jess falls on the other side of the argument insisting this isn’t the case. In step two exes – we’ve got Caroline who Nick hasn’t seen since he walked out on her at the end of season one and Berkley (played by TV Ate My Wardrobe favorite Adam Brody) as one of Jess’ exes who she has been in regular (off screen) contact for the 10 years since they broke up.

NG_Ep314-Sc14_0009It’s funny to think of Caroline as the wronged party as for so long she has been painted as this woman who broke Nick’s heart, but on this occasion she is very much the injured party. When Nick got back together with Caroline, she became the instant enemy as she was the obstacle to all things Nick and Jess. So when Nick returned and cranked up AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” it was easy to bask in the dancing goodness and not give a second thought to the woman he left in the apartment he was meant to move into. I mean, who cares right? Well this is a good lesson in characters who help move the story forward and get left behind; Caroline is not a regular and nor is she someone I have rooted for, but when you take it from her perspective it’s understandable why she has these bottled up feelings of rage that explode over someone’s car that isn’t actually Nick’s.

Unlike the Super Bowl episode where Nick’s feelings accidentally fell out of his mouth, this is classic Nick Miller in that he bumbles about random crap for half an hour – PS I would totally watch an episode of Jake Johnson doing this – like how would you give a thumbs up if you gave up your thumb? So Nick never told Caroline the real reason why he couldn’t be with her and this entire time she thought it was because of Jess. I’d say the full blown shouting match in “Tomatoes” that Caroline would have definitely heard was probably the indicator that there were more than just friendship feelings going on.

For two years Caroline thought that she was insane and while this has been happening in a world that doesn’t impact the characters we watch each week, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for her when it’s all laid out like that. This moment turns maybe inappropriately into a super sweet Nick and Jess declaration – I might feel sorry for Caroline but I’m Nick and Jess all the way – yep he loved Jess as soon as she walked through the door. You could quibble with his version of events, but then again he did turn down a drink with Caroline to go and lead a rendition of “(I’ve Had) The Time of my Life” at Jess in the pilot, so it’s not all that retcon of the writers. For Jess it happened “waaaaaaaaaaay” later. This I also totally buy.

So back to this idea that exes can’t be friends and with Nick and Caroline I would say this is a world of no. Jess and Nick have had debates like this in the past, most notably in “Landlord” when they almost had a threesome with their landlord Remy just to prove a point. On that occasion Nick argued that Remy was only being nice to get sex and in “Exes” Nick asserts a similar belief; this time with exes rather than helpful landlords. Nick gets to be right again as Berkley declares his love for Jess and he wants to leave his wife for her as he’s vastly underappreciated at home. What this leads to is a whole level of farce that is accentuated by what is going on across the hall (more on that shortly) and Adam Brody’s reaction to the fake water being sprayed in his face is my new everything, gif please.

Maybe Jess should have laid off the xoxo’s, though she’s right that oooo would be a dumb way to sign off and this is the perfect time to highlight just how good Zooey Deschanel’s comic timing is as her reactions to all of the Berkley/Caroline related shenanigans are hilarious. The timeline of Nick and Jess getting together is brilliant – “London has a great Olympics” – but in the end it doesn’t matter that they didn’t get together straight away, that’s not the kicker for Caroline, it’s the not knowing why Nick left in the first place. Deschanel is also wonderful when hitting the emotional notes and her crying in the shower “This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve led a very fortunate life” is full of self awareness.

With Berkley, Nick is ultimately right with how he feels about Jess but instead of going down the old jealously route, Nick treats him with hilarious contempt. This could all just be the new age dad stuff (plus Berkley doesn’t like beer) but it’s also a strong indicator of how solid the Nick/Jess relationship is at the moment. I think Nick is happy that Berkley is into Jess because he also gets to be right with his theory, except for Winston who still keeps in contact with family members of his exes.

The hijinks in “Exes” also covers new relationships (or rather hookups) across the hall in apartment 4C. Schmidt’s finally finished his loft and the only way he can coax Winston and Coach over is with a free sub coupon and an offer to use his apartment whenever they want. With the drama going on at home it’s not surprising that both Winston and Coach choose Schmidt’s over their place. The reveal of Winston using the spare bedroom for a night with Bertie (who we first met in “Longest Night Ever“) is brilliant and I’d be more than happy if we got to see more of her. Winston is still applying for the police and his Halloween costume hat from last season is coming in useful in the bedroom department.

Schmidt doesn’t get to use one of the 15 different bang spots in his living room area – that’s why there’s so many plush surfaces – but hearing him describe them all countered by Winston pretending he knows what positions Schmidt is talking about is totally worth it. Winston also wants to be Moneypenny before realizing that Moneypenny is a woman. This group has some sketchy pop culture knowledge. Schmidt’s off his game as living by himself has brought out his weirder side; Cece plays friend and bartender advice giver showing that maybe exes can be friends, right? Well at the moment they can but I have a feeling that towards the end of the season their attraction might be revisited. I would be more than happy if they could prove Nick wrong and be the exes who can be friends without the sex factor.


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