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‘New Girl’: Thinking inside “The Box”

NIck receives an unexpected inheritance, but his refusal to pay off his debts leads to strife with Jess and Winston.
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Laura Russell, October 16, 2013 9:37:01 AM

Five episodes into the third season of New Girl, I guess viewers have to face facts. There is no more “will they or won’t they.” They will, have, and will continue to be a couple. I’m not talking about Winston and Ferguson, unfortunately. I’m talking about Nick and Jessica (Nickica? Jessinick?).

It’s interesting that Tuesday’s episode was entitled “The Box”, when the feeling is growing with every new episode that New Girl has painted itself into a box.  Many shows have hedged their bets on the “will they or won’t they” relationship of their leads (see: Cheers, Friends, Rizzoli and Isles). Some may argue that when the relationships come to fruition, all the spark leaves the couple and the show. New Girl seems to be leaning towards continuing the Jess/Nick fusion by relentlessly examining their relationship with each and every episode to the detriment of the other characters on the show. Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy Nick and Jess as a couple. But I’m tiring of the insular feeling the episodes have taken and the fact that every episode follows the same formula.

In the ‘shipping of Nick and Jess, the writers have created another couple by default : Winston and Schmidt. This is a little generous, as the writers still have clearly no idea what to do with Winston and are criminally underutilizing Lamorne Morris, who has killer chemistry with whomever he is paired. The only interactions that Nick and Jess have with the other roommates are as a couple, leaving the other roomies to play a supporting roll to the new main character “Nickess,” or flounder in their throwaway storylines.

Every episode in the third season has followed the same structure: Jess/Nick have some issue that causes them to question their relationship, Jess/Nick come to a shouting match where they reveal weird things about themselves, and Jess/Nick resolve their issue, resulting in an even stronger relationship. Add Winston fiddling with something weird in the background (puzzle, cat, candelabra) and Schmidt chasing CeCe and we have an episode!

Let’s check this formula against “The Box.”  The issue of the episode was Nick came into a sudden inheritance via his father (RIP Dennis Farina). Instead of using the money to pay back money owed to Winston or deal with his box of “things he wants to forget” (a.k.a. bills), Nick wanted to spend his windfall on junk. Jess, in an uncharacteristically pragmatic turn, took his box of forgetfulness and paid off his bills. Nick was furious and accused Jess of not accepting him and wanting to change him. Nick and Jess came to a shouting match wherein they listed things that Jess doesn’t want to change about herself (night peanuts, ugly vintage purses). Nick realized the error of his ways and opened a bank account because he wanted to change for Jess. And Jess realized the error of her ways and wanted to act a little like Nick, questioning bank fees. Add Winston as a shopping spree partner and Schmidt questioning whether he is a good person or not because of the way he treated CeCe and Elizabeth and we have an episode!

The rote quality of “The Box” isn’t really the issue as there is bound to be a formulaic quality with all television, both serialized and non-serialized. Watching Jess and Nick have their blow ups always yields some comic gems, plus these characters have an undeniable chemistry. The issue is that this mode of crafting an episode is leaving the characters with no place to go beyond this all encompassing relationship. The best episodes of New Girl have been where the roommate are in their flat, playing games like “True American.” But in these episodes the roommates were acting as a foursome, not a couple of couples.

More Girl-y moments:

  • Some of the things Nick bought with his $8,000: a guitar, shoes that are not in his size, glamour shots, industrial size crystals.
  • “I think of other people all the time! What they can do for me. If they have a strange walk I can make fun of later … ” – Schmidt
  • “It’s early in the relationship. Still shaving above the knee.” – Jess to the DMV lady
  • Schmidt just might beat Tom Cruise in a sprint. Google “Tom Cruise running” and you be the judge.
  • “You need Bobby’s pins to hold your hair back?” Nick does not understand hair implements.
  • “We wanna be playing a saxophone in an alley and have you walk by in a miniskirt with a purse with gems! But you girls don’t listen!” – Nick

 

What did you think of “The Box”? Sound off below! And be sure to check out TV Guide Canada‘s Fall Preview.

New Girl airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on City/Fox.

 

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Laura Russell

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