New Girl “First Date” Review – “What Are We?”

New GirlAiring on Thursday night this week, instead of its usual Tuesday night timeslot, New Girl provided another solid episode that continued to explore Nick and Jess’s relationship, intensifying the sexual tension between the pair and inducing more laugh-out-loud moments than ever before. While the B-plot with Schmidt and Winston didn’t blow me away (some parts were hysterical, while other moments left me shaking my head at how broad the show’s comedy was), everything about Nick and Jess’s date in “First Date” (including the reappearance of Dermot Mulroney’s Russell, aka Fancyman) hit the right notes and yet again showed why the two of them have been the central focus of New Girl‘s stellar second season.

The main enjoyment of Nick and Jess’s storyline comes from three particular components: first, the awkward mumbling and antics of Jake Johnson as Nick; second, the ease and honesty with which Nick and Jess were able to talk about their sexual attraction towards one another (the goofy behaviors that turned each of them were fantastic, especially Nick’s beer gargling, which gets Jess all “hot and bothered”); and lastly, their confusion and trepidation over labeling what the two of them are was also very true to their characters and interesting to watch. As the title of this review would indicate, neither Jess or Nick are really sure what to call themselves. Are they friends? Are they dating? Are they just roommates that hook up? All of this confusion prompts Jess to ask What are we?” and the both she and Nick spend the rest of the episode avoiding to answer the question.

The New Girl writers are doing an amazing job of continually having Nick and Jess start and stop when it comes to their relationship without making their conversations and interactions feel repetitive. Even though not much progress has been made over the last couple episodes in regard to the official standing of Nick and Jess as a couple, each moment between the two of them feels fresh and insightful. Nowhere was that more true than in their date/“not a date” in last night’s episode, as both Nick and Jess teetered on the edge of commitment without fully giving into it. Their interaction with Russell (who reappears and makes Nick and Jess write down what they each would call “this thing” on a piece of paper and then refuses to show them) only adds fuel to the fire. What “First Date” clearly shows us is that Nick and Jess’s “thing,” whatever they want to call it, is reaching a boiling point, where they will no longer be able to hide behind the guise of ambiguity and must acknowledge how they really feel and what the two of them truly mean to one another. New Girl

Other thoughts:

– As much as I love the combo of Schmidt and Winston, their storyline this episode felt really disjointed to me. I enjoyed the callback to Winston being terrible at pranks (“Isn’t a bear in a restaurant enough?”), but I did not find their interactions with Outside Dave all that funny or necessary. I’m looking forward to the New Girl writers going back to dealing more with Schmidt/Cece relationship in the last few episodes this season (we still have Cece’s bachelorette party and wedding to deal with), giving Schmidt’s character more focus and Max Greenfield the opportunity for both comedy and some drama.

– Every time I go out dressed nicely now I plan on telling people that “I’m wearing Schmidt.”

– Nick’s first attempt at asking Jess out: “Dirty J! Dr. Day, my toilet sister–if so… food?”

– Nick covers up his date with Jess by telling Schmidt and Winston that he’s going out with a girl named “Yolanda Winston.” Schmidt’s response: “Those Latina girls!”

– Loved the recurring joke of the cop always busting Nick for jaywalking and how it culminated with the two of them, Jess, and Russell together at the end.

– Also loved the ridiculousness of the shirtless man singing “Father Figure” being the worst thing that has ever happened to Winston on a date. So random but so right for a show like New Girl.

– Return of both Fancyman and Tran tonight. Whose return was better? I say Tran. That guy is seriously the best character on New Girl.

– Nick awkwardly touching Jess’s boobs at the start of the episode was so awkward and so funny. When he does it again near the episode’s end, he defends himself by saying, “They’ve got a great squish to them.” Jess’s response: “I can’t argue with you.”

– “I wanna mow a lawn, like my lawn, in dark socks.” So do I, Nick, so do I.

– “Jessica, you are a beautiful woman and my life has not been the same since I met you, and it would mean the world to me if you went on a date with me.” If anyone tries to argue that Nick Miller is not in love with Jess Day, they could not possibly be any more wrong.

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