'New Girl's Nick & Jess: In Defense of the TV Couple Stage
Roundabout mid-last season on New Girl, the show made a big leap: They made their will-they-won't-they couple a definitely-happening-right-now, and it made everyone a little nervous. The nerve! How would a show keep going with no one on the edge of their seats wondering if two characters were gonna have sex?!
This nervous energy has followed the show since it made its decision, and pretty much every time an episode of New Girl airs, it's followed by another small flurry of headlines asking things like "Can New Girl pull this off?," "Are Nick and Jess As A Couple Still Working Creatively?," and so on and so forth — they've become one of the most talked-about couples on TV, and I'm here to add to that excess. Because, so far, I think the answer is a resounding yes.
Not everyone will agree with me, of course — different people are looking for different things out of their television and out of these characters. But for me, New Girl's been smooth sailing since the lead-up to that kiss in "The Cooler" — and ugh, what an awesome kiss that was.
Nick and Jess being an actual bonafide couple is different than anything the show's tackled before, that's for sure, but in my opinion, it still works. They may be having regular sex and talking about their feelings a lot, but having them do that — and be in full-on couple mode — is actually a pretty interesting way to spice things up and explore parts of these characters in different ways.
Nick and Jess have always had their issues with each other, and having them be in couple mode while still dealing with those issues has been a surprisingly intriguing thing to watch. Nick's always been a train wreck of a person, and so last night's episode dealt with Jess' reaction to someone she cares about so deeply not having his life even remotely together. That conflict — her trying to pay his bills, them fighting, etc. — could have occurred with or without the boyfriend/girlfriend titles. We're still getting our characters — they just have a much cuter (and occasionally more nauseating) way of making up.
Neither of these characters have really been in this situation prior to this — they both admitted last week to never having felt this way before. That's new territory, and it's new territory with two people who are — as most of New Girl's cast are — complete wildcards when it comes down to it. They follow their impulses, and their impulses are often really dumb.
New Girl showrunner Liz Meriwether has said pretty much every time Nick and Jess are brought up, that one or both of them are gonna screw this up eventually. I personally think they'll circle back to it further down the line and make it endgame, but before that, this thing is gonna crash and burn. And it's gonna crash and burn hard.
And so, for now, it's nice to see the ways in which the characters actually work well together; how they're growing as people through each other. Because when this thing blows up in their faces — it will probably be incredibly dramatic and involve some avoidance-dancing — they're gonna have to re-evaluate what these people mean to each other all over again.
And here's another thing: Just because a lot of other shows are too chicken to pair up their will-they-won't-they couples doesn't mean it can't be done.