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New Girl 3×12 “Basketball” Recap

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“This is how you get in with Jess. You know when you’re driving in your car, and you have a random thought, like: ‘I wonder if seals are friends?’ Tell that to her, and you get a friend for life.”

You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. (Except, of course, when you can’t.)

Jess and Coach are two very different people who happen to share two connecting points: an apartment and Nick Miller. (Also, you know, Cece, but we don’t really know what’s going on with that, so Nick Miller and the loft it is.) So when Jess insists on being Coach’s friend, she’s in for a bumpy ride. Not because Coach doesn’t like her, but because essentially, he feels rather indifferently towards her. A little bit embarrassed, too, explaining to his friend they meet on the street that Jess is just… His buddy’s girlfriend. Coach has labelled Jess as Nick’s girlfriend, and beyond that, he doesn’t really see her value. But by the end of “Basketball,” with a little bit of help, he does.

Meanwhile, Winston’s stroke of luck in receiving a plot continues! He shadows Schmidt at work, trying to see if the marketing business is for him. It isn’t, but he proves to be good at playing detective, analyzing things – like Schmidt’s new scheming workmate – enjoying working outside of the office, and damn, he would just really love some donuts for breakfast. Cue Cece popping up behind the bar (thank you, New Girl, for involving her in a plot with Schmidt without anything being made of it) and suggesting the obvious: maybe Winston should think about being a cop. (Also, maybe Winston could join the Brooklyn Nine-Nine gang. Or Parks and Rec for an episode, terrifying Ben.) (…The possibilities of Detective Bishop’s influence are endless, and I’m excited.)

As for Jess, in her struggle to bond with Coach she decides that the only natural way forward is to lie about how much she loves basketball – especially Coach’s team, The Pistons. Despite Nick warning her off of the idea, telling her that Coach is a much more simple guy than Jess thinks he is, she adopts the Pistons as her team, bonding with Coach, but also inciting a war with Nick. A sex-war. Nick can’t stand her supporting the enemy team – and bringing their jersey to bed (and, obviously, thinks this is a bad idea with Coach) – so he decides to ‘turn off the sex tap’ until she stops being a Pistons “fan.”

Naturally, because Nick is weak and Jess is smarter than him, he gives in – only to find Jess holding back, and refusing to turn on her sex-tap, until Nick also becomes a Pistons fan. The entire plot is ridiculous, hilarious, and that weird sort of sexy that Nick and Jess embody perfectly. Sitcoms, by now, are portraying better relationships with more tension and heart than you can find in a romantic comedy film. And tonight New Girl proved that they show us better images of sex, too, Jess and Nick not doing things that are traditionally sexy to try to get each other to give in, but things that just… Appeal to each other, in weird, funny ways. Sexy isn’t a universal term or idea, it’s relative, and Nick and Jess showed us their version of that tonight.

Nick, of course, gives in, turning up at the bar that Coach and Jess were supposed to be getting food at in something that would have cost him quite a lot of personal dignity: a Pistons shirt. Coach laughs at him (that laugh!) before being forced to realize what Jess has been doing over the past couple of days. Coach doesn’t understand why they have to be friends, when he’s just fine with her being Nick’s girlfriend, but Nick gives him a speech that makes him want to be Jess’s friend. Friendship, and any form of relationship, can’t exist if it’s unrequited in any way, and so Coach turns up at Jess’s door at the end of the episode, making an effort to bond with her. Not nearly the amount that Jess made, but an effort that transitions them from flat-mates to friends.

Jess, of course, kicks him out ASAP, seeing that Nick came home in his Pistons singlet to find her in his Bulls one, and, yeah, well, the plumber fixed the sex-tap.

“Basketball” takes on a lot of plot, and does it succinctly, without losing sight of the fact that Coach and Jess, if not sharing a loft, wouldn’t otherwise be anything to each other. “Basketball” is a lot like season two’s “Models.” The gang question why they’re even friends- and if they would still choose to be, if they met each other now- before deciding that the why doesn’t really matter. They just are. And now Coach and Jess just are, as well.

Grade: A

Memorable Moments

  •  “You refer to it as basketsball!” “Well that’s the technically correct term, Nick! There are two baskets!”
  • In trying to figure out how to outsmart Schmidt’s conniving new workmate, Winston turns to Nick: “How are we going to find an older, crankier mind than Ed?” “Hey, where are you guys getting your photos developed these days?
  • “You can’t control your technology! That’s what’s going on in Japan with all of those robots!” …Did Nick think Pacific Rim was a documentary?
  • Nick has a lot of important photos on his disposable camera:“There’s one in here of me as a sexy mayor, looking out the window and deciding the fate of my city,”
  •  And so Winston’s journey begins: “Winston, have you ever thought about being a cop?” “You’ve already got high cholesterol and weird people skills.”