Review: ‘New Girl’ – ‘Fluffer’

Senior Television Writer
10.03.12 35 Comments


A review of last night’s “New Girl” coming up just as soon as I’m going through a Taylor Swift-like range of emotions…

Sometimes, there are sitcom episodes where I enjoy the stories but don’t find them especially funny, while other times I laugh at a bunch of jokes but don’t like the stories. “Fluffer” was largely an example of the latter scenario, filled with a bunch of amusing individual gags (the other guys mocking Schmidt’s belt, Jess and Nick surviving an awkward, overpriced dinner with a thermos of wine, Sam asking “Am I being blackmailed?” to understand Jess’s scenario with the dresser) but more problematic stories.

The basic premise of the A-story – that Jess needs a guy she likes emotionally to prepare her to have crazy sex with a guy she doesn’t – was a good one, but halfway through it turned into another plot about how Jess and Nick are denying their not-so-secret feelings(*) for each other, and at that point I lose abll interest. I get that Zooey Deschanel is the star of the show, Nick has turned out to be the funniest character on the show, and it’s a TV tradition for opposites to attract, blah blah blah. But it’s always felt like the “New Girl” writers are trying to make Jess/Nick happen because they’re supposed to, and not because the combination becomes vastly more entertaining when you add sexual tension to their contrasting temperaments. Even if the creative team genuinely thinks it’s an awesome idea, it never comes across on-screen as one, and feels like a waste of resources to keep devoting time to it.(**)

(*) Speaking of non-secrets, what’s with Nick trying to deny having fantasized about Jess when the show did a whole episode last season (“Secrets”) about how all three of the guys had done it, repeatedly?

(**) I was talking with Todd Van Der Werff about “Fluffer” this morning, and he suggested that the only way a Jess/Nick pairing would be entertaining is if they get together and it is a complete disaster, like the way “Scrubs’ treated J.D. and Elliott in the early seasons, or the payoff to Cordelia and Wesley’s season-long flirtation on “Buffy.” I concur.

Schmidt impersonating Tagg Romney – and briefly getting away with it in front of a trio of hardcore Romney fans – was pretty stupid, but I did enjoy, as usual, his interactions with Cece, including her being there for him in his moment of need even though they’re broken up and he’s constantly mocking her boyfriend. That’s a situation where the chemistry between the two actors works in virtually any iteration.

As for Winston, it’s unfortunately still a struggle. Why is he almost always much funnier commenting on the other character’s storylines (“Never Adele!”) than when he’s involved in his own? They had a whole season, plus a hiatus, to figure this out, and it’s still a case of a funny performer in search of a character.

Enough jokes landed, and the first half of the Jess/Nick storyline worked (before their fight) that overall I liked “Fluffer,” but it felt like a step down from last week’s two strong episodes.

What did everybody else think?

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