Nick and Jess are pretty much perfect for each other. They both counterbalance each other nicely in a way that is rare even in the best sitcoms. But just for a second, let’s imagine that New Girl decided to tear these two apart. One day, Liz Meriwether, show runner and puppet master to her puppets in 4D, could wake up and break up this great couple. What then? What would New Girl become now that the two who tried so hard to be together are now separate?
Technically, New Girl is a show that exists because of breakups. Jess breaking up with her cheating boyfriend brought her into living in an apartment with three guys. Schmidt’s breakup with Cece has caused his downward spiral, moving out and led him to talk to grapes as his new friends. Even Coach is back into the mix of things this season because of a breakup. “Exes” presents that though Jess and Nick are great together currently, having just said “I love you” to each other for the first time a few days ago (thanks to Prince), this could all end at any time, and their relationship would never be the same.
This is all spurred by Nick running into his ex, Caroline, at a Farmer’s Market. Thanks to some nudging by Jess, Nick has coffee with Caroline to give her some closure. However during the thirty minute exchange, Nick avoids the topic of his new relationship. When Caroline then sees Nick and Jess together, she immediately assumes that Nick cheated on her, and thus begins the rage of Caroline.
Being the ever-positive role model for Nick, Jess states that exes can just be friends. She’s still friends with her ex, Berkley, yet all of the guys agree that the only reason guys stay friends with exes is for sex. As Coach astutely points out, you can’t spell “sex” without “ex.” To help Nick with the Caroline, who is getting increasingly more terrifying, she calls Berkley to smooth things over.
Meanwhile, in Apartment 4C down the hall, Schmidt has finally finished putting together his loft, and after offering free sub coupons to those who visit, Coach and Winston come to visit. Schmidt gives his two friends keys to his Bond-like apartment, which of course can only end badly. Cut to later that night when all three of them have brought ladies back to the apartment, and we’re in a mistaken identity, sitcom staple pickle.
Much more than in past seasons, New Girl has utilized its guest characters to great effect, and not just because Prince is awesome. The return of Mary Elizabeth Ellis as Caroline is always welcome, and her view of her breakup with Nick does illuminate a possible future down the road that has been forgotten. On a side note, how great would Ellis’ husband, Charlie Day, be on this show? I mean this show has plenty of screaming as it is—just imagine getting Schmidt and Day in a room together. Adam Brody is also wonderful here as Berkley, and I don’t think I’m just saying that since I’ve had a man crush on Brody since Seth Cohen stated that we have the same favorite albums and book. Brody pulls off nice guy with the possibility of something more nicely, here and let’s hope this isn’t the last we see of Berkley.
I don’t think I give enough credit to the editing on New Girl, but it truly has always been phenomenal, and it stands out in “Exes.” Not only does the editing constantly highlight the great jokes every week, but in “Exes,” it slides back and forth between the two apartments perfectly, keeping the tone serious, yet playful at times.
“Exes” illustrates that things might not end so well for Nick and Jess, but who are they kidding? In the end, these two likely will be together when the final episode rolls. But even when faced with the possible future, Nick and Jess become stronger than they were before. When Caroline lists the way that Nick changes through a relationship, it’s clear that some things will never change, yet some elements of Nick are changing for the better thanks to Jess. Even when faced with a terrible end, these two only get stronger, and as with this recent run of episodes, so does New Girl.