New Girl Review: “Fluffer” (Season 2, Episode 3)

It is possible for a show to bring up a lot of interesting ideas and worthy themes, and yet still fail to execute either their genesis or resolution in a truly effective way. It’s the kind of thing that mutes one’s enthusiasm for an otherwise stellar half hour of comedy and insightful personal drama. It’s also just frustrating considering how seismic the shifts that this episode of New Girl sets up could turn out to be.

This biggest development to come out of this episode is the growth and redefinition of the relationship between Jess and Nick. From the beginning it seemed obvious that these two would be the “will-they-won’t-they” couple whose tension would serve as reliable fall-back drama. There have been moments scattered throughout the series thus far that have enforced this idea, but they have always wound up deepening the friendship rather than creating more awkwardness between them.

Tonight, however, there comes a breaking point wherein the unspoken attraction between the two characters has to be spoken. Jess has continued to sleep with the vapid dolt from last week who said he didn’t care about liking her. The problem is, Jess is not so great with casual sex, and needs an emotional kickstart to get her libido going. Here, she subs in Nick as the titular ‘fluffer’ for her emotional needs before running to her hook up for sex. Nick is fine with this arrangement at first, because his real affection for Jess allows him to enjoy his time with her, be is a cheap dinner or trip to Ikea.

Winston, however, sets a seed in Nick’s mind that he is being used, and when Nick confronts Jess they are forced into an awkward game of trying to discover the other’s true feelings without having to expose their own. The fallout from the argument sets Jess out to try to get to know the man she is sleeping with, only to discover that he’s nothing like the type of person she would want to sleep with in real life. Nick, meanwhile, attempts to keep his affection for Jess from spilling over into real world acts, to set up boundaries. Unfortunately, he can’t stop himself from setting up Jess’s new dresser. She walks in, they have a vague argument and settle on a simple fact: they are friends who every now and then are attracted to one another, but who know they aren’t good for one another.

It’s a basic idea, but one that rarely enters into popular culture. Best of all, it fits the characters perfectly, and sets up a universal situation that most people can identify with. The problem is that the situation arises and reaches its apex rather quickly, mainly thanks to Winston’s interference. Nick isn’t usually one to be pushed to direct confrontation, and an episode of him stewing would have made more sense, though it may have ruined the pace.

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