New Girl Review: “Coach” (Season 3, Episode 7)

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I never liked Coach, back in the day. He was only in Pilot, but I never liked him. He seemed to jar with the rest of the New Girl cast. Maybe it’s because he appeared, at least superficially, successful and nice. Maybe he was too good looking. Maybe he wasn’t damaged enough for my tastes. Whatever it was, I took against him. It might be a childish reaction, or sulky, or whatever; suffice to say, I didn’t like him. So when I saw on Wikipedia an upcoming episode entitled “Coach,” my heart sank a little bit. Not too much, obviously – it’s just a TV show, and who knows? It might be great. I’m not one to take television that seriously, really, even though I write reviews twice weekly for this very site. That week, the “Coach” week, that week is this week, and you know what? It wasn’t half bad.

I think the key to unlocking “Coach” (both the episode and the character”) was to New Girl him. He wasn’t sufficiently New Girl-ed in his first incarnation – he was an intimidating man, almost a father figure to the group. An older brother, at least. In “Coach,” he’s the same ebullient, enthusiastically male figure that he always was, but revealing that he was on the rebound from a relationship made him relatable. It’s something that every character in the show has experienced at some point, some more recently and acutely (Schmidt) than others. The twist, that his now ex-girlfriend had actually dumped him rather than the other way round, which we initially led to believe, was very deftly done. It also set up the confrontation at the police station with Tareeq (or is it Tariq?) really well, and helped deliver the punchline to Winston’s bunny money story.

As is usually the case with New Girl, the title has multiple meanings. Obviously Coach is back, at least for now, and appears to be settling in nicely, but that’s not all. Jess is unhappy that Nick couldn’t label her as his girlfriend in front of Coach. Why? Who knows. Male bullshit, guyism, intimidation, whatever. It’s not important. What’s important is that while reeling from this, she goes drinking with Cece. Cece’s in a precarious emotional position herself remember, what with Schmidt cheating on her, and so became Jess’s coach in the ways of men and how stupid they are. She’s biased in this area, which Jess does recognise, but much of what Cece says made a lot of sense to her at that moment, in that drunken haze.

Elsewhere, the addition of guest star Taye Diggs as Artie, coffee shop owner and all round hot guy, throws a spanner in the works this week. What surprised me the most about Jess and Artie’s scenes together was how much it actually felt like cheating to me. Maybe I’m insane, but apparently I really, really want Jess and Nick to succeed and stay together. Like, on a deep emotional level. When Jess was chatting with Artie, giggling at the way he says “Brazil” and “”rubber baby buggy bumpers,” my mind was screaming “No Jess! NO!” Even though Nick was in a strip club, I didn’t want Jess to give up on him. New Girl is Jess and Nick, and how the others orbit them. Adding Artie, who is both gorgeous and perfect for Jess, was like throwing a stick of dynamite at that cosy little set-up.