New Girl Review: “Exes” (Season 3, Episode 15)
So after the disappointment of “Prince” last week, we’re finally back to the New Girl we all know and love and this week, it’s all in the title. Nick and Jess have a few problems with some of their exes, while Schmidt, Coach and Winston attempt in vain to get their freak on with three fresh chicks. Well, two – we’ve met Bertie before, but more on that later.
For Nick and Jess the trouble begins, as it so often does, at the farmer’s market where they bump into Nick’s ex, Caroline. She’s still mad about their break up two years ago and demands satisfaction from Nick, wanting to at least know why he dumped her (remember when he drove to the desert?). Instead of giving her the reason, or any reason, he instead just runs away.
If ever an episode of New Girl had a really natural, intuitive story where things happen realistically and with good reason, it’s this one. This is a really, really great episode with loads of charm, wit and invention. Saying it has an “intuitive” story might sound odd at first, but it’s quite difficult to do in the third year of a show. There’s no contrivances here, no bizarre central conceit, no “Hey, we almost got ran over, and now we’re going to Prince’s house!” None of that, just good old fashioned situation comedy.
We also get to meet Berkley, the ex that Jess has managed to mythologize for Nick in terms of his ability to stay friends with Jess. They text and call all the time, and he gives great advice, so Jess invites him round to talk to Nick about about his problems. Nick remains convinced that no man would ever stay friends with an ex unless they wanted sex – with the notable exception of perennial oddball Winston, who still sends his ex’s dad a Father’s Day card (for instance) – and is eventually vindicated in that when Berkeley confides early on to Jess that he’s always loved her, and he’s going to leave his wife for her.
This is New Girl at its very best – as a result of Jess’ interfering (I think that’s too harsh a word, but I can’t describe it any other way) the situation is made much worse for everyone involved. It also excels in keeping the situation relatively light: when Berkeley confesses his love threatens to leave his wife for her, Jess’ first instinct is not to be shocked, but to insist that they should not tell Nick that he’s right.
By focusing on the levity of Jess and Nick’s childish argument as opposed to the very real emotions that Berkeley is feeling, hating his wife and no doubt resenting his child with her, the show hits the perfect balance of wit and depth. The thread of focused immaturity that runs through this show is definitely one of its strengths, and also makes it relatively unique. I’ve talked about it before but placing a female character at the center of a mostly male show, and an incredibly silly and immature character at that, is bold and it pays off in episodes like this.