Last night's New Girl was a Big Episode — and a polarizing one. Not all fans are 'shippers! Indeed, even among Vulture staffers, the episode was divisive. Josh Wolk and Margaret Lyons explore the two sides of last night's big smooch: Josh arguing against it, and Margaret arguing for it. Join us for this lively debate about the nature of sitcoms and gonorrhea metaphors.
Margaret: Josh, which do you hate more: love or true love? I am so happy right now, I seriously cannot believe you are approaching this with anything other than a song in your heart. What is the matter with you?
Josh: Hey, I love love. And I am not a fan of hate. (Guess where I stand on indifference? Meh.) But romance on sitcoms makes me nervous; it can work when it’s set up at the beginning and is built into the show (Sam and Diane), but not when they pair people up after the show has found its groove. New Girl started out shakily as the adventures of a kooky girl and her three roomies who flinched at her weirdness but at the end of every episode learned that life is better with a little crazy dancing, blinkity blinking, or what have you. But the show found its footing when they brought the three guys to the forefront, each dysfunctional in their own way, each able to spin off into the world and have hilariously terrible experiences that rivaled Jess’s. But pairing off Jess and Nick threatens to automatically pull the focus back to just one story. Much fighting and squabbling and tentative approaches and then retreats and complications with Sam, and this all threatens the goofball quotient I have grown to expect and enjoy.
Margaret: Except for Monica and Chandler, of course, who are a great sitcom couple — and their relationship was absolutely not built into the fabric of Friends from the beginning.
But to the issue at hand: New Girl still does overfocus on single story lines, but of all the ones they could overfocus on, a Nick–Jess romance is fine by me. I don't care about who Cece is dating. Have you ever cared about a Winston love interest? Do you want to spend more time at Schmidt's office? I don't! I don't care! And yet the show spends time on these things, even though they are blah. The stories that work best on the show are the stories that involve everyone, and OF COURSE a Nick–Jess romance would involve the whole loft in terms of negotiating "couple" time or whatever.
Josh: Friends might not have established Monica and Chandler, but the Ross–Rachel DNA set the stage that there would be some inevitable pairing off of other roommates down the line. (This is a different problem for a long-running sitcom, when they start dabbling with all different permutations of matchups. Now I’m fearing seeing Cece date Winston in season four, and maybe Rob Reiner in season five.) And no, I don’t care about who Cece dates, but there’s not a lot of time spent on it: It’s basically just a straw man erected to give Schmidt something to get apoplectic about and overenunciate, and I’m all for that. And I didn’t care about Winston’s girlfriend, and neither did the show, and they dropped her quickly. While I think Schmidt and Winston’s reactions to an in-house romance does have potential, it will likely take over like a smoochy, bickery virus that you can’t drop quickly.
Margaret: Do you just not support a Nick–Jess pairing, period? Let's suppose the show would do it great, and it wouldn't "ruin" anything or whatever you're worried about. Do you think they're a good pair? Do you 'ship them, Josh? I feel like that is the underlying issue here. You don't actually want them together.
Josh: I do not support this pairing. Which is not meant to impugn their compatibility as people (though they aren’t real people. You realize that, don’t you, Margaret?). I just don’t think any pairing of the foursome is right for the show. Let them all bump up against each other, but not bump bump.
Margaret: First of all, don't say "bump bump." Second of all, they are real to me! Third of all, I think Nick and Jess have to get together eventually — though I could easily live with them hooking up and then quickly deciding that they're just friends or that it's not worth it or something, but the longer the show waits to have them hook up, the more significance it takes on. There's been SO MUCH ROMANTIC TENSION between them; surely you want them to at least address that, no?
Josh: I didn’t like all the romantic tension in the first place! That’s like saying, “You don’t like having gonorrhea, but don’t you think you need to embrace it now that you’ve had the burning sensation?” Perhaps that’s an extreme analogy, but I stand by it. This should be a show about four platonic roommates. ‘Shippers should not always get their way! If we all lived in Margaretland, every series would be 34 percent lead actors smooching, and even The Voice judges would be dating.
Margaret: Adam and Christina have intense chemistry, and everyone knows it!