life lessons

New Girl’s Nick and Jess Relationship Isn’t Working

NEW GIRL: Jess (Zooey Deschanel, C) helps Nick (Jake Johnson, R) open a bank account in the "The Box" episode of NEW GIRL airing Tuesday, Oct. 15 .
NEW GIRL: Jess (Zooey Deschanel, C) helps Nick (Jake Johnson, R) open a bank account in the “The Box” episode of NEW GIRL airing Tuesday, Oct. 15 . Photo: Greg Gayne/FOX

I was rooting for New Girl’s Nick and Jess to get together, even while knowing full well that will-they-won’t-theys that teeter over to “they will” often hurt the show. Still, I rooted for these two, who seemed too besotted with the other to avoid a relationship. What can I say: I like it when people make out. So does my notoriously pro-kiss co-worker Margaret Lyons, who took a scientific approach to the New Girl relationship last year; she prescribed “a series of what-are-we-doing kisses” for Nick and Jess without actually getting together, which is how the second half of last season played out. Then New Girl abandoned Margaret’s advice and made Nick and Jess a real couple. So far, the results are mortifying to watch.

Some of this is plain bad chemistry: Despite the tension running through seasons one and two, Nick and Jess are better at shouting than they are at Smurf role-play. Jess’s sexual naïveté — an inability to say the word penis, weird voices, and clamshell lingerie — worked against more mature boyfriends like Justin Long or Dermot Mulroney because they stood in for the skeptical audience. (Okay, it was still a little strange.) Nick can’t do this: He is the man-boy to Jess’s goofball, and together they are alarmingly sexless, like two cartoon characters without genitals. How can they be humping all the time if they don’t even have the proper parts?

Maybe their fumbling would be more amusing if they were used sparingly — just another twist in the off-the-wall adventures of four irresponsible roommates. But because Nick and Jess are roommates, and therefore interact with each other constantly, their relationship dominates the show. Add that to Schmidt’s disastrous romantic situation and everything on New Girl is lovey-dovey. I have found myself enjoying Winston’s ridiculous subplots just because they are a break from the constant dating talk, and a return to everything random and weird about New Girl. That cat is funny looking! Give me more of that!

To New Girl’s credit, the writers seem to be working themselves out of this hole; last night’s episode involved Winston in a shouty Nick and Jess plot that was not about their relationship (until the mushy end, anyway), and it was amusing. I could see a situation in which Nick and Jess split up, Ross and Rachel style, and then torment each other for the better part of three years while playing True American and yelling at Schmidt. Or maybe they will figure out a way to temper the relationship’s awkwardness, as they did when they eased off on Jess’s quirkiness in season one. TV shows make mistakes, and most of them are fixable. In the meantime, I will be in the corner, copying “kissing is dangerous” over and over until I have learned my lesson.

The Nick and Jess Relationship Isn’t Working