Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Girl 3.12: "Basketsball"

“Nick, do not challenge me to a sex standoff. I can challenge all my sexual energy into knitting. How do you think I made it through high school?”

While I wouldn’t put “Basketsball” with my all-time favorite “New Girl” episodes, it was a fun half-hour, and I also thought it was an interesting use of the character of Coach. Jess, because she always wants to see the best in people, really, really wants to be true friends with Coach. She thinks the best way to do that is to watch basketball with him, and she takes this quest so far that it results in a no sex standoff with Nick. I’m not sure if alienating your boyfriend for the sake of trying to be friends with a guy who doesn’t seem to like you much is worth it, but that’s Jess for you! Meanwhile, Winston still doesn’t know what to do with himself after having quit his radio station job in the previous episode (which was a pretty good job last we saw it over a season ago, so I still don’t get that plot development). He wonders if advertising/marketing might be a good career, and so he decides to shadow Schmidt at work for a day. And offensive hilarity ensues, of course. The characters are all really trying to make strides towards growing up, and that makes for interesting storytelling.

Early in the episode, we learn what Coach did to upset Jess to the point where she had to go all-out in her attempts to be his friend. Jess was being her usual crazy/uber-quirky self in front of one of Coach’s friends, and Coach apologized for her, saying she’s “his buddy’s girlfriend.” For some reason, just being considered “Nick’s girlfriend” really upset Jess, and it put her on a mission to try and be Coach’s friend. Nick warns Jess that since it’s basketball season, Coach is going to be spending most of his time watching Pistons games. Jess thinks that sounds fine. She can try to bond with Coach over basketball, even though she knows absolutely nothing about the sport. I think Jess might see in sports what I do. There’s drama, and there’s always interesting backstory to the athletes. Nick seems to think guys like sports for different reasons. Who knew?

Meanwhile, since Winston quit his job in the last episode, he’s been having a bit of an identity crisis. He thinks he might be interested in advertising or marketing, so he asks to shadow Schmidt at work for a day. On the shadow day, Schmidt and Winston are introduced to new hire Ed, played by Bob Gunton (“The Shawshank Redemption”). Ed is in his late 60’s, and the firm basically just hired him to prevent an age discrimination lawsuit by the 45-year-old female executive they just let go. Ed may not have the energy of Schmidt, but he’s crafty and he’s a shark. Schmidt doesn’t see this, but Winston does, and he tries to warn Schmidt. Schmidt tries to act like a know-it-all around Ed anyway, and he tells Ed about his great new idea, micromarketing. Of course, at the next staff meeting, Ed brings up micromarketing himself. Schmidt just knows that Ed is going to try and take credit for the idea.

Jess manages to be pretty successful with Operation: Use Basketball to Befriend Coach at first. She lures Coach out of his room by offering to watch the game with him on the big screen television in the living room. Coach is only too happy to go for the upgrade. It turns out that Coach is a pretty crazy Detroit Pistons fan. Unfortunately for Jess, Nick is a pretty diehard Chicago Bulls fan. And apparently they’re rivals. Like Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers level rivals. Anyway, Jess walks into Nick’s room in a Piston’s jersey, and it’s a major turn-off for Nick. He tells Jess that he absolutely can’t sleep with her if she’s a Pistons fan. The tap is off. Jess can’t get her “vitamin D.” Of course, with Jess and Nick being Jess and Nick, things only escalate from there. Jess goes full force into being a Pistons fan, and she really wants Nick to change his allegiance too. They both try to out sex starve the other, which really doesn’t seem like something that would do anybody any good. I didn’t think Jess would usually go quite so far to make a point.

Meanwhile, Schmidt and Winston are trying to figure out how Schmidt can possibly salvage his career from the pummeling it is about to take thanks to Ed. Schmidt had been banking on micromarketing to get himself a promotion. Thy guys decide to consult the most “old at heart” guy they know (Nick, of course) for some advice on how to trip up Ed at his presentation. Nick starts waxing poetic about the importance of having a hard copy of everything. This translates into the perfect trip-up for Ed. Ed had been planning to distribute hard copy handouts and the presentation. Schmidt says that all the office printers are broken, though, so he’s loaded everything up on a laptop. Just contemplating using a PowerPoint makes Ed have a heart attack. And that, says one of the executives, is why they don’t let employees stay on past age 45. That took the joke a little too far, I think, but Ed was such a jerk that I liked to see Schmidt and Winston get the better of him. Later, the gang talks about how good Winston is at reading people and finding clues. Winston’s new career aspiration is now to become a cop.

Jess gets sick and tired of watching basketball, so she secretly breaks the cable connection to the television. With the television broken, she asks Coach if he’d like to go get some dinner. He agrees, but he ends up taking Jess to a sports bar. Meanwhile, Nick is getting frustrated due to no sex from Jess, so he finally caves and wears a Pistons jersey. He shows up at the sports bar to see that Coach is still there, but Jess has already left in frustration. Coach, of course, thinks that seeing Nick in a Pistons jersey is the funniest thing ever. Nick ends up giving Coach some good advice on how to show Jess that he’d like to be friends. Unfortunately for Coach, he decides to implement that advice while Jess and Nick are in the middle of some make-up sex.

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