The Rekindling Friendships of ‘New Girl’
This article contains spoilers of the series, New Girl.
It is rare to find a binge-worthy show, characters that are unhinged and quirky people who play bizarre drinking games and healthy female friendships. FOX’s New Girl offers a kind of friendship that is charming and raw to the sitcom age with unadulterated, chaotic roommates that all live together in a loft and deal with new problems in each episode. From dealing with new love interests to wearing a “penis cast” as a result of a sex injury and helping them scratch their undercarriage, New Girl defines a kind of friendship that we rarely see on television. But the aftermath of the series’ cancellation is still disheartening as it had the comedic potential to be one of the best sitcoms ever created. Despite its early demise, this show has become one of the few shows that present the unique platonic friendships in the face of television’s many romantic ones.
New Girl revolves around Jessica “Jess” Day (Zooey Deschanel), a middle school teacher, who breaks up with her boyfriend after she finds out that he has been cheating on her. After answering an ad for a roommate on Craigslist, she moves in with Nick Miller (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) to their loft in Los Angeles. Jess deals with the break-up by watching Dirty Dancing on the couch and cries out loud. Flustered by Jess’ emotions, Nick, Schmidt and Coach advise her to start dating again. Despite Jess getting herself a date, she ends up being stood up and the boys rush to the restaurant to sing “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and cheer her up. Their friendship with Jess begins this way and it cements a kind of bond between Jess and the boys. After the pilot episode, Coach vacates the loft to live with his girlfriend and is replaced by a former roommate and Nick’s childhood friend, Winston Bishop (Lamorne Morris). In addition to the roommates, Jess’s best friend, Cece (Hannah Simone), who is a fashion model, is introduced to the roommates. Schmidt is immediately drawn to her and states that he is going to marry her someday.
The greatest triumph of New Girl is the ensemble of characters that you want to be around all the time, whether if it’s Nick, who complains about everything, or Schmidt, the ladies man and the comically perfective roommate, or Winston, the enthusiastic prankster who sometimes goes too big or too small, and lastly, Jess, the quirky and adorkable middle school teacher and her trustworthy, ride-or-die best friend, Cece. These characters offer platonic bonds and countless amounts of goofiness, which is always all over the place. Jess is the more grounded roommate, while Nick, Schmidt and Winston deal with outrageously hilarious situations.
There is a duo that is worth exploring and appreciating: the friendship between Cece and Jess. As friends since childhood, and despite their differences Jess and Cece are always there for each other, being one of the healthiest female friendships on screen. Though no jealousy or bitterness lingering between them, in the season one episode titled “Secrets”, tensions rise when Jess finds out that Cece and Schmidt have been secretly sleeping with each other for two months. When the strain on their friendship reaches its peak, Jess realises why Cece never told her about her relationship with Schmidt. Even with a conflict like this, Jess learns to accept their relationship and they reconcile. Moreover, when Cece tells Jess that she needs to get married to somebody else, Jess does not fight it out or reason with her. She accepts her best friend’s wishes and provides her with the support she needs. Similarly, Cece is the kind of friend that is always ready to protect Jess from anyone who thinks bad of her. Despite their minor slip-ups, Jess and Cece are always there for each other at the end of the day.
While the friends in New Girl show support and experience multiple mishaps amongst themselves leading to hilarious outcomes, there is also a sense of competitiveness between them. In another episode in season two titled “Parking Lot”, Jess, Nick, Winston and Schmidt fight over the only parking lot space and each of them has a reason why they deserve the spot. Following the events of the previous episode “Cooler”, there is an awkwardness and sexual tension between Nick and Jess after they share a kiss, which comes to play when battling for the parking space as well. After Winston leaves due to other commitments, it’s a three-way fight between Jess, Nick and Schmidt but unfortunately, Nick cannot handle the intensity of the fight and becomes ‘The Decider’ of who gets the spot. In the meantime, Jess tries to seduce Nick with his hoodies, and Nick gives her the spot. Similarly, Schmidt gives Nick beer and thanks his best friend for giving him the spot in advance. Nick spits the beer out and says that he had already given the spot to Jess. Schmidt sensed that something was up and they confessed to him that they shared a kiss. After Nick crumbles under the pressure of choosing between his friends, he changes his mind and declares that he wants the parking space too. They race down to find their cars and drive their vehicle to the parking lot. Nick is unable to bring his car around so grabs a crappy lawn chair in exchange for his vehicle and sits in the parking space. Schmidt slowly nudges Nick with his vehicle while Jess arrives at the parking lot and pushes Schmidt’s car with hers until no one has the spot. Jess and Schmidt get out of their vehicle and stand in the parking space. Tensions rise when Schmidt tells Jess about the ‘No-Nail Agreement’ that nobody in the roommate should have sex with her, which was made by Nick as he was the one who had a crush on her from the very beginning. In the end, despite forfeiting himself from the race initially, it is Winston who gets the parking space.
In the season four episode “Background Check”, Winston informs the group that a police sergeant visits the loft to conduct a mandatory background check as part of his training at the police academy. Jess reveals that she found a bag of meth inside a footstool and she has kept it inside her wardrobe since then. In a frenzied panic, the boys and Jess try to figure out how to get rid of the bag of meth. At the same time, Nick is sweating and he does not want to know where they hide the meth so Jess tells him to sing “Landslide” and calls Cece for backup. Just as Coach brings the bin to hide the bag of meth inside it, Jess throws it towards him and the substance gets thrown everywhere. When Winston enters the apartment with the sergeant, Jess has some of it shoved inside her bra. When Cece arrives at the apartment, Jess tells her about the situation and they try to flush the meth down the toilet. The meth gets stuck in the toilet and starts to overflow and when Winston walks into the bathroom, Jess tries to play it off as medical meth for her cramps. Inside Jess’s bedroom, the sergeant notices Nick is sweating over his shirt and closes the door so that she can interrogate him, and spews out his childhood secrets to her. Meanwhile, outside the loft, Coach is cruising around the neighbourhood to find a boy who would play Winston’s brother. By the end of this chaotic episode, it turns out that the bag of meth was mistaken for aquarium rocks and Winston ends up passing his test and officially becomes a cop.
The friendships of Nick, Schmidt, Winston and Coach are undeniably hilarious as through flashbacks, we get to see a glimpse of their time together in college including Nick’s aloof personality, Winston playing basketball and Schmidt’s desperate attempts to form a relationship with Nick. When all three of them end up living in the loft together, it is clear that there is nothing that breaks their bond, providing a truly refreshing look at how male friendships are portrayed. However, they are also not without their own ups and downs. Nick’s frustrations at Schmidt’s indecisiveness on whether he wants to date Cece or Elizabeth is hilarious to watch as he is mad, but cannot answer the question of why the world works the way it does. In a silly episode titled, “Quick Hardening Caulk”, Schmidt has unresolved feelings about Cece and he is channelling these emotions through a symbolic lionfish. While catching the endangered fish, Schmidt gets stung in his crotch and he asks Winstons to pee on him. This results in him getting his iconic “penis cast”. Again, repeating what this show represents, this friendship provides a comedic level of having no boundaries.
In the case of Schmidt’s relentless and obsession with keeping the apartment clean, he finds a new object that he must get rid of: a spider. In the episode “Spiderhunt”, Schmidt and the gang split up to track down and kill the spider. During the hunt, Jess discovers that Cece has a new crush and she is desperate to find out who it is. It becomes clear in season four that Cece has developed feelings for Schmidt once again. Jess’s confusion makes her wrongly believe that Cece’s crush is Nick and through miscommunicated signs, Jess gives permission for Cece and Nick to start dating. When Jess realises that Cece has feelings for Schmidt, she decides to not meddle with his relationship with his current girlfriend, Fawn (Zoe Lister-Jones); instead, the simple act of support by holding Cece’s hand, is enough for both of them. The absurdity in the episode with the gang is hilarious as Schmidt is gripped with fear when the spider crawls on his face, Coach trying to craft an email to his potential lover and Nick adding ingredients to his disgusting sauce.
What makes New Girl’s special is the multiple bonds developed between the characters, especially between Nick and Jess. Their friendship began very subtly as Nick helped Jess with her menstrual problems and gave her advice on her relationships while simultaneously also developing crushes on each other. When Jess and Nick shared their first kiss, it formed a kind of relationship that was genuinely charming and anticipated. Everyone was rooting for Nick and Jess! Their connection was electric and when they finally admit their feelings for each other, Jess and Nick end up running away to Mexico as they are afraid that things might change for them when they return home. Eventually, they reassure each other by telling themselves things will always be normal and return home.
When things do get complicated, in the episode “Prince”, Jess and Cece get invited to a party when they almost get hit by Prince’s manager’s car. Prior to their departure for the event, Nick confesses his love to her for the first time and Jess fails to properly return the sentiment before she leaves. At the party, Jess attempts to say it back to him but faints instead. In the backyard, while Jess and Nick are figuring out where her head is, Prince appears behind them. Jess and Nick are shocked at his appearance and they both freak out and Nick faints in front of him. Prince asks Jess if he could help her navigate her feelings towards Nick and so, he keeps her busy by engaging her in random activities such as playing tennis and repeating the words “love” to each other. Eventually, Jess comes to terms with her feelings and confesses her feelings to Nick. A few minutes later, Prince invites Jess to the stage to perform with him and the entire gang ends up having a good time.
By the last season of New Girl, the entire show is summarised in seven episodes that depict events following a three-year time jump. It reveals Nick coming back from his European book tour and trying to propose to Jess, Cece starting a modelling agency and Schmidt taking care of their child. Winston is married to Aly (Nasim Pedrad), his partner at the police station and the pair are expecting their first baby together. In the two-part season finale of New Girl, which ended very abruptly, Nick and Jess finally get married. As expected, nothing goes smoothly when it comes to the gang. Nick and Jess sleep together a day before the wedding which leads to many superstitious occurrences. Jess takes a fall and breaks her cornea, the nearly married couple find out that they have to move out within 30 days, Jess’s previous boyfriend comes to the wedding and confesses his love to her resulting in getting into a ridiculous fight with Nick and Aly goes into labour so they rush to the hospital. So with how everything turned out, Nick and Jess decide to start their “weird, wonderful, life” together by getting married at the hospital. Their relationship was inevitable and even if Jess wants Nick to be in her “friendship hole” instead of admitting that she had feelings for him, they were always going to end up together. Their love started with a platonic bond that was so uniquely portrayed and cemented a lifelong status in the history of sitcoms.
In the last episode, Jess has a hard time accepting that they have to leave the apartment. She brings back the gang together and reminisces with old objects from previous seasons to remind everyone else what they are leaving behind. At last, they play their last game of drunk True American while packing the last of their boxes. As they are packing the boxes in the truck, Winston reveals his greatest prank “Engram Pattersky”, a fake landlord invented by him to get Jess and Nick thinking that they were getting evicted. After the reveal, Nick runs off and screams at the top of his lungs, then turns around and backs back to the group. Everyone gets into the moving truck and drives to Nick and Jess’s new apartment.
New Girl is similar to other sitcoms, like Friends and How I Met Your Mother, where they sit at the bar or hang around at the loft, but compared to their higher-rated alternatives, the show offers healthy friendships and episodes that are not problematic. It presents a refreshing and mostly chaotic friendship that goes deeper beyond platonic friendships and explains how these kinds of relationships with people can change lives. These plot points are an ode to the previous seasons like a blueprint that shows what different elements made New Girl the way it is. A sitcom that presents destructive and healthy friendships comes with the great cost of seeing a beloved series end the way it did. However, regardless of that, New Girl is adorable and funny in many unimaginable ways, and there is never a dull moment between Jess, Cece, Nick, Schmidt and Winston (and Coach). As the series progressed, it introduced fun, weird and awkward moments between the cast that surprised the audience. From the loft number 4D to the elevator, the platonic bond between this ensemble of characters is wholesome, and something that we can all return to even if it’s over for good.
Edited by: Raayaa Imthiyaz