New Girl "Fluffer" Review: The Jess and Nick Saga Takes an Interesting Turn

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Oct 03, 2012

New Girl S02E03: “Fluffer”

This week, New Girl referred to Nick as being Jess’s “fluffer” in the pornographic sense of the word: the person who keeps a porn star aroused between takes during filming. Through Winston, the writers made note of Nick’s role as the emotional support of every shallow relationship Jess has had. His duties extended beyond friendship requirements and straight into fluffing territory. Nick served every function of a boyfriend for Jess without actually reaping the sexual rewards of being her boyfriend.

But there's another, less X-rated, definition of fluffing. In public relations, “fluffing” refers to damage control, to spinning an embarrassing gaffe or unfavorable stance in order to present it in a positive light. Airing on the eve of the first presidential debate of the upcoming election, I’m sure New Girl did it on purpose. Nick didn’t take kindly to being called Jess’s fluffer and embarked on a campaign of his own to prove that their relationship was a positive one. Meanwhile, Winston channelled his inner Jimmy Carter by cheating on girlfriend Shelby in his mind. President Carter, of course, once admitted to committing adultery “in his heart” many times, and both he and Winston expressed remorse over their wandering eyes.

Schmidt made the most obvious political makeover, creating the persona of “Tug Romney,” son of Mitt, to gain access to an exclusive club in hopes of befriending Kanye West and raising his social capital. Meant to be a one-time thing, Schimdt had no choice but to take his disguise to the next level when the sexy lady president of a pro-Romney group hit on him. Schmidt’s anal-retentiveness worked in his favor and he sucked down Romney factoids with ease. It was the execution that ultimately screwed him over, as well as an uncontrollable bout of daddy issues.

As it turns out, Schmidt’s relationship with his own father is rocky at best. After his father left his mother, Schmidt and his mom became strangers in his father’s shiny new family and as Schmidt researched the Romney family in order to convincingly pass himself off as a son, his longing for a father figure flared up and kicked into overdrive. Politics aside, by all accounts, Mitt and Ann Romney are good parents and their family is tight-knit. It’s natural that Schmidt would find himself smitten with them for that reason alone, not to mention the fact that they’re wealthy and fashionable, too.

But Schmidt got so caught up in his fake reminiscence over a fishing trip with Papa Mitt that he let the details slip: specifically the part about the Romneys being Mormons and, contrary to what Schmidt waxed nostalgic over, there probably isn’t any beer on Romney family fishing trips. Oops.

It was a big oops, actually, in the presence of what basically amounted of a group of Romney fangirls. They immediately called Schmidt out on his slip-up and ultimately, through the magic of the internet, confirmed that there is no Tug Romney. Poor Schmidt. He didn’t get to hang out with Kanye and he didn’t get laid by the Romney fangirl. He DID get to snuggle with Cece’s boobs when she came over to comfort him, though. There’s hope for them yet! Maybe. I hope.

Jess’s shallow hook-up of the week was with Sam, the gent we met last week who is, according to Jess, “the kind that you bang,” not the kind that you have any kind of actual emotional relationship with. Besides, she has Nick for that. Nick and Jess went on “dates” and took trips to Ikea. Nick assembled her furniture and offered the emotional support that Jess wasn’t looking for in Sam and he was generally happy to do it until Winston pointed out that he had no reason to be happy about being a “fluffer.”

Logically, no, Nick didn’t have a reason to relish his role in Jess’s life. If we want to strip things down to their barest components, Jess essentially used Nick, but as she pointed out when he inevitably confronted her about it, she didn’t realize what she'd done. That’s not an excuse, but there IS a reasoning behind Nick and Jess and why they currently CAN’T be NickandJess.

At Winston’s encouragement, Nick stood up to Jess and refused to assemble her new Ikea dresser. He was sick of being the boyfriend without the boyfriend benefits. Startled, Jess asked him if he actually WANTED the benefits, which led to much bumbling and backtracking because Nick has the self-esteem of freaking Eeyore and I actually can’t help but wonder what would happen if he just ASKED Jess out like a functional human being.

Actually, based on Jess’s own examination of their relationship, there’s a good chance she would probably turn him down... for now. Jess didn’t realize that she was essentially using Nick as an emotional crutch. She always kept her relationships in neat little boxes: boyfriends in one box and friends in another. She never intended to mix their respective contents. Between Nick’s generally low opinion of himself and Jess’s quirky rationalizations, these two definitely have some work to do before they can actually WORK, but New Girl is treating their almost-romance with maturity and a level of realism that makes their continued separation welcome rather than infuriating.

For me, many sitcoms fall into the sort of trap that Jess currently lingers in. Relationships, especially those between the “golden couple”—like JD and Elliot on Scrubs and Leonard and Penny on The Big Bang Theory—have to be in neat little boxes just like the ones Jess referred to. JD and Elliot were either together or they were incapable of interacting with one another. Leonard and Penny are either together or they’re not speaking to each other for half the season. What we have with Jess and Nick is a refreshing rejection of that painfully annoying (and occasionally unwatchable) tradition. They exist in an amorphous place where they can be friends and constantly cross the line into boyfriend or girlfriend zone without actually claiming either of those titles. It’s a friend zone, but a friend zone with potential and now that they’ve realized—and embraced—it, the potential to give their formless situation a shape they approve of has only grown.


– One-liner of the night: Nick’s “This place is fancy and I don’t know which fork to kill myself with.” Oh man, I’ve been there, bro. Start from the outside and work your way in. Yes, I take my fine dining cues from the dinner scene in Titanic.

– Loft Troll. I love it. I also loved the thermos full of white wine. A thermos full of booze, man, it takes me back.

– I liked Winston’s story this week! I especially liked how he wasn’t isolated in his own storyline and actually managed to have meaningful interactions with everyone else’s stories as well. More of this, yes?

  • Comments (18)
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  • SteveWaugh3 Oct 05, 2012

    like John implied I'm surprised that some one can make $9430 in 4 weeks on the internet. have you seen this site link

  • CrazyAsian1080 Oct 05, 2012

    What Im the most amazed at, though it's only been a season so it could still happen, is Schmidt hasn't been Homernized yet. I bet the writers are walking a fine line with that character. I can see it being really easy to make Schmidt too Schmidt.

  • TrueTvWatcher Oct 04, 2012

    Another Awesome Episode! This show really exceeds expectations and has turned the series into something spectacular! The character development feels natural, the situations are realistic and the jokes are funny. I loved the whole Loft Troll thing and how Jess played into it.

  • Carson Oct 04, 2012

    Taryn Southern was great!

  • AllieAllie Oct 04, 2012

    omg I thought that girl was her! D: I wasn't sure until I saw this comment

  • DavidJackson8 Oct 04, 2012

    I guess I kind of disliked this episode. I liked the plots for all the characters, but uh... I didn't laugh at all throughout the half hour. For a second there, I forgot that this was a comedy.

    On paper, that scene with Jess and Nick yelling over each other probably seemed funny, but watching it on screen, I wanted to kill myself because I wasn't able to kill them through my screen.

  • gericom Oct 04, 2012

    "nice, there's a of the last new girl episode! maybe it's interest... oh wait, it's written by mary-ann. bummer"

    but I don't mean to troll or hate. it's just that her reviews seem to consist mostly of reporting what happend (which is kinda unnecessary since we've all seen the episode) and some semi-obvious remarks about what could or should be. well whatever, I wish you the best. maybe your reviews get better some day.

  • lotuski Oct 07, 2012

    Totally agree. Compare to other episode reviews, this is blah to me :-/ hoping for better write-ups in the future as well...

    Loved this episode btw!

  • safibwana Oct 04, 2012

    So you're saying I can read MaryAnn's article and not have to suffer through the pain of watching awkward people be awkward? Awesome! Oh, right, that's exactly what I'm doing. Sort of like a "we watched it for you", but I might start watching again if it ever starts sounding good. This way, I'll be caught up. It sounds like you're saying her coverage is fairly complete, thanks, that is good to know, coz now I won't feel the need to watch the episodes I missed if it does get good. So, ya know, works for me (which is what counts from my perspective).

    As to the overall quality, it seems you just value different things than she puts in her articles. You can boil down most of the complaints on this site to: (1) omg, this is a recap and i want opinion! OR (2) omg, this is opinion and i want a recap! I've decided all your opinions are invalid. And I've seen every writer on this site hit from one side or the other or both. Each writer seems to include exactly as much from each end of the spectrum as they want and that's just fine, because I don't recall reading anywhere that this site is dedicated solely to one type of article or the other (if you read that anywhere, it was a lie, because this site pretty clearly has a relatively loose format).

    Basically, this is the zillionth time I've seen some variation of this comment on this site. Basically, the lot of you exhaust me.

  • gericom Oct 06, 2012

    to tell the truth, my "complaint" doesn't fall in either of your categories - I was mostly trying to be as nice as possible while still saying that I don't really know why Mary-Ann has a job, since her reviews provide almost no new insight at all. so that would be (3) omg, this is a rather weak recap combined with a mediocre-at-best opinon piece mixed in.

    no one makes me read those, I know, but it's still a pity.

    so to stay constructive: I hope Mary-Ann can maybe be more creative or thorough in the future, I wish here all the best so that maybe one day I'll read her reviews and say "that's interesting, I hadn't thought of that!" or something.

    oh and PS @safibwana, as don draper would say: I don't think about you at all.

  • DavidJackson8 Oct 04, 2012

    I don't necessarily disagree with you, but I will say, uh, "to each their own"... or um, "you can't please everyone."

    There are reviewers on this site that write more heavily opinionated and thoughtful reviews, but particularly if those opinions are negative, they often get flack for it. I never really understood that because an unopinionated review is basically just a recap, and I see absolutely no point of a recap, but whatever. I've basically just gotten to a point where I don't mind either -- I just read them then write my own thoughts of the episode or of other people's comments.

  • Hutchy_TVSeries Oct 04, 2012

    This episode was AWESOME!!! Can't wait for the Jess+Nick hook up.

  • FoxZerro Oct 04, 2012

    I'm glad the Kanye thing from last week came back with Schmidt. Also happy to see he and Cece continuing to interact with one another. Unfortunately it looks like it will be just another loss on the part of Nelson Franklin.

    Before this episode I was nervous that Winston had taken a back seat glad to see he got back in the game too.

  • DanetteRiggs Oct 04, 2012

    I loved the fight that Jess and Nick had where they were talking over each other and saying why they won't work... and then he called her phone to help her find it. I knew then he was going to put the dresser together...

  • torque_smacky Oct 04, 2012

    I don't know about you guys, but I changed the channel to Go On after around eight minutes.

    I had my fill of "Boy lies to attract girl" plotlines from Step By Step. (Seriously, what was wrong with JT?)

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