New Girl "Basketsball" Review: Fake It 'Til You Make It

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Jan 15, 2014

New Girl S03E12: "Basketsball"

Full disclosure: I know nothing, literally nothing, about the Bulls-Pistons rivalry, so if there were any lulz provided or references made during Jess and Nick's dry spell, I missed them. I'm sorry. I watch hockey. 

And now that that's out of the way, let's talk about "Basketsball." I'm so, so, so hesitant to say that New Girl is back because I've been cursed with the power to ruin things simply by opening my mouth, so rather than make some broad, sweeping declaration about New Girl's glorious return to awesomeness, let me just say that I really liked last week's episode, and I really liked this week's episode, and I'm kinda sorta back to being excited about Tuesday-night TV again, especially concerning some of the set-up New Girl has pulled together over the past two weeks—especially Officer Winston! 

Okay, so I was one of those awful people who was all "IDK about Coach IDK" when he first returned, and I was feeling very Jessica Day-ish in my concern over how Coach was supposed to fit in with a group that's had two-plus seasons to evolve without him—you know, if Jess was less I-wonder-if-seals-are-our-friends and more I-hate-everyone-don't-touch-me. When New Girl signed off in the fall with its mid-season-finale-that-wasn't, Coach was still a big question mark. He didn't have to go through the process of giving up and letting Jess rope him into talking about baby doves and repressed childhood traumas, and it turned him into a bit of an outsider. When Jess pointed out that she and Coach weren't really friends so much as she was Coach's buddy's girlfriend, she cut right to the bleeding heart of the matter. 

"Basketsball" was as much about Jess and Coach acknowledging one another on a more personal, rather than passive, level as it was about New Girl itself finally figuring out what to do with the guy. He couldn't be the meatheat dudebro forever, you know? One of New Girl's strengths has always been its writers' decision to write the characters as multidimensional as possible. Sitcoms don't necessarily need complicated characters in order to be successful, but those shows throughout history that've tended to stand out as "great" have generally embraced multifaceted characters who aren't forced to rely on gimmicks or catchphrases to be entertaining (this is why, as much as I love him, I tend to worry about the frequency with which Fat Schmidt makes an appearance). 

Also pleasantly surprising was Nick's role in the sex stand-off between him and Jess. She "closed the tap" on her side of the battle eventually, but Nick started it, and you just don't often see the guy in a TV hetero-lationship being the one to withhold nookie as a form of leverage. I'm not saying it never happens, but more often than not, the stereotype is moody women with perpetual migraines closing the gates to Fun Land until their sex-starved other halves are willing to do anything to get the log flume up and running again—as seen in the second half of "Basketsball" when Jess decided to mirror Nick's stance. 

The newly unemployed Winston was also forced to seek out a new place for himself, and maybe—just maybe—our Winniepooh made the first honest-to-goodness decision of his life this week. He utilized the experience he had shadowing Schmidt and thwarting Old Man Ed, thought critically about what he learned about himself, and entertained outside opinions without letting them completely overshadow his own feelings in order to (maybe) choose a career that he's genuinely interested in. That Winston would be the member of the group with an uncanny ability to read people is wholly appropriate. Winston's a weirdo. Weirdos are damn observant. 

No, but really, how do we feel about Winston's potentially bright future in law enforcement? 

And how do we feel about the potentially bright future for the rest of this season? I don't know 'bout you, but I'm feeling pretty good! (Better than Old Man Ed, at least.)


– One-liner of the night: Nick's rant about the strengths of analog over digital. I <3 Old Man Nick. 

– LOL @ Jess's sensual reading of the definition of a piston.

– Jess and Nick trying to be sexy just reminded me that they're like the least sexy people ever. 

– Some may say that Nick kicking Jess out of bed because of her Pistons shirt was a bit too far, but I say nay, for I once shared an apartment with a Flyers fan and we had to establish a strict no-jersey-flaunting policy. It was a trying time, living in the shadow of such an uneasy truce. 

– "But I need my Vitamin D." 

– Onesie pajamas: the BEST pajamas. 

– In case you could't place him, Old Man Ed was Bob Gunton from The Shawshank Redemption and Nip/Tuck and 24 and Royal Pains

– Bravo to Nick unashamedly playing the Dead Dad card. *high five*

– Bartender Cece will eventually get to do more than sling drinks and smile, right? 

– I guess "basketsball" would technically be the correct term? 

– What'd you think of this episode?

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  • pa-tan Jan 18, 2014

    Cop Winston! I want to see that!
    Jess and Nick trying to be sexy it's hilarious (loved the part when Nick turned himself on)
    So Cece and Schmidt storyline is on hold? not complaining just pointing it out.

  • JayAtkinson Jan 17, 2014

    New Girl has kind of started a trend on the reverse-sexual front. I noting something similar when Nick and Jess were dancing around their attraction in "Quick-Hardening Caulk" and it was Jess doing all the lusting and seeing all the suggestiveness in Nick's innocuous actions and (along with an old lady) doing all the distance-perving. I don't think I'd ever seen it done that way around before. Bravo for the continuation writers.

    And, thank the stars for you too, MaryAnn. I was getting so annoyed trying to remember where I'd seen that actor and then forgot to IMDB him after the episode. I feel as though a weight has been lifted now.

  • alyxkay Jan 16, 2014

    I think the Schmidt Ageism storline line was my least favorite B-Plots of the season. Never a fan of "Look, this guy is over 50 and too stupid to know things and work!" trope/plot device/whatever.

    As for Nick and Jess, was this the sexiest episode yet? And I'm talking about the ending....

  • sortamydesign Jan 16, 2014

    i agree, it's rarely written that a guy would close off to sex so score for the writers on that part. yes i have liked the last two episodes as well and i worry that by writing this i will also jinx it but maybe it will be double negative so it will cross off or something.
    i'm so hype for winston being a cop ugh i just get so happy when they have plot orientated stuff for winston so hopefully this can actually go through

  • Grumpyclown Jan 15, 2014

    Not as good as last week, but better than some of the other episodes.

  • AndreaMcCooey Jan 15, 2014

    Hate to say it, but Mindy is bringing the laughs more every single week. Once again, I only laughed once at New Girl. This disappoints me even more after last weeks episode, which was brilliant!
    Get it together, New Girl!

  • Grumpyclown Jan 15, 2014

    And Mindy has been consistently good this season

  • mdoz34 Jan 15, 2014

    Being a Flyers fan myself... what is your team Maryann?

  • LucyBarker Jan 15, 2014

    Best line: "I'm going to take you!... Respectfully."

  • 134sc Jan 15, 2014

    Great episode. I laughed throughout the whole thing.

    As for the rivalry, i am a big hockey fan and as such a TML diehard. I totally understood everything nick was saying. If the same scenario happened to me and my girl was wearing a sens or habs jersey...shes out.

  • ZeroCals Jan 15, 2014

    That was a fun episode. Winston has really been bringing the funny lately.

    In regards to the Pistons/Bulls rivalry: I've lived in both Illinois and Michigan, and I've NEVER heard anyone talking about that. Ever (I was even living in Illinois when Jordan took the Bulls to all those championships).

    Then again, most of the people I know and myself think basketsball is terrible (hockey is where it's at, indeed)... unless it's college hoops, because then you get to watch State fans and U of M fans tear into each other. God, those people will fight over anything.

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