It’s tough to tell what kind of show you’re going to get just from the show’s pilot episode. Many times, a pilot can be shot then months can pass before the series gets picked up. In that time, countless changes to the show can be made. In the case of New Girl, the most obvious change was that they replaced one African-American roommate (“Coach” played by Damon Wayans, Jr.) with another (“Winston” played by Lamorne Morris). Wayans actually was contractually tied to another show that got picked up that same season, Happy Endings (this would end up becoming my favorite sitcom during its short, two-season run; you can find his Happy Endings castmate Adam Pally over on The Mindy Project where he was promoted to series regular).
Unfortunately, after last season, Happy Endings was cancelled. Fortunately, that means COACH IS BACK!
We find out Coach is one of those guys who disappears when he’s in a relationship, which explains his two-year absence. However, the roommates each get texts from Coach telling them to get ready to party. We’re also reminded that there is still some tension between Schmidt and the other roommates since Schmidt’s decision to move out. But, during an awkward bicker-sesh between Schmidt and Nick, Coach magically appears.
This leads to one of my favorite moments where Coach admits he doesn’t remember who Jess is, even though Jess tells him they shared a moment during the two weeks they lived together (the Bin Laden/Seal Team Six announcement). Coach tells her he thought he was alone during that specific “moment.”
When Coach tells the guys he’d like to go to a strip club, Jess pulls Nick aside to let him know that makes her uncomfortable. Nick is torn between honoring Jess’ wishes and not acting whipped in front of Coach (“Is she not letting you go?” “I’m just telling her what cake to bake me, son!”). Jess angrily tells Nick to go to the strip club with the boys, and she will go out and enjoy herself as well.
Jess ends up going to the bar with CeCe who, still stinging from her Schmidt-break, tells her guys suck and she needs to play the game. It just so happens, a barista who looks like Taye Diggs asked Jess out and gave her his number, to which she replied, “shut your face.” CeCe encourages Jess to give Taye-Diggs-Barista-Named-Artie a call.
At the strip club, Winston accidentally buys $2,000 worth of strip club money that can only be used at the bar or at the gift shop. He was not aware of this. Really!? $2,000!?
Schmidt and Nick are horrified to find out that Coach is planning on being out until the sun comes up. Schmidt has a presentation in the morning and Nick wants to get back to Jess but Coach isn’t letting them go.
Back at the bar, CeCe called Artie while Jess wasn’t looking. CeCe talks Jess into giving Artie a chance. Artie starts talking about Brazil, Nick goofs up a phone call, and next thing you know, Artie is giving Jess and CeCe a ride back to the loft.
At the strip club, Winston’s spent his strip club money on a lobster dinner, Nick finally tells Coach how he really feels about Jess, and Coach confesses that his girlfriend, Malia, dumped him for some guy named Derek which is why he’s trying to make himself feel better with strippers. They decide to leave, but Coach doesn’t tell the guys that he decides to make a pit stop at the police station, because, apparently, that’s where Malia’s Derek works and Coach wants to give him a piece of his mind. That leads to this nugget from Winston:
“Did you hear the joke about the two black guys and the two white guys who walked into the police station? The two white guys walked out.”
The guys are wasted, stuff goes down and they run away. But not before this happens:
Back at the loft, CeCe reminds Jess that what she has with Nick is special, and apologizes for projecting her feelings about men on her. But, during that conversation, Artie has made himself at home in Jess’ bed.
Nick gets home and catches Artie in Jess’ bed to which Jess begs Nick to believe her when she says nothing happened. Nick responds that he believes her, gets in bed with Artie, knocks him out, and throws him in the elevator.
I’ve mentioned before — and Grantland writers Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan echoed this same sentiment during their Hollywood Prospectus podcast — that it took the New Girl writers the better part of two seasons to figure out what to do with the Winston character. Even now, he seems to kind of do his own thing, often acting separately from the other roommates. It was nice to see Winston become more a part of the main plot and interact with the other guys more. The relationship between the roommates inched forward a little more, with Schmidt becoming a little more okay with the Nick/Jess romance. And, last but not least, Coach is sticking around for at least a couple more episodes. In my book, that’s more than enough to look forward to.
Quick side note: In case you missed it, you can win a trip to the New Girl set and hang out with Hannah Simone and the cast by donating to her Pink Daisy project charity, which supports young women and mothers with breast cancer.
G.B. doesn’t stand for Gareth Bale. It might stand for Graduated, Barely (from law school). After spending time in Texas and Pennsylvania, he now lives in Northern California where he makes gifs and watches a lot of TV, movies and sports.