Quick comedy question: what’s the easiest way to get characters to be honest with each other?
Answer: get them drunk off their asses!
For the most part, “Coach” sticks the format of the ‘Drunk Family’ episode, using alcohol to help manifest some deep-seeded issues between characters – and in Coach’s case, a character we haven’t seen for a few years. It’s a very relationship-heavy episode, be it Nick and Jess, Coach and his ex, Schmidt and CeCe, or Winston and the Velvet Rabbit – and it’s one of the season’s highlights, a funny episode that has its fun with broad drunken humor, but finds time to pause and examine each of the five current and former loft members, and the point they’re at in their lives.
As is often the theme with New Girl, “Coach” is about growth: growing beyond the traditions of the past, and embracing a new direction in life. This formula is getting a little familiar with Nick and Jess already, but “Coach” does a good job moving beyond the petty fights, separating Nick and Jess so they can independently examine where their relationship is heading. Predictably, turning to broken-hearted friends like Coach and CeCe doesn’t go well for them: Coach takes the guys to an all-night strip club adventure, and CeCe bemoans men and pushes a devilishly-grinning Taye Diggs on Jess, who is too drunk to realize what she’s really walking into.
With Nick, the story transforms for a bit, and becomes a tale about old friends who fall into familiar patterns after too much time has passed. As Jess points out, these guys are in their thirties, spending a night in the strip club. But none of them are there to enjoy themselves, instead using the strip club as a way to avoid the obvious truths they aren’t willing to face (except Winston, who gets Random Plotline #3,000, accidentally taking out $2,000 in Bunny Money at the strip club): Schmidt and Coach won’t let go of what they’ve lost (and therefore, can’t grow as people), something Nick drunkenly tells them, after realizing himself how much he’s grown since dating Jess.
Both story lines coalesce to make the show’s strongest argument for the two as a couple: they’re both finally mature enough to open up to someone else, someone where secrets don’t have to be hidden, petty arguments don’t have to carry on (forever; they will still need them on occasion for drama/comedy’s sake, of course), and silly jealousies don’t need to arise when a naked black man appears in your girlfriend’s bed. The closing scenes make a very strong argument for their relationship: when you’re an adult (and not dick-punching friends, or trying to make someone jealous), silly things like titles don’t matter. All that matters is moving forward: growing, trusting, loving, and understanding a bit more about each other every day. If anything, “Coach”really nails that sentiment.
“Coach” isn’t an episode that will blow anyone away with its poignancy or hilarity, but it’s a solid, funny episode that continues the season’s theme of characters realizing what they have/had, and working towards keeping/obtaining it. Sometimes that will involve failure – Schmidt, Coach – but out of failure comes knowledge – and out of knowledge, comes growth. That’s why Nick and Jess don’t have to have the conversation about “what they are” anymore: after their drinking experiences in tonight’s episode, they’re fully aware of where they stand.
– Schmidt really has Raiders of the Lost Ark confused.
– More Coach and Artie, please.
– “Is that lobster gray?” Winston: “I bought the most expensive thing on the menu!”
– Winston: “you ever hear the joke about the two white guys and two black guys that walked into the police precinct? The two white guys came out.”
– Jess’s stunned “Shut your face” comments were hilarious.
– writers: please give Winston something to do. You’ve made him extremely funny: now just make him a character with a life.