The season premiere of New Girl implied that the show's writers aren't really sure what to make of Nick and Jess as a couple, which makes me less on board with this sitcom relationship than I thought I was.
Now, let's get this straight, New Girl is an unabashedly good show, and the episode that aired last night had very funny moments, most of which came from Max Greenfield's unimpeachable turn as Schmidt (Emmy snub!). But Schmidt—or even Lamorne Morris' poor Winston, whose neverending ride on the Side Storyline Express last night involving him being obsessed with a puzzle—wasn't really the focus of this episode. It was Jess and Nick as the show's Ross and Rachel or Sam and Diane.
But when Sam and Diane or Ross and Rachel were together, they were really together (unless, of course, they were on a break). New Girl needs to decide which it wants Nick and Jess to really be, especially because every viewer returning for season three is wondering just how the show is going to pull off having two of their central characters—who are roommates no less—in a couple.
At the end of last season, Nick and Jess drove off with one another committing to the relationship they'd been flirting with in previous episodes. It's not that Nick and Jess needed to be totally comfortable in their relationship. In fact, the first moments of the episode, in which they sit in the car giggling like loons to one another is a wonderful moment, reminiscent of the ending of The Graduate. Here are two people that don't know what they got into. If only the rest of the episode had captured that wonderful awkwardness.
Instead, it captured the awful awkwardness of a group of writers trying to figure out just where to take this relationship they created. The answer: Mexico! Blowing off their other roommates, Nick and Jess drive south of the border, where they proceed to (presumably, this is network television after all) have a ton of sex and crash a fancy resort. Yes, the point was that they were avoiding the reality of their new relationship, but it also felt like the show was avoiding the reality of their new relationship.
Most of the Mexico storyline felt nonspecific to New Girl—characters go to foreign country, one gets jailed, hijinks ensue—and that was partially because the defining character traits of both Nick and Jess were diluted because they were trying to be so genial to one another. The identity of the two got subsumed by the fact that they are now one.
Hopefully this is just a one off thing. The episode was best on the subject of Nick and Jess when we saw their relationship through the eyes of Schmidt and Winston, and that likely is where the show will go next week. (In an interview with Michael O'Connell of The Hollywood Reporter creator Liz Meriweather said: "They really have the feelings of Schmidt and Winston to contend with over the first couple of episodes.") Still, the show's going to have to feel more confident in their decision to make these two a stable couple. We want Nick and Jess to stay together, but we want the people that we fell in love with (while they were falling in love) not some bland couple that tries to forget their problems at a beach paradise.