If there is one thing that the characters of New Girl have perfected throughout its run it is the ability to run away from learning how to make themselves better. We see this multiple times throughout “Teachers”, twice literally, and this fact showcases how scared the core cast is of exposing their true weaknesses. The only difference here though is that they are forced to deal with these shortcomings in the here and now.
The episode starts by having Jess and Coach head off to a teacher’s convention while the three original male cast members are left at home for a Guy’s Night. Breaking the roommates up into these two groups allows for distinct subplots to form and character relationships to be put on full display. This has been a strength of the early fourth season, allowing smaller relationships to draw focus and garner great emotional effect. Whether it has been Jess & Winston from “Background Check” or Coach and Winston in “Goldmine”, the writers have been able to craft substantial emotional cores for the characters while allowing the rest of the crew to carry the comedic burden.
The side plot of tonight is that humor honey hole and is not what you would consider important in the grand scheme of the show. Guys Night Out was supposed to revolve around staring at girls doing yoga from Jess’s bedroom window and going out to a bar and attempting to get lucky with some ladies. Instead, it devolves into a Guys Night In when Nick realizes that Schmidt doesn’t know how to do laundry and Winston doesn’t understand how to read a ruler. Yes you read that right, Winston doesn’t know how to read a ruler. Moving on. Learning montages follow, some (a lot) of sangria is drank and voila you have your comedic portion of the episode. While that may seem like a lazy solution to a problem, the chemistry between the three characters makes the storyline irreverent and hilarious. Especially when the night breaks down further to fort building and love song singing.
The smaller relationship that is explored is the mutual fear of both Jess and Coach concerning their work lives. Jess has a growing crush on British-good-guy Ryan that will cause professional ethics issues if she considers making a move while Coach is disillusioned by the thought of having to teach a Health course. After an over the top speech by Lisa Bonet’s Brenda Brown to open the conference the two are split apart. Jess is of course paired up with Ryan on multiple occasions for team building exercises including a blindfolded obstacle course where he catches her from falling and a question & answer exercise where she learns he has “spools of yarn”. In Jess’s eyes this makes Ryan more and more of the perfect man for her and continues to put pressure on her moral resolve. Coach on the other hand heads to the conference’s bar where he happens to come upon some fellow Health teachers (Ned!). Drinks ensue, Coach gets quite inebriated and decides its a good time to get up on the roof of the pool cabana. Cue the duo’s emotional conversation of the night, where Jess (and a increasingly likable Ryan) attempt to talk Coach off the roof by letting him see that Health is an important course and that he is a perfect teacher to scare the kids into using condoms. Coach also has the line of the night where he exclaims that sex, “feels good for a second and then you’re sad.” So true Coach, so true.
The resolution of the episode expands the plot line for future episodes when Jess finally kisses Ryan, something every viewer should have seen coming. It is a necessary outcome for a series that doesn’t have a overarching story-line for the year as of yet. The inclusion of Ryan into the group and how their relationship will play out at the work place, plus the hopeful inclusion of Curtis Armstrong in future episodes, allows the show to push the narrative forward. A bridge episode can sometimes become bogged down through advancing the plot but “Teachers” was able to overcome that by great chemistry by the two pairings of roommates and some truly memorable laughs.