One sitcom trope that has always driven me especially crazy is when two characters stay friends with each other (and their friend group as a whole) after they've split up. Maybe it's tense for an episode or two, and there's a good chance they'll reconcile (like plenty of exes that can't stay away from each other do), but for the most part it's an unrealistic portrayal of what it's like when two people in a group of friends split from each other. Lines in the sand are drawn, there are tears and there is jealously, among other unpleasantries. But, most notably, they would absolutely not hang out every single day (unless they worked together), no matter how close they were. While How I Met Your Mother has touched on the weirdness of Robin hanging out with her exes and the fact that Ted is still pining, New Girl (which is guilty of the exes-staying-friendly trope themselves with Schmidt and Cece) explored that issue last night in "Exes." The initial argument was that people only stay friends with their exes for the possibility of sex, but by the end of the episode, they figured out that that is impossible because there's too many unresolved issues. While I didn't love "Exes," I can appreciate what they were trying to do with this episode. Here are the do's and don'ts of reconnecting with your ex, according to New Girl:
Do: Trust Your Instinct When It Comes To Your Ex
Nick knew Caroline pretty damn well and he definitely knew she would not react kindly if they dug up the past. After Nick saw Caroline at the farmer's market and promptly freaked out, Jess suggested they "clear the air" (of course she did) so that they could both move on. And, honestly, so that Jess wouldn't have to give up her beloved farmer's market. ("I feel like Don Corleone.") Nick's coffee date with Caroline is a disaster, but Caroline really flips a gasket when she later sees Nick and Jess together and assumes she was cheated on. Caroline does every spurned ex-girlfriend cliché in the book as she destroys a car, comes knocking at her ex's door and demands answers. Nick eventually confesses to Caroline that the last time he left her, it was because he was in love with Jess. In fact, as he claims, he'd been in love with her since the moment he met her. (A stunned Jess said it took her "wayyyyy" longer, but go back to early Season 1 and you'll see it wasn't very long at all. Nice try, Jess.)
Don't: Lead Your Ex On
Jess may not have intentionally lead her ex, the granola, e-book writer Berkeley (guest star Adam Brody) on, but calling him "babe" and staying in almost constant communication definitely didn't help matters. Jess swore up and down that exes could be friends, but Nick was insistent that the only reason Berkeley was still friends with her was because he "wants to bone you." Jess rejected that idea as Berkeley was a married man and a father, but it turned out Nick was right. After inviting Berkeley over to help Nick with his Caroline issue, he professed his love to Jess and that he would leave his wife for her so they could be together. As he put it, Jess had been "setting up dominoes for ten years" and was giving her mixed signals like the time she brushed his hand at a Dave Matthews Band concert. (As a DMB fan, I gotta say, "Say Goodbye" would have been a much more scandalous song than "Two Step.") But Jess turned Berkeley's advances down and sent him and his son Henley on their way.
Do: Find Better Conversation Starters
Both Nick and Schmidt struggled to speak like normal human beings last night. Nick panicked during his coffee date with Caroline and talked about how weird it would be if we didn't have thumbs, while mid-sex slump Schmidt hit on girls by talking about his phlegm and how his apartment is so big "no one could ever hear you scream."
Don't: Turn Your Apartment Into The Apartment
Schmidt was desperate to have company over to his place, not only to show off his completed digs (and the various places he can have sex in it) but because he was so lonely he was talking to -- and crying over -- the grapes in his fridge. Winston and Coach finally come over to his trendy sex loft (he may have tempted them with coupons for free subs in the process), but Schmidt makes the critical mistake of giving them both keys. After successfully convincing a girl at the bar to come home with him (though, for convenient sitcom purposes only, has her arrive later and separately), Schmidt finds both Winston and Coach entertaining ladies in his bedroom and guest room. While Schmidt desperately tries to keep everyone in their own spots in the apartment, it eventually all falls comically apart when the men and their various dates meet in the living room. While the other two girls leave, Winston's hook-up partner, the bizarre Birdie (remember her?) stays put and keeps at it. Everything about this storyline was creepy (why did Coach have to say "vadonkey") and unsettling and just plain weird. This isn't really how guys hang out, is it?
Do: Practice Safe Sex
Especially if you are participating in various complicated sex acts such as the Jumanji, the Nia Vardalos and the pretty self-explanatory Sex on the Rug.
Don't: Listen To Your Significant Other's Ex
It's pretty rare that if the current S.O. and the ex talk about the person they both loved, the ex is going to talk about all the great things about them. No, it's a pretty safe bet they are going to talk about all the bad stuff. Case in point: Caroline unloaded on Jess about how Nick will eventually stop caring as much and hand-holding will turn into high-fiving, he'll stop laughing at all your jokes and he'll drift off during important conversations. That Nick is only delightful at that beginning of relationships and eventually Jess will be an ex-girlfriend and know exactly what she's talking about. Ouch. Now, this made Jess understandably upset, but I sincerely doubt Nick planned extravagant birthday surprises for Caroline and loved her instantly. And, lest we all forget, Caroline is hardly the victim here. If I remember correctly, Caroline was pretty awful to Nick during their on-and-off courtship and messed with his head and could be very cruel and their first breakup basically turned Nick into a basket case himself. Sure, it's good to have a healthy perspective on your boyfriend/girlfriend and their exes can provide some insight to that, but they are hardly the person you should compare your relationship to. Solid lesson there, New Girl. Now go teach Schmidt and Cece to stay away from each other again.
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