Coach’s return to “New Girl”: Too little, too late

I mourned Damon Wayans Jr.'s departure for years. But now that he's back, it's not clear where he fits in

Topics: TV, New Girl, Damon Wayans Jr., Happy Endings,

Coach's return to "New Girl": Too little, too lateNEW GIRL: Coach (Damon Wayans, Jr.) decides he is going to train Nick to get him into shape in the "Menus" episode of NEW GIRL airing Tuesday, Nov. 12 (9:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Greg Gayne/FOX (Credit: Fox/Greg Gayne)

Last night’s episode of “New Girl” marked the return of Coach, played by Damon Wayans Jr. For those who have not watched the Fox series since the beginning, A) don’t sweat it, the show got off to a rocky start, and B) Coach was the original third male roommate — Nick, Schmidt, and Coach — with whom Jess moved in, thereby setting up the quirky girl-fish out of water premise. Coach was a loud, testosterone-fueled person trainer who unceremoniously disappeared after the pilot. (Wayans, who had already starred in a season of ABC’s “Happy Endings” when he shot the pilot, decided to stick with his old show even after “New Girl” went forward.)

I lamented Wayans’ departure for two whole seasons. While the other characters’ personalities cemented and the actors found their comic footing — Max Greenfield as the irrepressible Schmidt, especially — Winston, who replaced Coach, could never seem to mark off a clear lane for himself. Frequently, I actually felt sorry for the actor Lamorne Morris who valiantly shouldered all of the extraneous sitcom contrivances the writers foisted upon him. The work troubles, the dating mishaps, all of it was space better occupied by the other characters and none of it seemed to click — until this season.

Last night, Coach returned, seeking the consoling arms of his old friends — and a room full of strippers — after a bad break-up. (The real life parallel: “Happy Endings” was canceled this year.) There is speculation that he will reclaim a place in the loft now that Schmidt, at odds with his roomies, has moved across the hall. I balk at this. Guess what, folks: Even TV hindsight is twenty-twenty.

Coach only ever had one character trait, which is that he couldn’t talk to women. Other than that, he basically yelled a lot. (I went back and watched the pilot on Netflix. Wayans, a naturally funny comedian, scored a couple laughs. But the character was ultimately one dimensional.) In last night’s episode his boorishness and indifference toward women was ramped up a notch, but not enough to make him interesting.

In contrast, Winston’s ineptitude — which has developed over time from an exhausting lack of confidence to a whacky, endearing unpredictability — trumped both the show’s A and B story lines when he unknowingly purchased two thousand dollars worth of strip club “bunny money” and was unable to spend it on anything but Velvet Rabbit-branded food and merchandise. Coach’s funniest line came courtesy of the defeated look on Morris’ face: “You keep making mistakes, Winston!”

So, kudos to the writers of “New Girl” for getting Winston to a place where he makes an impact. The question now is, where does Coach fit in? It’d be a shame to waste Wayans, now a free agent, on a team with too many star players already.

Neil Drumming

Neil Drumming is a staff writer for Salon. Follow him on Twitter @Neil_Salon.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows


Loading Comments...