“Emotional Fluffer” on New Girl

Image courtesy of FOX TV.

Robin Tarnowetzki

In last week’s episode of New Girl, Nick is informed by roommate Winston that he is an “emotional fluffer” for fellow roommate Jess. An emotional fluffer, as defined in the show, is “a boyfriend without the rewards.” Essentially, Nick becomes resentful because he is nice to Jess but doesn’t get the “rewards” a boyfriend would. Read: she’s not having sex with him. However, he reiterates that he doesn’t want the rewards. So…I’m not sure what he’s complaining about. I like New Girl, but it’s never been exactly progressive – and last week’s episode was a particularly egregious example. It’s perpetuating this weird and problematic cultural view that a man deserves something for being friendly to a woman, and if a woman doesn’t “reward” him she’s using him for her own gain.

There are probably women out there who use the adoration of men to get things. There are probably also men who use the adoration of women to get what they want. But Jess isn’t manipulating Nick or using him as far as I can tell. In the show, her crimes consist of: inviting him to IKEA, asking him to put together an IKEA dresser, asking him to call her phone when she loses it and asking him for advice on what to do with a casual sex partner when they’re done having sex (Jess decides to give him crayons “like a kid in a restaurant”). Nick confronts Jess about how she’s “using” him, and she makes the valid point that this is what friends do. Which is totally true!  I mean, have you ever tried putting together anything from IKEA? You need the Rosetta Stone to decipher those diagrams. It only makes sense to crowd source that shit. My friend helped me reconstruct my bookshelf after it collapsed, and I’m pretty sure she didn’t expect anything in return. Also, I’ve had people call my phone so I can find it because…that’s what friends do. Honestly, it’s not like constructing a dresser or making a phone call is some big imposition on your life.  Friends will help you because they’re your friend.

There’s a Craigslist ad from a guy complaining about how women use guys who are nice to them and never give them anything in return. One line says: “You ignored the nice guy. You used him for emotional intimacy without reciprocating, in kind, with physical intimacy.” Newsflash: If you are a man with a female friend, she doesn’t owe you anything for any emotional support you give her.  Friendship is about equality and mutual support and respect.

And I’ll close this post with words more succinct than mine, from Twitter user @naughtynerdy: “‘Friendzoning’ is bullshit because girls are not machines that you put Kindness Coins into until sex falls out.” M

Additional readings:

The Internet Nice Guy Rears His Ugly Head Once More

Lamenting the Friend Zone, Or: The “Nice Guy” Approach to Perpetrating Sexist Bullshit



2 thoughts on ““Emotional Fluffer” on New Girl

  1. All you say is true, they used wrong the concept of emotional fluffer. However it is real that some women can use a man as their emotional fluffer, in my case that happened, because she told me that she loved me, but she was always flirting with other guys, also she was obssesed with musculous men, and i couln’t do anything because it was a distance relationship, so i think that it’s possible to be in that kind of situation, as a man, and obviously it really sucks.

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