I am, admittedly, a little confused about the direction New Girl seems to be taking us. As the show’s third season drew to a close I couldn’t help but look at our characters and wonder if there was anything the writers could do with them that would surprise me at this point, and whether or not that was a bad thing. After season two ended viewers were hoping that character development would be made. Instead, we got a lot of drama surrounding the characters, a lot of pieces being moved to different places and then back again, and a lot of rehashed moments.
Despite this, there were still a lot of laughs, a lot of genuine character moments that reminded us why we enjoyed watching them (particularly when the creators embraced the kooky nature of their cast) and on top of that, the chemistry that the group delivers is just fantastic.
So we chugged along with season three, acknowledging the pitfalls while trying—and failing—to not compare it too much to season two and continued hoping that by the season’s end it would have figured itself out and determined how they wanted to proceed with the show.
I thought it had done just that at about five different points throughout the season. I was sure that each time that this happened, each time an episode promised a hint of something special, a hint of something that made the show so innately watchable, that it meant the subsequent episodes would turn everything around.
It would seem that instead season three would end just as it started with one major difference: it was a little sloppy, naturally good-hearted and easy to watch—just as it was at the start—but now Jess and Nick have just broken up rather than learning how to deal with a new relationship.
I prefer the latter.
The finale episode conforms to one of the more irritating sitcom stylings and does their big, location episode on a cruise where there are plenty of extras to make the show seem bigger. Irrationally, I think one of the biggest issues I took with the episode was how disconcerting it was for them not to be on familiar territory.
The other problem was that it seemed like a step backwards from last week’s episode. The big theme of the episode was getting Nick and Jess to finally confront their current predicament and learn how to move forward in an adult fashion. The problem is that Jess and Nick would rather ignore the problem and pretend everything is fine rather than admit to real, heartfelt emotions. So while nautical hijinks are taking place, Jess and Nick realize that maybe being friends is too much to ask for right now and decide to spend the rest of the trip apart. The group feels a little guilty despite the fact that Jess and Nick were the ones who forced them to come along so that it wasn’t awkward and so that they could get their money’s worth. The friends, however, had a hand in pushing the two into their weird breaking point, making them promise before they left that they wouldn’t make the cruise uncomfortable for the rest of them.
So they lock them in their room and force them to speak. They talk about how difficult it is to live with an ex and how they’re always in close proximity. What happens when Nick or Jess bring home other people? How do they move forward when they’re always together when typically most people would be moving in opposite directions? All reasonable doubts, ones that don’t seem to get a ton of closure, but apparently by the episode’s end they’re okay with them and willing to move forward.
The end of the episode is the best part with the group getting locked in their room for a period of time before being released and going crazy because of it. They end up back at their loft hanging a picture of their escapades and Schmidt mentions to Jess and Nick that he can share a room with Nick (bunk-beds) so that they can have the distance they need. It’s the type of nice thing that Schmidt does that is just weird and just genuine enough to make it okay.
And wrap: everything was put into its place, everything was seemingly resolved, the tension is gone and things are totally, super okay.
Except like I mentioned, it seemed like we took a step back with this week’s episode.
Last week the show also took the cast to a different location—this time the gym of the school dance they were chaperoning—and allowed them to run wild. Last week it seemed like a retreat to the old, reliable methods where they had the characters put in bizarre situations and then let the actors play off of each other in their collective chemistry. Cece and Jess were given a great moment together, Nick and Schmidt went back to their old high school archetypes and Winston was gawked at by a group of girls. And Coach did whatever was needed of him because they still haven’t figured him out.
But at the end, they all danced and Jess and Nick danced near each other in a friendly manner that made it seem like all uncomfortable tension was gone. And it was nice. I still would have preferred for the two characters to still be together but this was at least a way of having them separated and have them not dominate the storyline because of it.
So, to have the finale dedicate it’s time to the two characters and their break-up (after we’ve already seen it used as a storyline a few times in the last couple episodes) seemed pointless.
Moving forward with season four I hope that Elizabeth Meriwether and co. figure out the problems that have arisen in season three.
The most obvious being the Nick and Jess problem. I know that most people thought that the problem began when they got together but I don’t think that was the case at all. Remember the first kiss? The first true admission that they cared about each other? Remember when Nick came and literally swooped her off her feet in the elevator? These were great moments not just for the characters but for television. You remember these moments just like you remember when Ross stood in the rain outside of the café for Rachel or when she got off the plane.
The problems came later when the show didn’t address the realistic problems that could arise between the characters in their relationship early on, when it would have fit the narrative, and instead had them pop up near the end of the season and then had them break-up.
That is not fun.
Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel have amazing chemistry. It’s so good that most of us knew by the first few episodes that the two characters would end up together and not just because that’s the nature of sitcoms.
However, despite obvious comparisons to Ross and Rachel, I don’t want to see them become Ross and Rachel and doing the will they/won’t they dance for however long the series runs. That gets tiring and it ruins the appeal of the characters in the first place.
But they aren’t the only couple that the show needs to keep an eye on. Schmidt has returned at the end of the season as the not-so-secret weapon of the show because they’ve returned him to his best by making him genuine. Sure, he says stupid things sometimes but he’s always coming from a good place.
Compare that to the beginning of the season, when Schmidt was easily the worst part of the show (no matter how well Max Greenfield tried to sell it) and was trying to juggle two relationships.
Now they’re trying to lay the foundations for a future reconciliation between Cece and Schmidt and I don’t know if I want it. At the very least I don’t want him pining over her for the next season. The show is best when the show centers itself on the hijinks that these often times bizarre characters find them in.
On top of the relationship drama they still need to figure out Coach and if they plan on giving him any consistent characteristics and Winston, who they need to reign in on the crazy every once and a while.
The season as a whole, was a bit of a dud to me. Maybe that’s in comparison to season two but I also think season one had some gems that made it stick out. There was more of a formula to season three that made watching it each week less and less enjoyable.
The finale itself was okay but doesn’t do enough to make me remember it over the summer.
I still love watching these characters and there is some great, strong comedic talent on this show—look at any of the main cast to see it—but the writing disservices them.
I’ll still tune in for season four, but my expectations are being lowered for now.