FOX’s New Girl sends its cast out on a boat for the third season finale, aptly titled “Cruise.” This is supposed to be a romantic getaway for Nick (Jake Johnson) and Jess (Zooey Deschanel), but having broken up, they decide to bring all their friends with them, hoping that will lessen the weirdness. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of activities for lovers that the couple must engage in, reawaking feelings, made worse when no one is helping them through it.
The chemistry between Nick and Jess is electric throughout the first couple of seasons, which New Girl then decided to go for in year three with a full-fledged relationship, only to have it fall apart after a short time. This is not what fans want. Television shows have tried for years to unnaturally string along a leading duo, tossing every obstacle in the way they can (see: Friends, Bones, Castle, The Big Bang Theory, The Office, etc.). What most have figured out, though, is they have to give into it eventually or risk alienating those who watch mainly to see the pair end up together.
The sooner New Girl does this, the better. Watching Nick and Jess interact in “Cruise,” it’s very clear they belong together. She rejects him when he goes in for a kiss, but they share many lingering looks. This screams for resolution, and there’s no reason to wait five years to get it. If the writers are afraid they won’t be able to keep up interesting stories after this, then the writing is weak in the first place. It’s time for character development.
The other couple on the show is in almost the same boat, excuse the pun. Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Cece (Hannah Simone) have been dancing around one another ever since their break up at the end of season one. Schmidt loves her, of course, even if his idea of grand, romantic gestures isn’t what will get him this girl. And New Girl teases us in the finale by having Cece gaze longingly at Schmidt in a picture, proving the feelings are mutual. Why not go for it?
Of course, putting four of the six main characters (Damon Wayans Jr.’s Coach has now been deservedly upgraded to full-time cast) in long-term relationships would drastically change the show. That’s a good thing. Sitcoms often try to stay stagnant as long as possible, not wanting to mess with their dynamics. Yet, when they give in and allow life to take its course, it allows them to go deeper. Did Jim and Pam getting married ruin The Office? Is The Big Bang Theory less funny now that most of their guys have partners? No to both.
It’s time for New Girl to undergo a similar transformation. Doing so will keep the series fresh. That might mean Coach and Winston (Lamorne Morris) have to take a step forward, especially in the love department, but both performers are more than up to the challenge. All comedy can grow stale if it treads water. So far, the show is still good. Let’s hope it makes the right choices to continue to be that way, unlike, say, How I Met Your Mother, which got extremely disappointing in the middle years when it couldn’t allow itself to evolve.
It’s really interesting that Coach has returned and is sticking around. He appears in the pilot of the show, but then disappears because the actor was in Happy Endings instead, and is replaced by Winston. Now, Winston isn’t going anywhere and Coach is added to the dynamic, making for a physically crowded apartment, but not a too-big cast. It’s not often a character and their replacement can co-exist so easily, but New Girl has somehow done it, and it’s working well, which is only possible because they made the wise decision early on to play to Morris’ strengths, not making him a clone of what Coach is introduced as.
“Cruise” itself is a humorous episode. Two good guest stars, Oscar Nunez (The Office) and Kerri Kenney-Silver (Reno 911!), are underused, but only so that the focus stays on who it belongs, the principles. Winston, in particular, has some of his best awkward moments, petting Coach’s ear and shouting his name to Oscar at a weird time. However, each member of the ensemble is served, from Coach’s fear of the water to Schmidt being tickled by strangers for being a Grumpy Gus. Hilarious!
New Girl has been officially picked up for a fourth season, which will begin this coming fall on FOX.
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