Season 3 of New Girl was my least favorite season of the series going into this one. But, it wasn’t awful. I graded it a B+, which is only disappointing after finding out that the first two seasons both got A‘s.
The show made the Moonlighting mistake of letting Nick and Jess become romantically involved, which changed the tone of the series and led to the eventual (and expected) break up. Are Nick and Jess fated to be together when this tale about a group of friends sharing an LA loft is over? Time will tell. Sure, I like the two of them together. But, that’s the ending to a series, not a season arc.
Season 4 does its dead level best to right the wrongs of the previous season. And it does, for the most part. Jess is getting back into the dating game, and Zooey Deschanel is terrific at making this awkwardly funny. Nick spinning out of control on his own is also funny. I like these two characters, but it seems I prefer them when they are apart.
Coach is now a full-fledged member of the gang again, at least until the end of the season, when he moves to New York to be with his girlfriend. Coach didn’t seem as extraneous as he did in Season 3, but I was still glad to see him leave again. We needed to get back down to our core group.
Not only are Nick and Jess no longer a couple, but Schmidt and CeCe are both single again throughout the season, until Schmidt proposes to her in the last episode.
Jess dates several new guys during the season, including a guy played by Alan Ritchson (currently Hawk on DC Universe’s Titans) suffering from a medical condition known as micropenis. She, of course, falls for a teacher at her school immediately after enacting a faculty non-dating policy. This relationship is also doomed from the start.
That seems to apply to the relationships of all of the characters on the show. Schmidt ends up in a relationship with ball-breaking politician Fawn Moscato. Nick dates the granddaughter of his elderly friend Tran for a while. Winston, who has now fully embraced his career as a policeman, falls for his partner Aly, who doesn’t seem to return his feelings.
I guess Coach’s relationship actually flourishes, since he leaves LA to move to New York with his girlfriend. Also, Jess’s dad (Rob Reiner) seems to do well with his much younger girlfriend Ashley (Kaitlin Olson, from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), whom he marries in the episode “Oregon” later in the season.
In spite of the improvement in tone over the previous season, this season does seem to lack a certain amount of focus. There’s no real season-long arc, just random couplings and decouplings, with a little workplace stuff thrown in to spice things up. You might say that this season was about patching things up between Schmidt and CeCe, since he ends up proposing to her at the end. But, it really didn’t feel that way during the season.
Casual drug use again rears its ugly head, in one episode where pot brownies are baked and the gang has to meet Winston’s cop friends while stoned, and in another where Jess’s mom (Jamie Lee Curtis) has taken hallucinogenics. This and the abundance of sexual plots and themes doesn’t exactly make this series kid-friendly. However, they’ve probably seen worse.
I liked Season 4. I liked it better than Season 3, although you might not think so when you see that I’m giving it the same score. The newness of New Girl has worn off by this point, and some of our characters’ antics are beginning to seem a bit worn. Some of the jokes and comedic beats are beginning to seem too familiar, too comfortable. This isn’t all bad, because I still enjoy being around these characters.
However, it’s not the same level of enjoyment that I had for the first two seasons.
The thrill’s not gone entirely. I’m hoping we can rekindle a bit of it in the next season.
Season 4 Report Card: B+