New Girl: Season 6 — a review

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The word “sitcom” is short for “situation comedy.” Typically, a sitcom will center around a fixed group of characters in a particular situation, or setting.

For instance, Cheers was a sitcom that centered around the employees and customers of a Boston bar. News Radio was about characters who worked at a news radio station. Wings: airport. Think of any other work setting (school, paper company office, Big Box retail store, etc.) and there’s probably a workplace sitcom for it. If not, go ahead and pitch a script.

In other sitcoms, the “situation” is a bit more nebulous. In That ’70s Show, the situation is the decade the characters are living in. In How I Met Your Mother, the situation is the framing device, in which the character is telling his future children how he met their mother. In Friends, the series begins with Rachel being the “new girl” among a group of friends, but the show becomes about the relationships between these six friends as it goes forward.

With New Girl, the premise is that Jessica Day moves into a loft with three men and has an effect on their lives. Early in the series, the loft provided the location of most of our scenes. This setting, where all of our main characters frequently came together, was as important as the Cheers bar in that program.

By the time we get to Season 6, the initial premise has flown right out the window. The show is no longer centered around the loft or how these roommates must adjust to each other. It has become more like Friends, in fact, in that explores the relationships between our loftmates and their extended “family” of friends, in multiple settings. The loft becomes one of many settings, just like that impossible NYC apartment Monica and whoever lives in was just one setting.

I’m pointing this out to you now just to emphasize that the show evolved from its earliest incarnation, when the show was about Jessica Day and the people who lived in the loft with her. By the time we get to Season 6, New Girl is so much an ensemble show that Zooey Deschanel isn’t really the central character any longer. In fact, she was able to miss a large chunk of Season 5 to deliver her baby without the series losing much cohesion. Jess’ quirky, alt-rock, polka-dot personality was the gateway drug that led us to this ensemble show, and, while she remains an important component of the show, she’s just one of many such components.

The events of Season 6 feel like the show is winding down to some sort of conclusion. In fact, the short Season 7 would be its final season, so this wasn’t the wrong impression to receive.

Schmidt and Cece’s house-hunting, -buying and -renovating becomes the clothes tree where a lot of episode plots hang from this season. Along with their marriage, this is another example of the show veering away from the loft as a central setting. During this season, Cece also opens up her own modeling agency, leaving her bartending gig at Schmidt and Nick’s bar.

Our central characters “growing up” to more adult things is a theme in Season 6. Jess finally gets her dream job as school principal. Nick finally writes a novel. Winston is finally in a stable relationship with Aly. Schmidt and Cece move into their new home.

On the romance front, since the other characters are in committed relationships, only Jess and Nick can provide us with episode plots centering around love-related issues. Jess realizes she still has feelings for Nick, but Nick is trying to make things work with Reagan throughout most of the season. During the finale episode, predictably, Jess and Nick become a couple. Again. Maybe this time it will stick.

During the season, however, Jess begins dating Robby (Nelson Franklin), with whom she shares a lot of common traits and interests. They end up splitting because they find out that they are related. That’s kind of a funny plot twist, because the two did seem like a better match than Jess and Nick.

A lot of other things happen this season. There’s a Brooklyn 99 crossover episode when the gang goes to New York City. I’ve still never watched an episode of that series unless this one counts. Schmidt’s father, Gavin (Peter Gallagher) comes back for the Thanksgiving episode. Reagan temporarily moves back into the loft. Cece and Winston develop a closer friendship, and at one point compose an EDM song together. A couple of episodes center around Cece’s new modeling agency. Conflicted over her feelings for Nick, Jess goes to stay in Portland for a while with her father (Rob Reiner). Cece becomes pregnant. And, we learn that Schmidt’s first name is actually . . . Winston.

Another entertaining season, and the penultimate one. I like spending time with these characters, and I always recommend it to anyone looking for a good sitcom to watch. As a sitcom, it is episodic in nature, even though the characters do change and grow (and move) from season to season, but not in drastic or overly dramatic ways. The school principal Jess Day isn’t that different from the pilot episode Jess who just broke up with her boyfriend and moves into the loft. The viewer could watch any episode in the series, out of sequence, and still be entertained.

The humor here alternates between the adult and the silly. I still wouldn’t recommend it for children.

Firewater’s Season 6 Report Card: B+

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