After building up to the Nick and Jess relationship for the first two seasons, season 3 of Fox’s comedy New Girl starts with them finally together. The season took us on roller coaster ride of their relationship. Unfortunately, the relationship seemed to have more lows than highs both for the characters and the audience.
When Season 2 ended, Cece’s wedding had been aborted and Nick and Jess’ relationship had just begun. Winston also had a kind of girl friend. Everything was weird but good for most of the characters. Actually, lets just say that things ended weirdly but in a positive way. Anyway, as season 3 begins with the thing that fans of the show have been wanting for two seasons: Nick and Jess in a relationship.
Unfortunately, Schmidt can’t make a decision after being presented with an ultimatum by the two women he’s in love with. After a couple of episodes of watching him try to juggle two relationships things end the only way they really could: with Schmidt alone. Winston is also alone after breaking things off with Daisy. That leaves Nick and Jess as the lone couple in the series and Schmidt vowing to break them up. It also, somehow, left Winston pretty much dating a cat.
The next block of the season deals a lot with Nick and Jess discovering their relationship and Schmidt and Winston just kind of being weird. They find different ways to feel weird but the weirdness is pretty consistent. Eventually Schmidt even moves out of the apartment (all the way to the apartment across the hall). This leaves room for the return of Coach to the loft.
Coach’s return really shifts the dynamic of the season. It’s like a magic salve that gets the characters to mostly move on from the things that were happening earlier in the season. Coach being around also allows for the characters to pair off or be in different groups which means more comedic variety. Throughout the rest of the season there are several other developments:
- Nick inherits a few thousand dollars from his deceased father.
- Cece becomes a bartender at the bar Nick works at.
- Nick reveals that he actually passed the bar exam.
- Winston begins dating an off kilter but sexually liberated bus driver.
- Jess’s sister, Abby, shows up and lives with them for a while and sleeps with Schmidt…a lot.
- Coach and Cece go on a date, make out for a couple of hours and then decide to be friends.
- The gang goes to a party at Prince’s house and actually meets Prince, who helps Jess out with relationship issues.
- Cece starts dating a 20 year old Australian boat maker.
- Nick and Jess break up and make things weird for everyone, including themselves.
By the end of the season Nick and Jess have decided to try to face the awkwardness of their now deceased relationship and try to remain friends in spite of it.
- Nick and Jess’ trip to Mexico.
- Watching Nick try to simultaneously stop Jess from breaking into the principle’s house and stop Winston from murdering Ferguson.
- Nick: “Cece I’m sorry about this but I’m gonna stand up and you’re gonna see my penis and when I walk out you’re gonna see my butt. Let’s do this”.
- Pretty much the whole part of episode 3 where Jess finds about Schmidt cheating and the subsequent “junk punch” that Nick receives from Cece. Everything after that, not as funny, although his threat at the end of the episode is creepily funny.
- “The Captain”
- Jess going out with Taye Diggs and then Nick knocking him out.
- Jess hitting Schmidt with her car.
- Apparently, Schmidt has the same career origin as Barney Stinson.
- Jess’ birthday episode (episode 13) is probably one of the sweetest and most “feel good” episodes of the entire season.
- “I think…Prince is magic”
- Schmidt getting a “special” at the table.
- The scene when they find the group after they’ve been locked in a cruise cabin for 3 days.
New Girl has always been good at having outrageous reactions or moments in their episodes regardless of what’s actually going on. However, this season felt a little different. The relationship drama in the show (both from Nick and Jess and from Schmidt) really put a damper on some of the humor for me. The show is normally very good at using awkward or uncomfortable situations into humor. This season it felt like the humor was just a way to try to laugh in-spite of the situation instead of the humor coming from the situation.
The problem may actually be a result of the characters being too likeable. If I didn’t like Schmidt or the Nick/Jess couple it wouldn’t be so depressing to see them go through what they went through. The other option would’ve been for their situations to be more ridiculous. Take Winston, for instance, his break-up with Daisy was a pretty grounded reaction but his season long affair with Ferguson was so ridiculous it was hard to truly feel bad about his situation.
That wasn’t the case with Schmidt earlier in the season. I really felt for Schmidt in his situation because it wasn’t really a situation he put himself in. Throughout the show, Schmidt has actually done his best to do “the right thing” when it come to Cece. At the end of season 2, when Cece had the option of going another direction, she comes back to Schmidt and basically tells him to immediately drop his other relationship. If Schmidt had actually done that it would make him a pretty bad person, instead he gets stuck in trying to make the decision and loses both women. Even though Schmidt (Max Greenfield) will always find big comedic moments in an episode, this whole story arc was a real bummer and just left this miasma of sadness over several of the episodes.
Similarly Nick and Jess’s break-up was a bit of a disappointment. Nick and Jess have always fought and those have been some of the best moments in the show. With them together though, it seemed like the fighting became more and more consistent. I thought the best parts of the show were times where they worked together, like when Nick helps her get in with the teachers or the episode where Jess is trying to decide what to do with her career. Episodes, like Jess’ birthday were the opposite for me. Even though things worked out in that episode the whole part about Jess basically thinking Nick was incompetent felt genuinely hurtful and made it hard to kind of feel good about the rest of the episode since it wasn’t ever really resolved. Part of me wonders if the show runners were purposely making Nick and Jess’ relationship difficult as a kind of jab at the fandom for wanting Nick and Jess together so quickly.
I think that the problem comes down to the writing and the chemistry between the actors. Ironically, the problem may actually be that the writing and chemistry are too good. The writing in most comedy shows pretty much serves to set-up a joke. This happens in New Girl this happens too, but there are also over-arcing plot lines to the seasons and episodes that are actually pulled off very well and pretty frequently. Those things make me actually care about the characters and, because I care about them, it makes the show seem less fun when those characters are hurting. If I had cared less about the relationship turmoil I might’ve enjoyed this season more. As it was, I appreciated what the show did with the characters and how well executed it was (“well executed” by the standards of a sit-com anyway) but I can’t say that I enjoyed it as much as I did previous seasons. When the show returns next season I hope that it can get back to the character’s romantic relationships being in a consistent state so that they’re less distracting from the show’s normal comedic zaniness. Especially now that we know Coach will still be around in season 4!