New Girl was….okay! Like, you could be watching much worse sitcoms I guess?
7. Season 6: Bad. Very, Very Bad.
This was just an awful season of television. You see it happen with lots of sitcoms over the years where they just run out of steam. While this show was never great in the first place and always had serious cracks in the foundation, it was still genuinely shocking to see how far it had fallen in what turned out to be its penultimate season. The biggest indicator of the trouble was how the show decided to stall on Nick and Jessica getting together yet again. In addition to keeping Nick and Megan Fox together, the show actually spent a not-insignificant amount of time on Jessica dating Robbie. At first, it seemed like a one-episode gag but basically the whole season was built around half-heartedly trying to sell the idea that Nick and Jessica were not gonna end up together. Awful. Embarrassing.
6. Season 7: The End
New Girl ended with an abbreviated eight-episode season. For the final run, the show jumped three years into the future. It’s one of those choices in a television that gives everything a fresh coat of paint. But if the show is already off the rails, it does not really fix any of the core issues. That is what happened with the final batch of New Girl episodes. Schmidt and Cece are raising a toddler. Nick is somehow a sincerely successful Young Adult author. Jess and Nick are on the road to marriage. Winston and Nasim Pedrad are about to have a baby. Etc. The show lost whatever it had though and doing a time jump was not gonna help anything. Compared to season 6, it is absolutely preferable just for not being a total dumpster fire.
5. Season 5: The (First) Megan Fox Season!
Two things stand out about this season. Plot wise, this season is about the gradual build to Schmidt and Cece’s wedding. After years of start and stop, this season signaled that Schmidt and Cece were finally done fucking around. There was a natural consequence to this dynamic though. Cece removed a lot of Schmidt’s edge as a character. It’s similar to Chandler on Friends only at least Chandler got a longer time to be out there being a psycho.
The biggest thing about this season that stands out obviously though was that Zooey Deschanel was absent in 6 episodes of this season for maternity leave. This led to Megan Fox taking her place for that stretch of time and leading to her romance with Nick on the screen. It was…fine? It did however make the show feel very disconnected, and the Fox/Nick stuff never fully clicked. Maybe if they brought in someone who could be on the rest of the season it would have worked better. Alas.
4. Season 2: Chaos and Messy
Season 2 is the season where every character’s life got extremely messy. Schmidt and Cece came into this season after their pre-mature-only-on-a-sitcom-breakup. Jess got fired from her teaching job and inexplicably could not find another one despite living in an impoverished city. Mitch and Cece kept starting up and then breaking up again. Nick and Jess almost started being together. And I guess Winston’s personality got less normal and closer to Winnie the Bush. Anyway, all of this is to say that you cannot say that the show didn’t keep things from getting stale. It did feel very sitcom-y though in a way that makes me roll my eyes. A little bit of the punch from the comedy gets taken away when you try to make a soap opera out of the main characters. It’s one of those sitcom things that has very little margin for error and is better left in the past.
3. Season 3: Nick & Jess, Winnie the Bish, and Coach is Back
Season 3 continued the very chaotic and messy path that the show started to go down at the end of the first season with all the characters progressively falling deeper and deeper into insanity. Nick and Jess are full on together this season, and while they have great yin/yang chemistry and are believable as a couple, you cannot help but feel like the show was shooting itself in the foot by doing this. The characters all having their own sex lives separate from each other gives them a lot more room. Winston goes fully off the reservation this season after his season premiere breakup with Brenda Song. This is a very comfortable comedic sensibility for Winston but it is at times disturbing to watch! And finally, and most importantly, with Happy Endings dead once and for all, COACH IS BACK IN THE LOFT. The post-pilot exit for Coach is one of those happy accidents where it allowed New Girl to bring in Winston but to keep the door open for Coach to return and it completely paid off. The major plus of going further and further with the absurd is that the show felt much more confident about how to do the zaniness which gives it a nudge over season 2.
2. Season 4: Soft Reboot
Season 4 felt like an ever-so soft reboot of the show. They reestablished themselves as a six-person show with Coach fully in the main group from the start of the season and barely any serious romantic entanglements within the group throughout much of the season. In many ways, this felt like what the show should have always been, as opposed to going the Friends route with all the characters hooking up with each other always distracted from the funny. This was a season that much more often than not (in comparison to seasons 2 & 3) was much more focused on the funny. The one real big negative was the season finale which shifted firmly back in the romantic direction and wrote out Coach! Boo!
1. Season 1: SCHMIDT
There were highs and lows to this season, and there were aspects that the show did really well and stuff that should have never made it past the writers’ room. The only thing that really matters though is how much Schmidt was such a breakout character. Max Greenfield was just a energy, comedy, and charisma dynamo right from the jump, and he became the essential piece of the show right away, as he was just operating on a significantly higher lever than everyone else (which is saying something because everyone else was essentially carrying their weight – especially Jake Johnson). He made this show WORK and stand out in a way that it could have otherwise been written off as completely forgetful.