New Girl is a show that I’ve consistently found myself being surprised by, despite the fact that I’ve never had particularly high expectations for it. After all, the show’s premise was as basic as sitcom premises get – a newly single girl moves in with a bunch of single dudes and they like, get into hijinks and stuff. Yet the basic-ness of that premise is what allowed its writers the freedom to go in so many delightful directions. And in the process made me keep watching in an era where it’s become increasingly hard to stick with a show for more than the first three seasons or so.
Getting back to my consistently nonexistent expectations for this show, I’m not exactly sure what first compelled me to start watching New Girl. Its initial marketing was met with widespread groans due to the “adorkable” label being placed on Zooey Deschanel’s Jess, who would serve as the titular new girl of the show for 7 seasons. Though I suppose reviews started to improve for the show around the time Jake Johnson’s loveably scruffy Nick and Jess got together. And well, back in 2013 when I decided to give the show a shot, there were only so many truly great comedies on TV.
Which, of course, is not the case these days, considering how much the television landscape has changed in the 7 years since New Girl aired on an actual television network. But at the same time, I’d say New Girl these past few seasons was still one of the truly great comedies on TV, for no other reason than that it dared to be an actual comedy in a way that so few shows dare to be these days. In that it did everything in the name of a laugh. And you could feel both the writers and the actors constantly trying to top themselves in the name of pure unfiltered silliness.
Most surprisingly, New Girl – despite an uneven season 3 – was actually able to maintain, and some might even say get funnier as it moved into its later seasons. I suppose this was a surprising sensation for me, because I’ve gotten used to this post-streaming reaction of getting attached to shows right out of the gate and losing interest as they meander into their later seasons. But somehow, I found myself staying just as attached to these characters as ever, maybe because the writing kept on being hilarious, while you got the feeling that these actors really loved playing these characters and also playing around with each other.
This almost certainly has to do with New Girl being tied to an older era of TV, where a network show could be given a season or two to really find its voice, as well as to give the actors the comfort to develop into a tight-knit ensemble. I don’t want to sit here and pine for the old-fashioned ensemble sitcoms of yesteryear, but there is something to be said about the whole family dynamic that an ensemble comedy can produce. Which I have to assume is a part of the reason that New Girl‘s former lead-in, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, will live to see another day.
Anyways, why am I writing this post? Because New Girl just ended last night of course. Though I’m not sure I have much to say about the finale itself. The two-parter was filled with plenty of laughs and familiar faces, while everything that had been dealt with in this shortened final season came to fruition. Jess and Nick got married, Winston and Ali had a baby, and Schmidt and Cici ended up being roughly the kind of parents you’d expect them to be, while their daughter Ruth served as the season’s secret weapon.
I know, it seems a little antithetical to say that there wasn’t anything particularly unexpected that happened in this season or finale, despite the fact that I opened this by saying New Girl has constantly surprised me. But I suppose it’s because the show never aimed to reinvent the wheel, even if its visual style, as well as its well-rounded treatment of its female lead made it feel like a show of its moment. More than anything though, it was a show where you just wanted to hang out with the group of friends at the center of it. And thankfully, they’ll always be available for a late night hang at the loft on streaming, or whatever new platform that comes along.