Showrunners: Brett Baer, Dave Finkel, Liz Meriwether
Main Cast: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris, Hannah Simone, Nasim Pedrad, Danielle Rockoff, Rhiannon Rockoff
Notable Guest Stars: Damon Wayans, Jr., Brian Huskey, Rob Reiner, Dermot Mulroney, Gillian Vigman, JB Smoove, Sarah Baker, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ralph Ahn, Robert Smigel
Episode Running Time: 22 Minutes
This review contains spoilers, but this isn’t really a spoil-able type of show.
New Girl Season 7 is one of the most inessential seasons in television history. That is not a criticism, but rather, a description of an unnecessary, but very satisfying batch of episodes. All television, and all storytelling more generally, is inessential, insofar as we could survive without it. Life would be much less enriching without entertainment, certainly, but it would be possible. But once a story begins to be told, there is a sense of necessity that it must be concluded. And it could easily be argued that by the end of Season 6, New Girl had reached that conclusion, with all of its main characters having achieved major milestones in personal and professional fulfillment. But this show, at its best, has been about so much more (or so much less, but in a good way) than checking off the major storytelling checkpoints.
Nick and Jess are one of my favorite TV couples of all time, and if the last we saw of them was their kiss in the elevator at the end of “Five Stars for Beezus,” I would have rested easy in the belief that they had a long and happy union together. But I am usually hungry to see what happens when the tension of a potential couple turns into the comfort of an actual couple, and New Girl has shown itself to be the type of show uniquely suited for making that pivot interesting. With a three-year time jump to kick off the season, it seemed like we would be heading into a new status quo, but then we discover … Jess and Nick still aren’t married yet? There’s no need to panic; they are still together and happy, they have just been busy with other things, like Nick’s book tour for The Pepperwood Chronicles. But still, you would think they could find some time to put a ring on it. It turns out that much of the delay is attributable to Nick ensuring that his proposal is absolutely perfect. That obsession could have caused major strife in the past, but it is a mark of maturity for both the characters and the show that it is ultimately no big deal.
While Jess and Nick remain the last two residents of the loft, and perhaps a little bit stuck in neutral, the rest of the main crew has decidedly moved ahead to the next stages of their lives. Schmidt and Cece’s toddler Ruth Bader (Danielle and Rhiannon Rockoff) is genuinely adorable but also filled with the sort of moxie and traces of anxiety you would expect in a child whose parents are a mix of blunt and high-strung. Winston and Aly are expecting their first child; his strange propensities, and her incredible ability to accept them, are still intact, just transferred to the minutiae of pending parenthood. For the most part, the unique ways that this whole group communicates with each other remains just as intact. They are sometimes applied in fascinating new ways, as when Schmidt and Jess hash out who has the best approach for Ruth auditioning to a prestigious pre-school. But that sameness also results in hijinks that probably should not be happening anymore, as when Cece and then Nick get locked out of Ruth’s school and get mistaken for creepy lurkers, and it is like: okay, guys, we’re getting a little too old for these shenanigans.
Season 7 is not completely allergic to big final season moments, but it presents them in the uniquely askew New Girl manner. There is a one-year anniversary memorial service for a close friend who died during the time jump, and that close friend is … Furguson, of course. Winston insists that everything be performed in the Jewish manner, because he always saw his cat as Jewish, and while that does sound ridiculous, it also sounds perfectly logical when Lamorne Morris explains it with such certainty. We also, rest assured, do get that last anticipated bit of matrimony, but it all goes delightfully sideways, with a scratched cornea, an impromptu service in a hospital, and Tran’s first ever spoken line of dialogue.
Naturally unnaturally enough, there is still one more episode left to go. “Engram Pattersky” does at first appear to fit into a classic series finale box, i.e., the pack-up-and-move conclusion. It really is time for for Nick and Jess to get out of that rickety old loft and start a new chapter in their lives, even it takes an eviction notice to get them to that realization. The final reveal that the eviction angle is actually Winston’s greatest prank ever is perfectly in line with the show’s ethos, but also a little stunning. Winston never suggests that he was just trying to give his friends the motivation they needed to move forward. And that really is the New Girl way. If you want to find meaning in this young adult life, then you have to do so amidst all the chaos and indirect communication, as you scream and hopefully laugh along the way.
Best Episodes: “The Curse of the Pirate Bride,” “Engram Pattersky”
How Does It Compare to Previous Seasons? This is definitely an epilogue season, but for this show, that means it has never been more sure of its identity than at any other time during its run. It does not reach its most classic heights, but that is perfectly okay.
New Girl is Recommended If You Like: Happy Endings, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Recreation, Friends
Grade: 3.8 out of 5 Messarounds
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