Sometime around September 2011, I became obsessed with FOX’s freshman show New Girl. And somewhere around April 2014, I gave up on it. I don’t think I’m alone in this. My mom, sister and our friends stopped watching then, too. This was season 3, around the time that token will they/won’t they pairing Nick & Jess broke up and then went on a couple’s cruise together. Coach had, seemingly weirdly, just returned. Cece and Schmidt weren’t together. Either I was just too busy with schoolwork to put in the effort, or it was just enough overload to give up all together. Season 4 came and went. I saw online that it ended with Cece and Schmidt getting engaged, but the only episode I actually watched was the last 15 minutes of “Spiderhunt” that I sort of left on as background noise before the finale of Parks & Recreation. I remember thinking they’re all just standing around making sauce. Now I know why I stopped watching this, as if I needed to justify why I forgot about the show that gave us panic moonwalking.
And then season 5 was pushed to a January premiere. I have next to no idea how the network executives arrange their schedules, but as a viewer this always feels like a bad sign. Glee‘s final season got a short January release, and so did Parks & Rec (even New Girl creator Liz Meriwether assumed they were going to get canceled). Even though this seemed like a bad omen, the premiere coincided with season 4 going up on Netflix, so out of pure boredom I figured I’d give it another shot. If New Girl was going to get canceled and the season 5 finale would it be its goodbye, I’d try to catch up and see it get sent off. Turns out it wasn’t canceled, and I did catch up, and thank God.
Now that I’m all caught up and have seen Schmidt’s Long Island speech, I can say with certainty that New Girl isn’t a perfect show, but it feels really close. My love of sitcoms might cloud my judgement a little bit, but New Girl takes the cliche and the weird and completely commits. It has everything you could ever want on a comedy (weird living arrangements! Two straight dudes who are in love with each other! A guy who’s best friend is a cat!) and yet somehow keeps coming up with ways to punch you in the gut and make you want to move in with a bunch of strangers. Last night’s double header “Wedding Eve”/”Landing Gear” was no exception. “Landing Gear” took the Doucebag Jar that was so perfectly and hilariously introduced way back in episode 1 and smashed it (literally- it was a Jewish wedding, after all) as Cece & Schmidt got married. “Wedding Eve” brought back both Tran, the mute old man who Nick has an inexplicable friendship with, and True American, the greatest game nobody knows how to play. Even Coach- Coach!- came back to celebrate and remind everyone that he really is the best. There was a naked Winston, more Zombie novels and an almost-rekindling of the Nick/Jess romance. There was Peter Gallagher, romantic gestures and classic mixups. It was everything you’d want from a finale in a season of television that gave it all.
And by the way, “Spiderhunt” was one of the best episodes of season 4. New Girl, I love you. Thanks for taking me back.