It happens to all of us. The adventures of your late twenties, which made for such captivating brunch stories and Instagrams, start to peter out as your mid-thirties approach. You could try to recapture the magic, of course, straining to come up with new antics or date someone awful just for the sake of the gossip you can share after. Or maybe you lean into the mundane—make your baby the star of your Instagram, start cooking your own brunch. Its a whole lot easier than fighting the tide of time.
So it goes for adults. But sitcoms play by different rules. Theyre constantly required to challenge its characters and force them to adapt to weird situations, even if that means fiddling constantly with who they are. When New Girl ended its sixth season in 2017, cancellation seemed imminent, and the writers wrapped up the season with a hasty happy ending for Nick and Jess (together again!), Schmidt and Cece (having a baby!), and Winston (contacting his estranged father!). Then, gifted with a surprise eight-episode wrap-up mini-season, show-runners Brett Baer and Dave Finkel and creator Elizabeth Meriwether wisely launched their characters three years into the future, turning them into full-blown grown-ups—but with a short seasons worth of sitcom hijinks to send them out in style.
And so it went with Tuesday nights two-part finale, which, like most New Girl episodes, adopted sitcom tropes to its own zany purposes—some of them funny, some of them veering into the same plot ditch so many shows have encountered before. The first half of the two-part finale, “The Curse of the Pirate Bride,” felt particularly like a sitcom classics speed-round, with a wedding and childbirth and a last-minute confession of love from an ex all crammed into a chaotic 22 minutes. Plenty of jokes landed; Nicks awe at Russells strength, even while they were locked into a fight, was a better showcase for Jake Johnson than the rest of the episodes wedding-day jitters, and the reveal of Jesss bruised eye at the altar was suitably funny and gross. But given that the writers knew they had eight full episodes to wrap up the series, its baffling that most of the mini-season would be given over to silly misadventures (Cece gets locked out of her daughters day care!) only to squeeze all the milestones into half of an hour-long finale.
The second half, “Engram Pattersky,” fared better, though its a rough start with yet another New Girl story based on the notion that Jess has the brain of a child and must be placated—in this case by having her entire group of friends stay and reminisce about life in the loft before she and Nick are evicted. Their grudging trip down memory lane does, of course, turn into genuine shared nostalgia, with one last round of True American and a peek down the hallway next to the bathroom that had never been shown on camera. (It ends in a concrete wall). By the time the True American game flashed forward, showing the gang all together with elementary-school-aged children and sensible middle-aged haircuts, the finale achieved some real heart-tugging emotional weight—which was somehow only enhanced by the reveal that the loft eviction was merely Winstons latest, greatest prank.
Did New Girl really need these last eight episodes to send itself out the door? In a time when no network show, much less on Fox, has a guaranteed future, its always nice to see a series end on its own terms, and to let beloved characters—no matter how much change or horrible marketing theyve endured over the years—walk away happy and fulfilled. And its something of a relief for those of us in the baby-heavy Instagram phase to see these characters, whose twentysomething exploits always felt like a TV-enlivened version of our own, continuing to be funny and loving even when they have mortgages and promotions on the line.
But sitcoms are not people, or their characters; they have a time and a place, and New Girls had passed, despite the joy some of its best late-series episodes could bring. The lack of fanfare surrounding this series finale, even as Foxs other recent cancellations are loudly mourned, proves as much. Please enjoy your lives of domestic bliss and non-alcoholic True American, New Girl gang. Its O.K. that we wont be around to see it.
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