Ever since the confusing, weird, occasionally-awesome spring New Girl had this year, showrunner Liz Meriweather has spent a lot of time talking about how New Girl needed to get back to basics in season four. “The Last Wedding”, centered on the final wedding of wedding season where everyone desperately wants to get laid, is our first look at this new, more-like-the-old version of New Girl, where improvisation and riffing on single life was front and center – and as expected, it’s lighter and looser than the last season and a half has felt.
But does that make it ‘better’?
Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot about the Nick/Jess relationship I liked – and I continue to have a deep love/hate relationship for the way their relationship ended last season. But I think their relationship threw a show in transition off-balance, leaving characters like Schmidt (who the show turned into a full-on asshole last season), Winston (who the show’s only had a grasp on for a handful of episodes), and Coach (who was just returning to the fold, after being gone for nearly 40 episodes) in the wind, undermining some of the show’s best comedic (and in the case of Schmidt, narrative assets). “The Last Wedding” is definitely a return to the group dynamic I missed last season, albeit under uncomfortable circumstances; with everyone so desperately trying to get laid throughout the episode, it was hard to take anyone seriously when they started talking about being in relationships or anything even slightly resembling maturity of any sort.
Where “The Last Wedding” works best is when its not trying to do anything narrative – Jessica Biel’s spot as a jealous, equally desperate woman vying for the sexual pleasures of one Reid Scott (Dan Egan on Veep). Those scenes are uncomfortable at best at portraying Jess “getting back out there”; where “The Last Wedding” succeeds is at being funny, at giving the talented actors on this show great jumping off points for random riffs. It still remains married (no pun int- ok, totally intended pun) to its old narrative structure, ending with Nick and Jess learning from their shenanigans and sharing a cute .gif-worthy moment together – and it remains unclear whether it’s going to be able to keep those particular familiar rhythms, given the complicated romantic history the two of them now have together (the gift and the curse of the “will they, won’t they”, something every comedy from Cheers to Friends has struggled with).
But the important thing is the show didn’t forget to be a comedy, and throughout “The Last Wedding”, New Girl certainly feels less tense and rigid than much of the back half of season three felt, while the show was fishtailing creatively and struggling to give its ancillary stories and comedy any significance. There are still some balancing issues to be worked out (and will the show find another beat for Coach besides “sad victim of breakup”?), and I’d love to see CeCe be a real character again, but “The Last Wedding” is funny, and very much feels like a show regressing to the enjoyable ensemble comedy it was early on, before it put its heart and its foot in its mouth. I just don’t know if it makes the show any better – it certainly makes it more relaxed, but only time will tell if that laissez-faire nature will come at the expense of its own significance.
– I don’t really have any for this episode; I watched it a few days ago, and spilled coffee over my notes before writing this review. Disappointing, I know.
– Sex Fist!!!