When last we saw the gang, Nick and Jess had decided to give their weird and wacky romance a go of it, Schmidt had run screaming from two pretty spectacular women (Elizabeth and Cece), and Winston had just lost a battle with a badger.
Welcome back, New Girl.
The Fox show that began as a super adorkable Zooey Deschanel vehicle turned into a genuine ensemble comedy in its second season. Creator Elizabeth Meriwether and company risked falling into a classic trap by fostering a pairing between Deschanel's Jess and her perpetually grumpy roommate, Nick (Jake Johnson, who broke out as a genuine star last season). The two have demonstrated a palpable chemistry since early on in the series.
Some of us, myself included, were hesitant to accept the couple, but by giving the audience a little of what they wanted (like this, and this, oh, and this), but still leaving it wanting more, New Girl resisted the Moonlighting curse, in which a show jumps the shark when the two main characters pair up.
One of the best aspects of Nick and Jess is not how well they kiss, but how well they fight. (Or, you know, both) The hope, of course, is that their decision to go "All In" — the title of the third season's premiere episode — does not turn them into season seven Jim and Pam on The Office (whom I loved, by the way, but who got pretty boring in the later seasons).
Deschanel sees the relationship as creating new opportunities for character and plot development. As she told CraveOnline, "Once you put them together, you can pull them apart, you can twist them around, throw 'em up in the air, do so many different things." The season's tagline — “Friends don't let friends do friends” — certainly implies that the show's central romance will not be without its twists and turns.
Schmidt (the fearless Max Greenfield) will be dealing with his own romantic foibles, as he faces a nearly impossible choice between Elizabeth (Merritt Wever), his college girlfriend who knew and loved him before he was a successful executive with a six pack, and Cece (Hannah Simone), who called off her wedding for him. I'd like to learn more about Schmidt's background this season: where he comes from and what his family is like. I want to see how he went from a goofy Big Guy to a lovable but sometimes insufferable douchebag (will there be a return of The Jar?). It's nice that the show's executives saw fit to de-twee things a bit, but one of my few complaints about New Girl is its tendency to rely on Jewish stereotype jokes for Schmidt-related laughs. I don't want to see that. I don't want to meet Schmidt's mother and be reminded of the mother from Portnoy's Complaint.
I'll be honest: I don't think Schmidt and Cece are a great match, and that's not just because I think Wever is fairly fabulous, and a good fit for the cast. It'll be interesting to see where the triangle goes.
New Girl devotees will remember that last year, Cece's arranged marriage story kicked off after she got the news that her fertility was in jeopardy in the episode "Eggs." I hope her concern about being able to have children isn't swept under the rug this season. After all, more women are having babies at a later age, but society and biology are not necessarily on the same page. According to the Centers for Disease Control, between 1996 and 2011, the number of babies born in the United States via artificial reproductive technology nearly tripled.
For those of us in our 30s, fertility issues are a genuine concern. Meriwether has stated in interviews that she prides herself on keeping the characters and the relationships real, amidst the jokes. Hopefully, the writers can follow the thread of Cece's fertility worries in a realistic manner, while maintaining the levity upon which the show was founded.
Speaking of levity, Winston (the underrated Lamorne Morris) is always good for a laugh, but this year, it would be nice to see him have an actual storyline of his own. Spoiler alert: I hear he gets a cat.
Perhaps the impending departure of Daisy (Brenda Song, who will be a regular on the new Fox sitcom Dads) and the return of Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) to the loft will spark some plot possibilities for ol' Winnie.
So let's recap my big hopes for this season: that Nick and Jess stay in love without falling into sitcom romance traps, that Schmidt gets some backstory, that Cece's worries aren't forgotten, and that Winston gets to be more than a sidekick. While we're at it, one more thing. I'd like to see the return of Tran and the Douchebag Jar (that's a proper noun, right?), and more Jamie Lee Curtis as Joan Day.
Oh, and an explanation as to how a substitute teacher can afford all those super cute Mod Cloth dresses.