There are only a few episodes more to the end of the fourth season of “New Girl.”
The FOX sitcom has often come close to the funny perfection of the timeless masterpiece that is “Friends.”
Yet, the show -- which, with its second season in particular, managed to represent another enviable group of friends, telling the typical problems of this generation of 30-somethings – may not be renewed for a fifth season.
As its fans will know well, the show’s ratings plummeted as soon as Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) officially became a couple after their two-season on-and-off thing.
However, even when Elizabeth Meriwether, the creator and main writer, made them separate – admitting on Twitter to be better in writing about singles rather than couples (and writing a terrible but predictable episode in which Jess and Nick questioned their relationship) – ratings did not improve that much.
What is it about the last two seasons of “New Girl,” then?
The Nice Guy Complex
Yes, we live in 2015. In this world, Emma Watson has launched her campaign for gender equality, “He For She,” and Reese Witherspoon hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in “Wild.”
“Parks and Recreation” sadly came to an end, but “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is ready to conquer the planet in a matter of weeks.
Patricia Arquette made a fervent speech on the current status of women in the film industry, and Drew Barrymore is writing her first autobiography.
In short, we live in a particular year, and if all goes well, women will get a bigger slice of media’s attention, while Hollwood will become an even more fertile territory for gender equality debates.
That said, whether we consider ourselves feminists or not, ‘The Nice Guy Complex’ in “New Girl” may sound awfully annoying for us all. Because it is useless to deny it: Nice guys, at least on television, continue to make us yawn.
Nice Guy 1: Nick Miller (first, second and third seasons)
Nick is the male character who, at first, may seem like a bad guy. But, looking closer at him, he is the worst kind of nice guy that can exist.
In the first two seasons, watching him fall in love with Jess was exceptionally entertaining, as well as highly educational; it was a bit like watching Rachel and Ross of “Friends” getting together for the very first time after too many embarrassing attempts.
But, when the authors decided to make them an official couple, Jess and Nick’s storyline fell into the oldest trap of the history: a total absence of conflict. And, without any conflict, it is clear there is no tension nor involvement.
Nice Guy 2: Ryan Geauxinue (fourth season)
Ryan (Julian Morris) arrived shortly after Jess and Nick broke up because of their apparent incompatibility.
There isn’t much to say about him: British, sweet, sensitive, seemingly rich and literate. It’s as if Prince Harry infiltrated the LA school where Jess teaches, begging her to adopt him.
The writers played for a while with the fact that Ryan was the male counterpart of Jess in tenderness and cuteness. They even introduced some little yet trivial obstacles along the way to make us think their romance would not go beyond two or three episodes.
And, indeed, Jess and Ryan did not last that long, but, certainly, much longer than was tolerable or expected.
The result? The writers had to get rid of him, too.
The Bad Boy
This is the missing ingredient on "New Girl."
“Gilmore Girls” was, perhaps, one of the first, valid TV shows to demonstrate the role of the bad boy in television.
Rory, the show's protagonist, was more or less a younger version of Jessica Day. Her character grew up before our eyes.
Rory went through all the stages of "finding the perfect boyfriend" -- from the nicest guy ever (Dean) to the true bad boy (Jess Mariano) to finally ending up with the redeemable bad guy (Logan).
As a matter of fact, “Gilmore Girls” became a television cult because it managed to combine a brilliant main plot (the relationship between Rory and her mother) with a long series of romantic affairs, which were always exciting and unpredictable.
“New Girl,” on the contrary, has not explored with how it might benefit from the introduction of its own bad boy – in a world where bad guys have often turned the worst television product into the most watched and rewarded one (i.e. “The Vampire Diaries”).
It is quite clear Jess and Nick are made for each other, as well as Ross and Rachel of “Friends” were true soul mates, but in the meantime, there shouldn’t be another Nick or Ryan thrown into the plot.
This show needs better conflicts -- asap.
And the best conflict to save "New Girl" can only be the missing narrative ingredient, which the authors are still refusing to use: an engaging, "politically incorrect" bad boy.