Season Analysis: New Girl Season 3 had its share of hits and misses: put Nick and Jess’ affectionate but rocky relationship and the return of Coach in the plus column, Schmidt’s regression in the minus column (though it was a valiant effort), and everything Winston-related in both columns (since he was consistently hilarious, but also consistently detached from the rest of the group).

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“Keaton”
With the Cece/Elizabeth storyline, Schmidt’s characterization had gotten a little out of control in the New Girl writers’ room.  It was basically as impossible a situation as Schmidt himself found himself in.  Just as there was no way for him to break it off with either of the women in his life without hurting one of them, there was no way for the writing to not make him a pretty awful person if he were to go on deceiving both of them.  So it was an important corrective to have an episode like “Keaton” to give Max Greenfield an opportunity to really earn back the audience’s sympathy.  This episode also showed off New Girl’s propensity for seamlessly weaving in revealing backstory, as we learned that Schmidt’s communication with “Michael Keaton” began with his mom playing the part of the Batman actor and then Nick picking up the role in college.  The fakeness of the Keaton correspondence should have been hilariously obvious (Nick’s e-mail address for Mr. Mom was keatonpotatoes@aol.com), but Schmidt, like a lot of us, needs a hero to hold on to.  Ultimately, this episode was a story of both the filial and romantic love of New Girl, with Nick Miller suffering a crisis over deceiving his best friend while partnering with his girlfriend, with the two of them taking part in the deception because of their support for each other and their mutual concern for Schmidt.  It is one of those scary moments when your life is at a crossroads and you do not quite know how to do the right thing that New Girl pulls off so well.

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