‘New Girl’ Signs Damon Wayans Jr. for the Rest of Season 3, But Can He Save the Show?

Damon Wayans Jr., New GirlFOX

So long Brad, and hello Coach. It’s official: Happy Endings alum Damon Wayans Jr. has signed on for the rest of Season 3 of New Girl, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Wayans, who recently finished a three-season run as Brad on Happy Endings, is set to extend his initial six-episode arc as Coach on New Girl, the character he played in the show’s pilot in 2011. While he is just considered a special guest star, there is always chance that he’ll become a series regular if we get a Season 4. So for now, it looks like the gang just got a little bit bigger. But is that a good thing?

If Coach’s influence on Nick, Jess, Schmidt, and Winston during this week’s episode, which is aptly titled “Coach,” is a sign of what’s to come, then things aren’t looking good. Coach came back into town with a mission to bro-up the place, and he definitely did just that by taking the guys out to a strip club and labeling Jess as a nag. The upside is that by the end of the episode, the guys stood up to his partying ways and seemed to draw a line of what they’re willing to do now that they’re “growing up.” So with Coach put in place (for now), we’re interested to see what kind of effect he’ll have on the loft friends as the season progresses. 

Here’s how Coach could shape the New Girl regulars:

So far, Coach has done nothing but make fun of Jess. If he’s going to make fun of her, at least make the target her quirkiness. Instead of having Coach latch onto Jess’ “limitations” on Nick because she’s his girlfriend and making her out to be the villain, the writers might take his return as a chance to bring back Jess’ adorkable ways that have been blatantly missing from this season. What might work would be having an episode with a plot line just for Jess and Coach so that the audience can see them bond and make a real connection that we can believe in. We already know that he has a past with the other three characters, now we need a friendship to form between him and Jess. And in the process, hopefully he can draw out some of her quirkiness.

Please, please, please don’t let Coach turn Nick into a misogynist pig. Nick has enough bad personality traits as it is, but being a willful jerk is not one of them. If he’s going to be a dud, we’d rather his stupidity come from his own inability to function as an adult than from the influence of Coach. Maybe Coach can somehow bring back curmudgeonly Nick and help him move on from being an adolescent boy who can’t figure out life. The good news is that Nick flat-out told Coach that he can’t handle Coach’s strip-club lifestyle, so maybe that means he won’t be mesmerized by Coach’s douche tendencies (we’ve already got Schmidt for that).

Honestly, Coach didn’t really change Schmidt’s personality too much during the episode, but that might not be a good thing. It’s no surprise that Schmidt has been a serious d-bag this season, and it’s time to finally kick jerk-Schmidt to curb and bring back the original neurotic character. In the early days of New Girl, Schmidt was threatened by Winston’s manly presence (which is no longer existent), so this could be Coach’s chance to put Schmidt in his place and show him that he’s not as cool as he thinks he is. I think we’d all love to see Schmidt experience a whole lot of tough love.

Coach spent this week’s episode making fun of Winston, but that’s no fun to watch. Winston’s new outlook on life and weird quirks are kind of endearing, and Coach shouldn’t threaten that. Winston shouldn’t be the punching bag of the season, mostly because he’s way too easy of a target. If Coach is going to hassle anyone, we hope it’s Schmidt, who actually needs a good kick in the pants. Instead, pairing Coach and Winston together in a situation where they actually get along could be great for the show. Once they see themselves as equals (yes, that means making Winston a little bit less koo-koo), then maybe we can actually get somewhere with their relationship. Also, Winston better not be pushed even more to the side. The writers have successfully moved him to the outskirts of the show and give him a bizarre plotline per episode that never reveals anything about his character besides the fact that he might have marbles for brains. He’s an underutilized character, and the return of Coach should be an excuse to flesh out Winston’s character, not hide it in the corner.

But in the end, Coach shouldn’t be the writer’s solution to the show’s problems. They can’t rely on an additional character to make things like the good ol’ days of New Girl. It’s just like what people say about failing marriages: adding a child to the mix won’t fix the issues you already have. Adding Coach to the marriage that is Nick, Jess, Schmidt, and Winston will just hurt their relationships unless the writers find an organic way to blend him back into the group. We want Wayans to stay on the series for as long as he possibly can (because he’s a great comedic actor), but not if his role is going to hurt the show.