Due to time constraints, a quick intervention of sorts is arranged that predictably results in Schmidt rediscovering himself. He’s no rebel brother. He’s a fella who values designer slacks with pins that sew the pockets shut before they’re worn—”Calvin [Klein], you magnificent wizard. He’s also a guy who beams when as conciliation Nick offers up his room for a thorough, Schmidt-tastic cleaning treatment, to which Schmidt gasps, “The white whale!” My familiarity with the convention allowed me to accept the quickened pace of the resolution, but it cast a discerning light on how cliched the plot really was. Although the specific character beats produce their own distinct rhythms. And it’s all in the details. Nick aptly described Schmidt’s integral role in the loft’s arrangement by pleading, “I need you to tell me what pants not to wear. I need someone to make fun of me when I call a panini a hot sandwich.”
When you’re creating a makeshift family, ultimately the members embody the figures in the traditional form. The nurturer, the disciplinarian, the unifier, they’re all there. You may notice the lack of a fourth role, and that’s intentional. I know the fourth role exists, especially as it pertains to my own nuclear family, but in the construction of the “New Girl” family Winston’s role has yet to be defined. And week after week it gets under my skin as he exhibits more comedic potential or flat-out awesome delivery of the spare material he’s offered.
For example, you have Winston and Nick’s B-plot: a dance around debt. While Schmidt was off dancing the horizontal polka with Cece, the guys were playing poker. Due to a condition scientists would call “being hammered” Nick makes an ill-advised move to go all-in on a weak hand and ends up owing Winston $487. Not without pity, Winston settles for a even $200. But in telling fashion, Nick starts to haggle. He claims debts on gas money, drinks from the previous night and littering (when Winston throws his prepared speech on the ground) as subtractions from what he owes.
These subtle cues were masterful to me, because it showed precisely and efficiently how both characters handle financial squabbles between them. And the issue persists as Winston cashes in debts like a box turtle and the registration of the domain name ItsNickMillerTime.com. Nick then refutes by claiming Winston owes him for 400 cognac and colas that he had comped as bartender, and there’s the matter of an emotional debt; Winston saw Nick’s mom naked in 8th grade, before she “stopped exercising and got all chubby.” It culminates with a slapfight in the supermarket where Winston dubs Nick’s mom’s boobs “Best Boobs:Masters Division” and Nick mockingly calls Winston “Winnie.”
Petty stuff to be sure, but they’re just the sort of things that would get under a grown man’s skin and cause him to forego pride and slap another man in public. Slapstick at its finest. And it was as well-choreographed a slapfight as any I’ve ever seen. Then again, most of those were perpetrated on reality TV. There’s no resolution to this squabble, but I preferred that in this case. The conflict was so ridiculous in nature, that to but a bow on it would trivialize their enduring friendship. In other words, if they really did need to iron out a resolution, instead of sweeping their gripes and grievances under the rug, then their attachment to each other over the years is dubious to say the least.
All in all, I enjoyed this episode immensely. It’s a throwaway plot. Literally nothing of substance will carry over in the seasonal arc, though I question whether there is any, or if there are just reoccurring plots. Nonetheless, I wrote down more L.O.L.Ls this week than I ever have before. My two favorite episodes of the seasons before tonight (“Jess and Julia” and “Story of the 50,” another Schmidt-centric adventure) should be embarrassed. I wouldn’t exactly put it head and shoulders above either of those, but the line-for-line writing, impressed me. Going in, I wouldn’t have expected to say that “New Girl,” would be among one of the smartest comedies, but it is. It’s detail-oriented, pop-culture savvy (but not over indulgent in that respect), and just flat-out comprehensive. I don’t think even my other comedy review, “Parks and Recreation” would make a joke pertaining to the specificity of a character’s taste in coffee grinders. That blew me away. It wasn’t the funniest joke ever, but it was a damn well-researched and well-constructed joke. For entering an higher stratosphere of comedy, and for spotlighting Schmidt, while not over-saturating us with his eccentricities to the point where it overshadows the ensemble dynamic we’re (as an audience) now accustomed to, I’ll be lenient and not hunt down “New Girl” for the debt they owe me…for loaning them an A-.
L.O.L.Ls: Laugh Out Loud Lines
– “It’s like you’re ripping the side block out of my mental Jenga.”
– “I can get a tetanus shot, but I can’t cure damaged suede.”
– Drunk Nick playing poker: “I’ve never been more sober in my whole life. I’ll remember this as long as I live. I’m all-in. Uno, bitches.”
– Winston reads aloud his prepared speech, concerning their debt, to Nick (delivered deadpan): “But I want my money. GIve me my money. I really mean it, it’s my money. You owe me that money, so give me my money. Seriously, where’s my money. Dude.”
– “You’re aging ballerina-/child chess prodigy-/professional musician-crazy.”
– “I feel great. I’m gonna go take a shower using a bar of soap like a common ranch hand.”
– Jess on who Schmidt really is: “Do you remember when you got yourself off to “An Inconvenient Truth?”…Do you remember when you said jazz was America’s greatest mistake?”
– “You can run away from your problems, but you’re just gonna find new ones…like hepatitis.”
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