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New Girl Review: Schmidt’s Dating Mess

2 Oct

At the end New Girl’s second season Schmidt was asked to make a choice between Elizabeth and Cece and he ran away. He’s been doing this since we returned this year and his two timing has come to a head in “Double Date” as he told Nick what he had been doing and it all spiraled from there. This plot has been a bit of a drag as the conclusion was pretty inevitable – that Schmidt would end up with alone – and it’s been a bit of a slog getting here, putting Schmidt firmly in the douchebag category that has been joked about since the pilot.

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“In your little brain how do you see this ending?”

Schmidt’s response to Nick’s question is full of awareness, he knows that he’s gone too far and whatever the end result is, it’s going to be terrible and hurt all that are involved (including Nick who gets not one but two junk punches from Cece). So why the big delay? Schmidt blames it on everything from his upbringing to his former weight; the big surprise is who he blames for this resolution and that’s Nick and Jess. The threat he delivers at the end is enough to lose any good faith that he has earned from the audience as a result of his heartfelt confession to Cece and he’s already lost points because his hand was forced. So they’re going full douchebag with Schmidt and it probably isn’t his smartest idea to try and break up two of the three people he lives with. Delivering this threat with pie all over his face was wonderfully absurd and made the whole thing so ridiculous that you can almost forgive that Nick and Jess didn’t stand up to him over this BS.

There is no one to blame but Schmidt and it’s not like he has been two-timing women who he only met recently; Elizabeth is his first love and his feelings for Cece run deep. Hannah Simone nails the heartbreak of Cece as her eyes tear up and this quiet reaction is the opposite of what she has just done to Nick. Simone’s role within the group is often as the outsider as she is the only one of the regulars that doesn’t live in the loft and it will be interesting to see how they incorporate her now that she doesn’t want to see Schmidt ever again. The last time they had a period like this was between seasons 1 and 2 so that was all off screen.

Tonally this episode was all over the place and the breakup scene in the restaurant was pretty laugh free. Last week I discussed how New Girl excels at balancing the absurd moments with real emotions and while both of these factors were at play in “Double Date” it wasn’t as successful in switching between the two. Something felt off and Schmidt’s delaying tactics help turn him into the loft villain – as much as a villain as a sitcom can have – coupled with his Nick/Jess threat. This is probably just laying the groundwork for some Schmidt self-discovery, but at the moment it just reads as pointless bitterness.

One aspect that continues to play well is Nick and Jess as a couple from their country lawyer sex fantasies to the rather healthy bathroom discussion about how they feel about each other. It turns out that Nick’s driving style (because he totally needs glasses) is more likely to cause contention than their divided BFF loyalty. The funniest moment is as they list all the things that Schmidt might try and use to break them up including being sexually attracted to ladybugs, thinking the Kilborn Daily Show is better and being banned from Lake Ontario. It also turns out that they both think horses are from outer space (and I really want to see all the alt takes for this scene). Oh and Jess happens to know a lot of Spaceballs quotes that are perfect for no kissing sex.

Hanging by himself once again is Winston and this makes the third week where Winston’s story has been mostly solo. Hopefully this is building towards something and they definitely made a point of him realizing that he is the only one of the group who doesn’t have a significant other, unless you count Ferguson the cat. Now Schmidt is also in this position he might try and get Winston on his Jess/Nick breakup team especially if he dangles the prospect of pranks in front of Winston. Lamorne Morris excels at the crazier aspects of Winston so trying to keep hold of a community table for several hours allowed him to showcase this. Winston performed an important PSA too and you should always check that mints in restaurants are in fact mints and not a piece of glass.

This is of course still early in the season and events from the finale are still having a big impact on the narrative. So while it wasn’t the best episode of New Girl there has been it’s a necessary one to sort out the Schmidt/Cece/Elizabeth business. On the whole it made me laugh a bunch and Hannah Simone made me incredibly sad with her reaction to Schmidt’s cheating so it covered the emotional scale. So long Merritt Wever, you’re brilliant and I really hope you will come back on this show in the future.

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