If you ever needed even more concrete evidence that hipsters make everything so much worse, you needn’t look any further than last night’s episode of New Girl. Granted, the show is technically about a hipster with frustrating bangs, adorable vintage dresses, and an affinity for ’80s sitcoms, but at least she is a self-aware adult hipster. And a self-aware adult hipster that surrounds herself with non-hipster friends and enjoys said sitcoms with no irony, no less. Jess and the gang’s terrible new hipster neighbors in last night’s aptly titled episode “Neighbors,” on the other hand, were just that: terrible.
Jess, much to the horror of her roommates — and myself — was still in a rut. Not only was she spending her days glued to the television (though as Nick accurately pointed out, “It is perfectly fine to watch TV all day”) to work on her terrible Urkel and Frasier imitations, but she was spending other portions of her day working at a lowly fast food casserole joint. I say I found this whole thing horrific, not because I have a snobby attitude towards Jess’ latest unemployment misadventure and her visor like Schmidt does, but because aside from the major ground rules conversation she had with Nick last week, Jess’ storyline has proved to be a bit of a dud. In getting fired, all we’ve discovered about Jess is that she sometimes enjoys NSA nookie (something we already knew all the way back when she tried to, understandably, get it on with Ryan Kwanten), she desperately needs a hobby (though painting her roommates like she did last week was infinitely funnier than her sitcom catchphrases), and she adores being a teacher.
It’s that very rut, both from Jess and the typically on-point New Girl writers that leads to the introduction of the terrible hipster neighbors Fife, Sutton, Brory, and Chazz. Even their names were self-righteous and annoying. While Jess naturally fit in effortlessly with a crowd that spends their nights hula hooping, playing the sitar, and “finding themselves,” Schmidt had a little more trouble, naturally. And herein lied the biggest problem of this story arc: Why in the hell would Schmidt care what a bunch of youths thought? Especially those who wouldn’t even know what a fine cravat or chutney was even if it hit them in their horn-rimmed glasses. I certainly believe that Schmidt would be upset about someone seeing him as old, but Jewish Peter Pan would never doubt his coolness around a group like that. He’s crushing it. They are not. In fact, they should all donate to the Douchebag Jar and Schmidt should go buy some new Jodeci records with the funds.
Schmidt should have just done what Winston and Nick wisely did upon meeting Fife, Sutton, Brory, and Chazz: promptly turn around and leave. Which was good, really, because that opened the door for Nick to set up a series a pranks on Schmidt that would have made Jim Halpert proud. From making the left heel in each of Schmidt’s shoes 1/8th of an inch shorter to making him think he’s losing his hearing to ordering blurry contact lenses, Nick finally focused his money and energy on, well something wasteful (the perpetually broke turtle-faced wonder spent upwards of $1,300 on these shenanigans) and stupid, but it was still hilarious and the episode’s one true saving grace.
In fact, I’m going to go ahead and once again say Jake Johnson as Nick has been the MVP thus far of Season 2. Not only has he shown the most emotional depth and range over the past three episodes, but he’s earned the biggest laughs. Case in point: Nick’s mercilessly funny cranky old man faces and the recurring gag that he is, most certainly, a cranky old man. The biggest laughs in “Neighbors” came not from Schmidt (though he had a few gems) but during a flashback of young Nick yelling about his annoyances and current Nick being referred to by Winston as “Gran Torino.”
That’s right, I said it, even Winston earned a laugh last night. Two actually, when he zinged the terrible hipster neighbors for having “found furniture and no TV because it’s cool.” Winston, who because of Schmidt’s life expectancy graph wondered if “he may have died four years ago” (that would explain a lot about the character), somehow made an ineloquent speech at work and was, for some inane reason, given a producing job for a very early morning sports radio program for said speech. So, that’s what happened with Winston. Oh, also, he’s bad at pranks. Propelled by Winston’s new job, Schmidt’s push for her to get back in the game, and the sight of what it looks like to be a terrible loft-dwelling hipster, Jess got the wheels in motion and took on a tutoring job. Here’s to hoping that by next week we get our old Jess, and our old New Girl, back.
Still, even in the most mediocre of New Girl episodes like this one, there’s still some great, DVR rewind-worthy moments and lines. And here they are:
— “Not even in my darkest moments did I do Urkel.” —Nick, after watching Jess’ descent into Family Matters-fueled madness
— Nick and Winston’s slap fight. Also, Schmidt and Nick’s verbal fight about the use of Old Spice. (I’m with Schmidt on this one, it’s old and not even a spice.)
— Schmidt’s name for Top Gun star Anthony Edwards: Anthony Eds
— Nick’s idea of being very rich: “Fill my gas tank all the way up rich.”
— Nick, guessing what youths do: “Taking your drug pills and smoking your hash stick?”
— Jess, uttering the most hipster thing she’s ever said: “I’m gonna sleep off an ass-ton of quinoa.”
— Schmidt asking “Who wants to start an Arcade Fire?”
— Nick’s sound advice to the terrible hipster neighbors as he shuffled by in a robe: “Don’t trust your government, kids.”
— The continually amazing rapport between Johnson’s lovable curmudgeon Nick and Zooey Deschanel‘s polarizing quirkstress Jess. Yes, yes, I know they aren’t getting together anytime soon. But whenever these two characters discuss why being in your 30s is both wonderful and miserable and flirt with each other in spite of themselves (“There are no pranking movies” … “Yet”), it’s TV magic hipsters are going to wish they owned a TV for.
But what did you think, fellow New Girl fans? Was “Neighbors” as disappointing as I thought or am I just crankier than Nick around a noisy ice cream truck? Do you agree it’s time for Jess to get back to work? If only for the sake of the show? Will Winston’s promotion finally give him (and poor, talented Lamorne Morris, for that matter) something to work with, or will it occasionally crop up, like his girlfriend? Do you also think that Jake Johnson has potential to be to Season 2 what Max Greenfield was to Season 1? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
[Photo credit: Fox]