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'New Girl' season 2, episode 4 recap: 'Neighbors'

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New Girl React
Greg Gayne/Fox

This episode was all over place, amirite Newbies? The connection between judgmental hipster douchemonkeys and Nick’s undying devotion to pranking was a bit of a stretch. More to the point, I did not care for the pervasive, insidious undercurrent of anti-Schmidtism. It would have been one thing if Nick’s virtuoso pranking were merely a throughline, but — coupled with the judgments of the hipster neighbors — last night’s episode was almost sad. It’s a credit to Max Greenfield for finding a way to infuse heart into one of the most absurd, caricature-ish personalities on TV. All of which is to say, Schmidt’s my boy, and I will protect him and his douchebag jar until my last breath. As long as he stops wearing skinny jeans.

It all began around the time Jess’s underemployment was wearing thin on the guys. Turns out, working at the Casserole Shanty wasn’t a very fulfilling job, so she was biding her time by watching TGIF marathons and working on her Urkel impression. (Nick: “Not in my darkest moments did I do Urkel.”) Amid this soul searching, the new neighbors — zygotes with irritatingly twee names like Chaz, Fife, Sutton, and Brory (the kind of names Liz Lemon would deem “hipster nonsense”) — came a-knockin’ to introduce themselves and tell the roommates they were hosting a get-together that might get “kind of wild.”

Jess and Schmidt mistook this warning for an invite and proceeded to crash the party. Lo and behold, Jess found a kinship with the little buggers — not least of which because they were so young that when Jess knocked over a bowl of popcorn and nasaled “Did I doooo thaaaat?” they didn’t realize the impression wasn’t a feat of meta-ironic genius (or whatever it is that hipsters get off on these days) but an outdated Urkel shout-out.

When Jess and Schmidt returned home the next morning, it turned out “those kids with the found furniture and no TV” (as Winston called them) had been smitten by another one of Jess’s patented catchphrase (“How ruuude!”) Unfortunately, they were not smitten with Schmidt (Schmidt-en?). A fact that was obvious to everyone but the douchebag himself, whose pendulum permanently swings between spoiling 26-year-old films (“Anthony Eds” dies in Top Gun, y’all) and being a corporate sell-out (God forgive him for giving in to the man by getting health insurance and paid vacation days!).

Winston was ready to jump in to defend Schmidt, though his eagerness was really just a clumsy segue to the ep’s other theme. Long story short, Winston thought he was the king of pranks, but Nick was really the Prank Sinatra of the group. If for no other reason than his sheer commitment. To wit, he had shaved 1/8th of an inch off one of the heels of every pair of shoes Schmidt owned. This was not only the pranking sweet spot, but also the old-fogey sweet spot, as it made Schmidt’s hip ache. While Winston struggled to find a prank that wasn’t too small (sprinkling shoe-shaving dust near Schmidt’s car) or too big (physical disfigurement), Nick filled a jug with pee to pour on Schmidt’s bed to make him think he was incontinent. Nick’s justification: “Sometimes, up close, art is ugly.”

NEXT: The pranks get more elaborate