TV Review: New Girl “Neighbors”

jason stives dislikes his neighbors…

True confession: this week’s installment of New Girl, titled “Neighbors,” really bothered and annoyed me. If you aren’t a fan of the show this isn’t shocking but then again if you are reading this and don’t like the show you are just plain confusing. This week New Girl went for the gusto in tackling obvious stereotypes and the unflappable issues of getting older and trying to stay young, something that’s philosophically deep but is taken aback by having a plethora of bland support characters. Okay, another confession, part of the issue that ran with this week’s episode comes from the feeling of being out of place which at 24 years of age I’m already feeling but then the other reason this feels so awkward comes from watching characters try to be relevant and hip for the sake of it.

I’m getting ahead of myself, again. So Jess has a job working at a place called the Casserole Shanty, and despite a source of income this isn’t good enough for some members of the loft. No, strike that, it’s not good enough for Schmidt, clearly crushing it at his job but still finding the Schmidt safe zone of hip and fashionable. Both of these issues are lumped together by the arrival of the new neighbors: four hipsters with names like Chaz, Fife, Sutton, and Brory that don’t possess bed frames, are too lazy to understand dish washers, and have aspirations to move to Prague. Jess instantly finds salvation in their lives by winning them over with casseroles and a Steve Urkle impression that these guys have apparently never heard of. Schmidt, on the other hand is back in his trying to hard mode spatting trendy phrases that were probably relevant 7 years ago but are still prominent in Schmidt World. It’s a basic set up at best but Schmidt’s need to try too hard really makes the episode lose its value especially since this is clearly about Jess getting back into the game of life. Couple this with a mundane plot of Nick spending hours pranking Schmidt and Winston coming up with really bad pranks and you get a whole lot of nothing going on from the main four.

The motivation to spar with these hip, young hopefuls comes from both Jess’ sudden lack of confidence about life (which is really just a moment of error) and Schmidt’s inability to connect with every kind of person. The results are very cringe worthy with Schmidt taking the cake performing impromptu burpies and referencing the Arcade Fire in a miraculously terrible party phrase. All the while this felt a bit like the episode was just meandering through a plotline that was just there for the lesson learned on Jess end and by episodes end I just didn’t want to see the neighbors of the plot anymore nor hear Schmidt drop abbreviated terms like Anthony Eds.

As cringe worthy as Jess and Schmidt’s actions were the neighbors themselves were a cookie cutter plot mover whose sole purpose was to wake Jess out of her unemployed slumber, although in this economy, the likelihood of her picking up any jobs that quick save for a tutoring job would probably unlikely. The trouble with the neighbors is that their hipster garb and failure to launch attitude is very over the top and (from what I know about hipsters) not as accurate. Seriously, I find it very hard to believe that any 20 something would be unfamiliar with Family Matters or the concept of a live studio audience sitcom considering they would have seen a multitude of reruns of said show and its TGIF counterparts in spades growing up. The push to make them a stereotype character was done for obvious reasons but it was remarkably frustrating to watch as if I was suddenly out of touch with the same people of my generation. The best case scenario is that we never hear from them again with their pansexual, quinoa cooking, part time working to focus on Art career personas.

Four episodes in New Girl is wrapping up an obvious plot point quick with Jess returning to the job circuit, or at least searching for one, but what of the other characters? While Winston found a new sense of hope in a trucker time early morning sports radio show, Nick is still an immovable object of motivation despite his passion for pranking Schmidt this week. Even if he put a lot of work into it (1200 dollars worth from what we are told) he is still a standing in place kind of individual. The hallmarks of Nick right now have been his interactions with Jess and Zooey D and Jake Johnson really make their moments on screen together work well. The last few minutes where Nick set up the potential of pranking Jess down the line was amusing but like most of this week’s ideas it probably won’t resurface. Schmidt is also still searching for his identity even though he is clearly the better off of the four loft mate’s career wise.

Unlike the three previous episodes it was nice to see Schmidt out of his comfort zone and realizing some of his flaws without the assistance of someone like CeCe. There was always the potential that their breakup would eclipse every move Schmidt makes but it was nice to see him learn his faults on his own even if he truly didn’t learn a thing from it. This was more about Jess than anything and sadly the separate plotlines felt misplaced when the bulk of the episode focused on Jess and Schmidt and the new neighbors. That’s why it’s almost fitting that Nick and Winston bowed out of hanging with them early on but the best New Girl moments include all four main characters and this week lacked any real cohesiveness on that end. “Neighbors” probably wouldn’t have felt as awkward to me if I didn’t feel like I was already being pushed out of the relevance point in my life but it also would’ve benefited a little more by not being so paint by numbers in its setup and execution.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10 (Mildly Disappointing)

 

All Photos Credit: FOX