This week, everyone grappled over Nick’s finances, and the relative goodness of Schmidt’s soul was up for discussion. Oh, and for all those people who were worried about Winston’s apparent descent into madness? Don’t worry, he’s back to being the most normal one in the loft (except he still believes in genies).
The question of the hour was whether or not Schmidt is a good person. Can you be an unapologetic douchebag and a good person at the same time? Does it even matter? Schmidt was all over the place geographically this week (loft, Rabbi’s office, street, Hebrew school classroom, hospital, loft), but internally he was pretty much stuck in the mud. He’s so desperate to recover his sullied integrity after abusing Cece and Elizabeth that he’s on a mission to convince everyone (but mostly just himself) that he’s a good person. It doesn’t really come of much, though – not emotionally, anyway. When Schmidt saves a cyclist’s life, he turns it into a selfish, narcissistic act by having a prancing little panic attack about what a hero he is. When he seeks counsel from a yarmulke-clad Jon Lovitz, he’s not really listening to anyone but himself. So his whole journey of self-examination is kind of bust. But there was a fun Benny Hill-style chase scene in a Bar Mitzvah class, Schmidt bobbing and weaving, Orthodox oafs lumbering, tzitzits flying, so that’s something. Also, more Jon Lovitz next time! Schmidt needs a recurring (and reluctant) spiritual guide, right? ‘Cause we all could use a little more Lovitz in our lives.
In the end, it’s with relief that gracefully sane Winston puts an end to Schmidt’s shallow suffering, reassuring him that just because he did a bad thing doesn’t mean he’s a bad person. Good. So Schmidt can continue on with business as usual, being his consistently douchey self, content in the knowledge that his frequent bad deeds don’t make him a bad person, hugging his $1900 candelabra for comfort. Why does “New Girl” want us to think Schmidt is a good person, or that he has the potential to be? He never has been; no need to start now. It reminds me of Andy Bernard’s descent into assholery on the final season of “The Office”. People were appalled at his selfish, brutal actions, and needed to be reminded that no one ever said Andy was a good guy. Just like Schmidt, Andy may have been likable at times – he may have been funny or charming or talented in his own ways – but he was never virtuous. And that’s not the point. Not every character on every show needs to be virtuous to be right.
Speaking of Schmidt, he’s no longer serving as an obstacle between Nick and Jess this week, but money is. When Nick gets an unexpected inheritance of questionable provenance, it’s an opportunity for us to discover a new tier in his multi-layer cake of emotional dysfunction, as well as a chance for Jess to flex her well-toned meddling muscles. First, Nick’s unexpected windfall turns him into a reckless big spender, then an emotionally-stunted coward, then a drunken philanthropist. Hasn’t it already been established that Nick is a failure when it comes to money – all those ratty hoodies and always late on the rent? Yes, but this time Jess realizes a new facet to Nick’s money problems that she didn’t see until now: He’s a financial coward who hides his obligations in a box under his dirty laundry.
But Jess is a fixer – she likes to solve the problems of the ones she loves – so she sets out to pay all his neglected bills and parking tickets. Why did she feel the need to back-pedal and apologize when Nick found out? I get that it’s not her job to be his mother or his forced financial planner. I get that she feels guilty because Nick trusted her not to intervene. I get that Nick hates being strong-armed into responsible adulthood. But isn’t that what friends are for – to help you when you can’t help yourself, even if you didn’t ask for it? And isn’t that what significant others are for – to help you be your best self, even if it’s not comfortable at first?
But it’s a river that flows both ways; as Nick admits that maybe Jess is right and having a bank account won’t kill him, Jess admits that maybe a little crazy is good sometimes. And more importantly, they both remember what it means to be good friends to each other. For Nick, being Jess’s friend means stepping up to the plate of sanity once in a while; for Jess, being Nick’s friend means getting a little nuts sometimes. Just like their positive and experimental sexual relationship, their friendship is give and take to a fault. As much as my own sanity of almost martial law proportions is irked by Jess giving in to Nick’s crazy, I have to admit it’s somehow right. It’s true friendship. And it’s true love. And this show can’t lose this couple yet. (We can’t let the haters win!)
What did you think of this week’s episode? Does being a good person matter? Have you ever received unexpected cash that you spent on the wrong size shoes? Are “night peanuts” the new “night cheese”?
Hannah McIlveen is a freelance graphic designer and TV-obsessed writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. She grew up riding horses and reading Roald Dahl books, got an art degree, and then spent the next several years moving around the country and watching television. Her greatest goals in life are to write good stuff, produce a web series, build a house with her husband, and have six cats at once. Hannah has contributed to BitchMagazine.org and is a staff blogger for the soon-to-launch TeenSized.com. She also writes her own daily blog, Click Watch Write. Hannah can be accosted on Twitter @ClickWatchWrite.