Yes, Joey Ramona Quimby is an excellent Halloween costume idea, and yes, having Winston think that he looks like David Letterman is exactly the touch of light, playful insanity that has really made his character pop this season.
But guys: we need to talk about Schmidt.
New Girl has come a long, long way from being that sorta-fun, sorta-annoying show about the girl from Elf. Over the past year, it's developed in leaps and bounds, and in New Girl Season 2, the show established itself as finely-tuned and totally essential TV comedy.
New Girl Season 3 seems to be focused on taking dramatic steps to make sure that the show doesn't rest on its laurels; it is pushing in many directions at once, seemingly doing anything to grow, whether that means finally developing Winston's personality, giving Nick and Jess a surprisingly healthy chemistry (which flies in the face of everything said about the possibility of their having a relationship over the first two season, but whatever), or totally breaking Schmidt.
Intellectually, at least, I applaud this boundary-pushing. There is something to be said for a popular network comedy refusing to get comfortable, to never embrace the steady groove of crowd-pleasing material that will result in its eventual slow decline.
But those laurels the show is determined not to rest on...they were good laurels. New Girl Season 2, especially the second half of the season, was modern sitcom writing at its whip-smart finest. And while twisting and torturing Schmidt until he turns into an unlikeable dick (or reveals himself to have been one the entire time, perhaps) is an artistically exciting move... I am not sure that I like watching it.
Schmidt has been the comedic backbone of this show from day one, nailing the majority of the laughs in that underwhelming first season. Though changes and revisions to the Loft dynamic are necessary following Nick and Jess pairing up, the Dickening of Schmidt just leaves a bad taste in my mouth (pardon any unintentional puns here, folks). I'm not even asking whether it's necessary, I'm just not sure it works. The highest good in a show like this is the joke, and I'm just not sure that miserable Schmidt is very funny. Which is a damned shame.
Which is not to say that this episode wasn't funny (very funny, in fact), or that I won't wake up at 4 a.m. tonight, softly chuckling to myself about "Keatonpotatoes@aol.com" (because I definitely will). But this episode - this new Schmidt character arc, overall - begs the question: Is taking a character to the dark side always better? Is this show enriched by having Schmidt seemingly lose everything that tied him to this earth? Is darker deeper, somehow? It's a valid question in our anti-hero-happy era, and not one that I necessarily have an answer for.
Having Schmidt turn his back on everyone and everything he's had in the first two seasons is an unexpected choice, a creatively engaging choice...but is it all that funny?
Is Schmidt really leaving? Will the Loftafarians ever be able to make up? Does Winston actually kind of look like Letterman, a tiny bit? Like kind of around his mouth area a little? No, just me?
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