I’m out of the loop; how much Schmidt/Nick slash fan-fic is out there already, and how much do I have to write?
We’ll get to the increasingly romantic, obvious love between Nick and Schmidt in a minute. First, of course, let’s have a moment of silence for the amazing Greta “Kai” Lee’s sudden departure and hope that it means she is bound for bigger and better roles. Her unceremonious breakup with Nick came out of nowhere, and it cost this episode its five stars. After all the time the show writers spent on Nick’s new relationship, now they go and have Kai give up on him that quickly? Even if her reasoning — that he's too ambitious — is pretty hilarious. Look, I don’t pretend to understand New Girl’s choices when it comes to overarching plot development. That is not now, has never been, and will never be its strength. So why dwell on that when “Swuit” so deftly showcases New Girl’s myriad strengths?
For one, this episode is mostly just Schmidt and Nick arguing. Schnick’s (their portmanteau, not mine) bantering is lyrical, Shakespearian genius. The further along the show gets, the stronger the writers’ grasp becomes on both what makes these characters different and what makes them best friends. I was giddy watching them working through their equal and opposite weaknesses with brilliantly dumb quips like, “Sometimes I feel like you’re my arms,” and, “You think I was born in the middle of the afternoon?”
The story of “Swuit,” in many ways, is the story of the American Dream. It shows that, no matter how dumb, any dream can come true. Even if that dream is to create a suit made out of sweatshirt material (the titular “swuit” — I’ve checked, by the way, and something similar does, unfortunately, exist), any nobody can earn their shot at the big time. For Schmidt and Nick, that means pitching the idea to Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner. Unfortunately, the swuit doesn’t go over too well with their roommates, so Schmidt and Nick decide to revisit Schnick Industries, an invention-generation company they once ran out of their college dorm room, where Nick, we learn, almost invented the iPhone.
Quick aside: Anyone want to help me pitch a spinoff series called Schmidt and Nick: The College Years? Even after New Girl ends, I never want to stop watching Max Greenfield and Jake Johnson play off each other. I desperately need to believe they hang out all the time in real life.
As is the case in many professional endeavors undertaken by friends, things quickly fall apart. Nick is unable to come up with ideas quickly enough (“I am just a man, I am not a god”), and the pitch meeting is on Friday. In order to save Nick from the “Think Harder Box,” Jess decides to intervene. She goes to each of them in secret and tells each of them of the other’s fictional “man problems.” This allows them to reconcile long enough to invent a camera specifically designed to help people take perfect pictures of their pets, but once Jess’s ruse is revealed, everything falls apart again.
In the end, though, the swuit reunites them, a practical and delightfully useless reminder that represents the best of what each of them has to offer. (This is also where Jess delivers my dark-horse candidate for funniest line of the episode: “Don’t settle for substitutes, Swettle for Swubstiswuits!”)
The swuit may not have made them millionaires (although it did earn them $10,000 in a cease-and-desist case), but the important thing here is that we learned that not only are Nick and Schmidt Tinfinite best friends with questionable sexualities, but they also like to lie in bed together each night talking about their days. They are polar opposites who understand each other on a molecular level. They have lived together for decades.
I know, I know — Nick and Schmidt aren’t going to declare their romantic love for each other anytime soon. I know, they’re just best friends, and yes, I know, in the minds of fangirls, no best friendship can be conflated into coupledom. But they are also the healthiest long-term relationship either of them has ever had. And New Girl is already one of the most diverse, accepting shows on television. Is it so crazy to expect that at some point it might feature a prominent same-sex couple?
You don’t have to answer now. Just think about it.
Meanwhile, we get a “classic Winston/Coach mess-around,” and some even-more-classic unconditional New Girl friendship, when Cece starts having trouble paying her college tuition. Since she can’t tell Jess (who would literally sell her hair to help Cece pay for a trip to see her grandmother) she confides in Coach and Winston, who agree to give her the money “as an investment.”
Investing in someone else’s education in the hopes that they will someday be able to repay the favor ... man, it sure would be disappointing if that education were in, say, art history or Afrikaans or — oh, Cece is taking completely useless classes. And, like all parents of liberal-arts students, Winston and Coach become concerned that their investment may not make returns after all. They try to pressure Cece to consider a more practical major, but, again, like the parents of liberal-arts students, they quickly realize that they’d rather see her happy than rich. The wisdom they impart on her deserves to be stitched onto throw pillows all over the world: “Whatever drawings you talk about, always shoot for the stars.”
All of this frothy goodness is capped off by a “Taking Care of Business” sing-along to help heal Nick’s newly broken heart.
It’s been a miserable week, weather-wise, in New York City, and “Swuit” was a much-needed ray of California sunshine that made me want to gather up some of my currently hibernating friends for a charming misadventure. Like so much of season four, this episode was a demonstration of all the skills New Girl has been honing over the years. Dare I say we're entering a second golden age?