New Girl "Neighbors" Review: Kids These Days

New Girl S02E04: “Neighbors”

At first glance, “Neighbors” appeared to be the tale of the hipsters next door. That would have been a fine-enough set-up on its own, but then New Girl decided that I had nothing better to do on a Tuesday night than contemplate what Family Matters and Full House mean in terms of my mortality and whether or not I’m allowed to claim adult status. I’m guilty of occasionally pairing scarves with T-shirts, but polygamy doesn’t do much for me. I do my own laundry, but I don’t own a bed frame. Getting old is complicated and, physical age aside, it's largely a mindset, according to “Neighbors.” That’s good news for most of us... unless, like Schmidt, you try entirely too hard to indulge in youth culture despite having no real interest in it outside of being able to assuage your fears of aging.

Like what you like. I’m one of those really annoying twenty-somethings who insists that the Backstreet Boys are vastly superior to The Wanted. I have thirty-something cousins who claim that New Kids on the Block are better. However, we all agree that “Glad You Came” is a pretty sweet song even if kids today have terrible taste overall. There’s a perk to getting older: You get to have better taste than everyone else. That applies to cologne, too. Nick’s love of Old Spice could be linked to the grumpy old man persona he’s apparently been displaying since before he hit puberty, but his claim that “it’s coming back!” is actually true. (And awesome, because Old Spice smells like... well... awesomeness.)

Nick referred to the young'uns across the hall as “pan-ethnic and pansexual” as though those were the defining traits of their generation, and perhaps, for now, they are. Schmidt was horrified to learn that their disdain for him as an individual excluded him from indulging in what he probably imagined to be some sort of 24/7 orgy.  He feared that the new neighbors hated him because he was “old,” but really they couldn’t stand him because he tried too hard. He was an “asshead.” His steady job and professional wardrobe repelled the new neighbors because Schmidt forced his importance upon them. The neighbors hadn't yet reached a place in their lives where great jobs impressed them.  They defined themselves by other things, because to them, a job is just a job, a tool for survival, a means to an end with the “end” being “making rent.”

Jess’s ability to click with the new neighbors came, certainly, due to her own ability to just be a nice human being, but her new place in life certainly helped. She’s found a job to replace her teaching position, but it’s at the Casserole Shanty, complete with ugly uniform, minimum wage, and no benefits. When Jess was a teacher, her job was a cornerstone of her identity. While it was awful to lose that job and all of the physical perks that came with it—steady pay, dental insurance, no uniform—it was the loss of an essential part of her identity that shook Jess’s foundation that hardest. However, enjoying your job and taking pride in your position isn’t a generational trait. Jess didn’t love being a teacher because she's an adult. She loved being a teacher because she loved being a teacher. Whenever she introduced herself, it was usually one of the first things she said after her name. That pride was missing from her new gig at the Casserole Shanty and left Jess missing parts of her identity. It put her in an ideal position to bond with other individuals who, quite frankly, haven’t yet formed their own identities. Oh, they might think that they have. When I was 23 I was absolutely certain that I had found the hat that fit, and you know what? It was complete and utter fantasy. Identity is influenced by so many factors that it becomes pan-generational in a sense. Another perk to getting older: You realize that.

Unless you’re Schmidt, of course. He tried. He tried so hard, and that was the problem. He thinks of himself as young and that’s fine. He is young. However, he values things that the particular group of individuals he tried to mingle with just don't care about, and he lacks the understanding and awareness needed to bridge those differences.

Jess’s relationship with the new neighbors grew organically thanks to a shared identity: one that was rooted in aimlessness. They were in the same place in their lives despite being different ages. Jess was drawn to them because, at this low point of her professional life, she connected with the “kids” more than she connected with her gainfully employed roommates—particularly Schmidt, who insisted on giving her a hard time about her fast food job. Jess is still trying to fill the hole in her identity where “teacher” used to be, and even her lie about the Steve Urkel catchphrase was symptomatic of that. The new neighbors, being too young to remember Family Matters (though I question that and assume that their ignorance wasn’t about being too young, it was about having terrible taste in TV as children) didn’t realize that Jess’s “Did I do that?” wasn’t her own creation. This allowed Jess to try on yet another identity, that of the hip, quirky, funnygirl Jess who was full of hilarious sayings.

In the end, Jess came clean about her plagiarism of Urkel’s catchphrase because she determined that the hipster identity didn’t really complete her. It’s not the fault of the younger generation that they missed out on certain pop-culture events that are iconic to those who came before and it’s not even their fault that it’s totally pathetic that the 23-year-old living on his own still needs his mom to do his laundry for him, but relationships just tend to do better when they aren’t built on an identity crisis. To the younger crowd’s credit, I liked that they wanted to be friends with Jess anyway... even if Nick totally ruined it with his old man routine.

And speaking of Nick, his prank spree was glorious. I actually can’t wait to see what he has in store for Jess.



Notes


– One-liner of the night: “Man, I want to care about something as much as you care about ruining Schmidt’s life.” —Winston

– Jess has decided to look for a tutoring job! Yay!

– Raise your hand if “Neighbors” made you feel old even though we just discussed the fact that “old” is relative. It’s okay, me too.

New Girl "Neighbors" Photos


What'd you think of this week's episode?

Comments (35)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
I am not going to complain about this review at all!
Reply
Flag
Interesting way to write the review and I really enjoyed reading! I come from the same era and can relate to getting older, identity issues, etc.... This series is simply amazing in how it can make me think about my own life in relation to whats happening. I certainly look forward to more episodes!
Reply
Flag
I've noticed MaryAnn uses the word "I" and references to herself and her personal experiences a lot in her reviews.



I'm having trouble getting used to it. Feels a little more like reading a blog post than a review. Not that theres anything wrong with blog posts.
Reply
Flag
I love this show right now. Perhaps this is just me, but it seems to me the writers have done something not many other comedies manage to do - find different forms of comedy for each character. I like How I Met Your Mother, but that's one of those comedies that tends to be very 'Okay, we'll give this guy the punchline' or 'Let's have Lily say something funny', which is fine, but comedies like New Girl where the characters respond in a way that actually makes sense FOR that character, and is still hilarious, because the actors themselves are also pretty damn great...I don't know, it reminds me of Community. Not the way they tell the stories, but the way the write the comedy. Everyone has their own brand of comedy, and they're all hilarious.
Reply
Flag
It's so refreshing to watch an actually FUNNY sitcom .. too many sitcoms try to be too clever and miss the whole point. Good episode!
Reply
Flag
Add your comment...Delightful episode and I'm glad I read this review. I was too obsessed with the Nick pranking Schmidt storyline to actually put any real thought into what the hipsters represent on a deeper philosophical level. Of course I understood the relationship that Jess shared with them and the reason why they formed an instant bond. However, perhaps it is because of my own dealings with hipsters that I could not become as immersed in that story and instead embraced Nick and cheered when it was revealed that he had come in under Budget by only spending $1,200 - $1,300. So I thank you MaryAnn for really digging into the depth of the storyline that bothered me and illuminating its importance for the future of the show!



Reply
Flag
NO best line of the night! "Im gonna hit your ass with a ski! ...Get some!"
Reply
Flag
Easily best line of the night... I think that might be my halloween costume... Just walking around with a ski threatening to hit people in the throat
Reply
Flag
Im thinking they just had terrible tv taste.... im 23 and i Loved Family Matters and Full House!



"You got any cheese?"



"You got it dude!"
Reply
Flag
I feel like I just read a philosophy essay.

This was a pretty fun episode. The hipster young'ns were a bit off-putting and since I've yet to actually meet such hipstery folk in real life, I always tend to think it's over-exaggerated. But I don't live in LA or San Diego or Portland or wherever hipsters populate most, so I don't totally disbelieve them either.

I'm in that middle area where I'm slightly older than the "kids" and slightly younger than the main gang. I think I'm most like Nick at the moment... a grouchy bum.
Reply
Flag
I am so glad that Winston is continuing to get some funny moments. I cracked up at the whole too small/too big issue with his pranking. Giggling now just thinking about the shoe dust next to Schmidt's car...
Reply
Flag
All in all i didn't quite like this episode. But that may be just because there is only one hipster sitcom episode out there (Happy Endings zombie hipster) and my brain hasn't the room for another. I tudor for a living and can absolutely relate to the feeling of getting older quite well. Just today a student told me that they watched a movie in philosophy class called "The Matrix" and whether or not i have heard of it". I responded appropriately with my head exploding.
Reply
Flag
That "The Matrix" movie .. people say it's pretty good.
Reply
Flag
You mean you tutor? ;)
Reply
Flag
Sure. Sorry for the confusion. I do not and never have acted like british royalty for a living. Spelling accident. English isn't my first language and it was pretty late. Sorry.
Reply
Flag
I'm so upset, I thought I could act like ancient British royalty for a living and was like "I've finally found my hat!"

Reply
Flag
Well maybe you can. I am sure there is a market for that :)
Flag
I find it funnier to think it wasn't a spelling mistake but rather that (s)he actually acts like old English royalty for a living.
Reply
Flag
Woke up at 1am with the answer - The chubby hipster is the son from Hung!
Reply
Flag
Ugh, hipsters are just the worst.
Reply
Flag
Mary, I hope you read this....you need to go back and tell them the truth: that no boy band is better than another because they all suck. The end.



On the subject of the episode itself, it was obvious the writer had never had any contact with a twentysomething in the last 15 years. "They're, uh, all hipsters, right? I'm too lazy to check on that....."
Reply
Flag
Little kid Nick was hilarious! "Keep this crap out of my yard! And turn that nonsense down!" I don't know when it happened, but I think Nick has become my favorite character not named Jess.

Also, I'm still a "young" 20-something, and I've been familiar with Urkel for many years. I happen to have a cursory knowledge of all the tacky 80's and 90's sitcoms. But I hate purposefully frayed scarves and skinny jeans for guys. Fedora's too. And irony for the sake of irony.

Hipsters are the worst.
Reply
Flag
I don't know.. Maybe it's more of an American thing or something. I'm 23 and while I am not particularly familiar with Urkel (I did watch Full House though, but can barely remember any), but I haven't been in a situation where knowing something that's old is something shameful or 'lame'. It can be only positive to KNOW something. Perhaps it's just who are the people you hang out with. I understand that this is hyper-reality that's portrayed on the show, but still...

And as long as I'm ranting here, I don't quite understand the high-school portrayed on most American TV. It can't really be like that, can it?
Reply
Flag
Is high school Glee? No. But in general, high school is hell on earth unless you are blessed with athletic ability and good looks, depending on where you live and what school you attend.

Reply
Flag
i didn't own a bed frame until I was 30, and I'm still not sure I see the point of one.

Also, all boy bands suck all the way back to the Beach Boys (and so did Family Matters).
Reply
Flag
Bedframe uses:

Youngster - creates Narnia-like space under bed to shovel your stuff into, rendering actual cleaning unnecessary.

Elderly - raises bed higher preventing your decrepit body from getting stuck near the floor.

Pick one.
Reply
Flag
What about the 50 years in between? Coz so far, all I've got is that not owning furniture is one of those red flags that makes girls not want to sleep with you
Reply
Flag
I'm surprised you've gotten girls inside your house. Kudos.
Reply
Flag
I'm wounded (I'm not really wounded).
Flag
Nicks pranks on Schmidt was definitely the best part of the episode. I also laughed when the neighbors thought Family Matters was a low budget web series.
Reply
Flag
For some reason, I found young Nick yelling at the neighbor kids hysterically funny. I totally got what was going on in the episode (as I am five years older than the characters, so technically my TV peers are on Happy Endings, sometimes even their references escape me) but yes that younger twenty something. Well, that is baffling to me.
Reply
Flag
I like that he still has the Frisbee and uses it as a plate for nuts in his room. If on some occassion we see inside his room and that frisbee is there with nuts I will be extremely happy
Reply
Flag
Yes! Funniest part of the episode. Even his wardrobe was spot on.
Reply
Flag
I loved Schmidt's pep talk with Jess.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook