Schmidt from New Girl Has a Book Out. Should You Read It?

Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 9 2012 5:28 PM

The Douche Journals

schmidt1
Max Greenfield on New Girl(FOX)

The publication of The Douche Journals: The Definitive Account of One Man’s Genius is as good an indication as any that New Girl (Fox, Tuesdays at 9 p.m.) has only one star: Max Greenfield’s Schmidt, its purported author.

The book’s premise is that it is a collection of the outrageous utterances that caused Schmidt to drop bucks into the apartment’s “Douchebag Jar” between 2005 and 2010. That means Nick Miller is the only other current resident of 310 Traction Blvd. who was present during that period, hence the absence of other New Girl characters. (Jess “arrived” in 2011, when the show began, and Winston replaced Coach shortly after the pilot, I mean, shortly after she moved in.) But even without that restriction, the others are too wishy-washy and vague to sustain a high concept. They have quirks—Jess is a woman-child trying earnestly to figure out adulthood; Nick is a turtle-mouthed underachiever; and, well, OK, the writers quite haven’t figured Winston out yet—but Schmidt is a fully formed personality.

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Many of the book’s 203 infractions of good taste and decency are funny, but that’s only because the reader hears them in Schmidt’s inimitable intonation—a mixture of earnestness, outrage, and mind-blowing self-confidence. Take, for instance, Infraction No. 49: “You owe it to yourself—and to the restaurant—to send back any fruit salad that’s over 30% melon.” That’s amusing enough—though as a legitimate lover of honeydew, I find the sentiment questionable—but below the quotation is a pie chart indicating “acceptable fruit salad proportioning.” It’s rare—I hope—to hear someone else’s voice inside one’s head, but as I read through “5% vine-picked fruit, 3% bush-picked fruit, 2% tree-picked fruit, 1% fallen fruit, 9% surprise me,” I heard the words in Greenfield’s—nay, Schmidt’s—impassioned delivery.

Similarly, if Schmidt ever found himself in IKEA—though the prospect seems unlikely—there’s no doubt he’d yell, “This chair’s not fit to be a lion-tamer’s shield” (Infraction No. 59). He would also, undoubtedly, defend a stripper against charges that she had a limited dance range by declaring, “If a pony only doing one trick has become synonymous with failure, perhaps we as a society have become too demanding of our ponies” (Infraction No. 95).

But knowing what a perfectionist Schmidt is—earlier this year Salon’s Willa Paskin astutely called him “a dervish of caring”—I suspect he would be appalled and outraged to learn that the people who put this book together let him down: The real Schmidt would never call Barack Obama’s memoir Dreams of My Father, as the book does in the acknowledgements, and he would never, ever misspell Dwyane Wade’s first name.

Like Sterling’s Gold—which is a series of zingers from Mad Men, not the memoirs Roger Sterling was writing in Season 4, several Amazon reviewers would like you to know—and the various disquisitions on the “Bro Code” published under the name of How I Met Your Mother’s Barney Stinson, The Douche Journals is an amusing brand extension. If you can’t get enough of New Girl (or, more likely, if you have a New Girl-loving friend who has a birthday coming up), by all means acquire this book.

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

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