A running joke throughout New Girl is that Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is a Republican. The characterization was originally supposed to just be something for Schmidt to surprise viewers with every now and then. You forget that he's a Republican, and then he reminds you with a weird belief this otherwise progressive man shouldn't have. And when New Girl premiered in 2011, things were -- for lack of a better word -- less insane. A comic character's political affiliation didn't seem so significant when the country was less polarized and before Republicans elected Donald Trump.
Schmidt's politics are a tough fit for New Girl in 2018, though. New Girl doesn't really do political humor, but its cast and crew are vocal supporters of Democratic causes and put their politics into the show. In a 2016 episode, Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Schmidt's wife Cece (Hannah Simone) campaigned for Hillary Clinton, while Schmidt supported Speaker of the House Paul Ryan for president, refusing to even acknowledge Trump's candidacy. It was a well-meaning workaround back when it didn't seem like Trump was going to win. But Season 7 is jumping forward in time three years, and "Ryan 2020" is kind of an awkward albatross around Schmidt's neck. Schmidt is a likable guy, but he's a lot less likable if he stumps for a heartless austerity hawk who's a staunch supporter of the incumbent President.
"It may be an episode that I regret," Greenfield told TV Guide at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. "I just imagine him running at some point and them playing that clip and me being like 'oh f---.'" He says they stayed away from Schmidt's politics in the final eight episodes of the show. He also says that there was some concern about the equal-time rule after the Clinton-endorsing episode and they figured it was better to not do anything that would make them think about FCC political regulations. And he thinks a show like New Girl leaning into politics "feels like a stretch."
He's not wrong. And it's not like New Girl needs to explicitly talk politics to make its sensibility evident. Its target audience of women 18-34 leans strongly Democratic, and with its diverse cast, nontraditional family structure and urban setting it just feels like a show for liberals the same way that Shooter feels like a show for conservatives. It doesn't have to say its politics aloud to be clear about what they are. Watching New Girl is a way for liberals to escape politics for a little while. No one needs Schmidt to talk about Paul Ryan, so he won't.
New Girl Season 7 premieres Tuesday, April 10 at 9:30/8:30c.