There’s Something About Nick

Alternate Title: Help—I’m in Love with a Fictional Man and Don’t Know What to Do About It

Nick Miller, am I right?

Confession Time: I’ve loved New Girl since the pilot, but I didn’t like Nick for the longest time. In fact, for months during the first season, I was vehemently and vocally opposed to the idea of him ending up with Jess. Nick was everything I found unattractive in the real world: He was unnecessarily angry, pessimistic, apathetic, and unambitious.

It’s amazing how time (and great character development) can change things.

Somewhere around last season’s finale, I began to warm up to Nick Miller, and I’ve been slowly falling head-over-heels in love with him ever since. As each layer of Nick’s personality has been peeled back, I’ve become more and more of a fan of this character who is so much more than he appears to be at first glance.

Nick Miller is surprisingly complex for a sitcom character. He’s a realistic picture of a man so terrified of making the wrong choice that he’s unable to move forward. He’s man who’s reluctant to take charge because he had to be responsible for too many things when he was too young. (If you don’t think “Chicago” was one of the most revelatory episodes of New Girl ever, then you need to go back and re-watch it ASAP.) He’s a man who’s scared to make himself vulnerable but still loves with his whole heart.

I like to think I fell in love with Nick the way Jess did. At first, he was funny and kind of cute. Then, he got annoying—especially because you could see the potential he had to make better life choices. But then he built Jess a dresser, told her he believed in her, and said she was a girl a guy would come back for (which he proved in the Season One finale). And suddenly this character became one of the most realistically romantic men on television.

But everything changed when Nick kissed Jess. All of a sudden, Nick was no longer a goofy guy working through a suspended adolescence. He was a man—a passionate, strong, confident, attractive MAN. It was a kiss that changed everything for these two characters, and it was a kiss that changed everything about how I saw Nick Miller.

So what do I see when I look at Nick Miller now that I didn’t see before?

I see his passion and his fearlessness when he has something—or someone—worth taking a risk for. I see his ability to love and his honesty when it comes to expressing that love. I see his good heart and his desire to do the right thing for all the people he cares about. I see his fragile sense of hope being awakened again. And I see it all in probably the most expressive pair of eyes on TV right now.

When it comes to the many reasons to love Nick Miller, I couldn’t say it any better than Jo, a frequent NGN commenter and passionate New Girl fan. Over on her Tumblr, she has a great list of Nick’s most wonderful qualities—qualities that separate him from the pack of generic sitcom men—and she was kind enough to allow me to share some her favorite things about Nick here (check out the rest of her list too because she makes some excellent points!):

• He’s secure enough in his masculinity to have very close relationships with his male friends—and although he hates it when Schmidt kisses him, he never says it’s “gay” or reacts like he’s worried that people might think he is gay. He also has man-crushes on Dirk and Russell, even admitting several times that he’s in love with Russell.
• He says if he just had sex with a girl he will have feelings for her (and yeah, he actually admits that to his male friends).
• He cares a lot about his friends (even though sometimes they don’t think he shows it).
• He encourages Jess to find good relationships, especially in the beginning with Russell, and tries to protect her relationship with Sam even after the kiss (even though he knows she kissed him back).
• He doesn’t like being told what is allowed in his friendship/relationship with Jess.
• The way he handled his sadness when he thought that Jess didn’t return his feelings was quite mature—he didn’t make a big scene or break down. He tried to keep things from being weird. He moved on without recriminations (because he really does just want her to be happy, not just to be with him).
• He believed that “Future Nick” was telling the truth, especially about hurting Jess. When “Future Nick” said he was leaving, all Nick wanted to know was what he did to hurt Jess. And even after he sees that “Future Nick” is probably just a crazy guy, he still wants to apologize to Jess and make her a drink like “Future Nick” told him to. It really worried him that he will hurt her, even after she (so easily) forgave him.
• The way Nick imagined his child in “Eggs” was sweet and very telling—Nick goes straight to how he would love his child and what kind of dad he would be.
• He didn’t want Jess to make a big deal about their mutual (supposedly occasional) attraction, perhaps mostly because he was trying to hide the extent of his feelings for her, but also because he wants to protect their friendship more than anything. It’s not often that a sitcom acknowledges that people can be attracted to each other and not turn that into a big deal. I love seeing how his/their attraction and connection has grown in such a subtle way, so that it was a surprise to see how strong it was when it finally came to the surface.
• His face is so expressive, and he’s also very good looking—he’s not chiseled model perfect, but he’s very appealing.

Jo’s last point is so true. Who doesn’t have a crush on Jake Johnson at this point? Nick Miller—and Johnson by extension—is not what you would consider classically handsome, but I’ll be damned if he’s not one of the hottest men on TV right now. And I think it all lies in his expressive face. There’s something so honest and open about his facial expressions, whether he’s widening his eyes in fear as Tran carries him in the pool or looking at Jess with an intensity that gives me goosebumps through my TV screen.

I think Johnson’s appearance is indicative of Nick as a character—his appeal sneaks up on you; his beauty is in his imperfections because they make him real. He makes you feel as if finding your own Nick Miller is much more attainable than (but just as appealing as) finding your own Prince Charming. And he sure looks like he knows how to kiss a lady.

This season of New Girl really has been the Year of the Nick, and I’m excited to see where his story—both with Jess and on his own—is going to end up in the next few weeks. A year ago, if you would have told me that Nick Miller would surpass Rick Castle and Jim Halpert on my list of TV dream men (Ben Wyatt is still my #1 in case you were wondering), I would have laughed in your face.

It’s amazing what a cookie, a kiss, and an Elvis-themed funeral can do.

I know I’m not the only one who’s currently obsessed with this character, so tell me—what is it about Nick Miller that you love?

10 thoughts on “There’s Something About Nick

  1. Oh, Nick Miler Nick Miller. Beautiful white man. I knew I liked him in “Katie” (one of the first episodes I saw) because of his adorable admiration for Future Nick and THAT APOLOGY to Jess. I knew I loved him in “Menzies,” when he yelled “I’LL PUSH IF I WANNA PUSH! I HATE DOORS!” at a door. I think it’s been previously established that Grumpy!Nick is my spirit animal, so that’s a huge draw in his character for me. I genuinely like what an old man he is and how he’s “growing into his personality.” I find that reassuring–that there are other people out there (some of whom are DATABLE GUYS) who feel like they’re still waiting for their personality to sync up with their age.

    Nick’s emotions are raw and he wears them on his sleeve, which I think is why he’s not a good liar. He’s honest. I have a huge weakness for characters who are honest, who don’t hold back or bottle things in, because that’s something I’m working on in my own life. His realness is refreshing.

    I can’t say for sure how I would’ve felt about him in season one had I watched it live. Starting with The Season of Nick Miller has undoubtedly colored my opinions of him as I catch up with season one, but honestly, I’ve liked him in every episode of the first season, too. He’s the one who makes the extra effort for her. He’s the one who knows right away that she’s sitting in the restaurant, dumped, and he knows that it’s wrong for her to be there alone. “CeCe Crashes” is feelings HEAVEN. They’re adorable! I cried in “The 23rd” when he missed his flight home to show her the lights.

    I totally understand why, when you started the show, you saw him as unambitious and misanthropic, and maybe I would’ve felt the same, but what I see now is a guy who sees the world in intimate terms. He doesn’t see himself as a force for change on a large scale (although he gets a taste of what it might feel like in “Fancyman Part 1” which oh my gosh, had I been watching this show live, would definitely have been my “JAKE JOHNSON IS PERFECT” epiphany episode). He prefers one-on-one relationships. He prefers small gestures and doesn’t like making a fuss or being fussed over. For how vocal he can be, there’s something very unassuming about him. I totally dig it.

    That’s a glorious list of Nick Miller’s best traits, and I totally totally love this entire post.
    Love it.

    • I totally totally love this entire comment! It’s so cool to get a perspective of someone who started the show during the Year of the Nick. After “Cooler,” I went back and re-watched almost all of Season One, and I had such different feelings about Nick the second time around. For such a long time, I wasn’t sure how to read him, but now knowing that he had feelings for Jess from the start, my vision is clearer and I can truly see that coming through in the character.

      I also think my initial dislike for Nick was caused by a string of guys I met in the real world who were a lot like Nick seemed to be—unmotivated and cynical, and it clouded my judgment. It’s funny how a TV character can sometimes end up with more layers than real people, and that’s exactly what happened with Nick.

      • “It’s funny how a TV character can sometimes end up with more layers than real people.”
        Put that on a pillow, Katie, You’d make millions. It’s so true, and so sad for real life (I’m so sorry about the string of unmotivated, pessimistic guys! I know the type), but at least it says something good about the writers!

  2. I know the feeling. I can’t get enough of Rick Castle. He’s funny, charming, cute and will risk his life for the people he loves. It doesn’t hurt that he has a more than slight resemblance to my late first husband. (Don’t tell my current husband.)

    • Your secret’s safe with me. 😉 We all have our fictional dream men (or a list of them in my case), and I love what those characters say about us and what we value.

  3. Everything. I love everything about Nick Miller. He’s so flawed and he doesn’t even try to hide his flaws. He is a vulnerable man that also somehow manages to be sexy as hell. He does three things better than anyone on TV in recent memory: longing/vulnerable looks, sexual tension, and kissing. 🙂

    The cookie scene, which I am still not sure is supposed to be funny or touching. It starts out seeming utterly ridiculous, and then suddenly it feels completely sincere from all three of the actors. Nick Miller tears? Are you kidding me???

    And finally: “I HATE DOORS!”

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  6. I think Johnson’s appearance is indicative of Nick as a character—his appeal sneaks up on you; his beauty is in his imperfections because they make him real. He makes you feel as if finding your own Nick Miller is much more attainable than (but just as appealing as) finding your own Prince Charming. And he sure looks like he knows how to kiss a lady.

    I just started watching “New Girl”. But I had seen Jake Johnson in “Jurassic World” and “Tag”. The way you had described Johnson reminded me how I found him so attractive in “Tag”.

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