New Girl went off the air two years ago but I only finally watched it this past year. Even though I knew a few people who were fans it never seemed like my kind of thing, and with seven seasons that were all about twenty-three episodes long (minus the shortened final season), it felt like a huge time investment for something that was unlikely to pay off. The whole cutesy, adorkable thing Zooey Deschanel has going on is not something I tend to enjoy. Then COVID happened and all of a sudden I was quarantined and working from home for the foreseeable future. Now almost 3 months later I’ve watched the entire show twice through, and my favorite episodes multiple times each. It took me a while to get into it but Schmidt made me laugh so much right away. Plus Coach was hot, Cece was fun, Winston was cute, and Jess actually ended up being fairly tolerable (although it took a good half a season for her to stop relentlessly annoying me), so I kept going. Nick Miller on the other hand? He did not jump out at me at all. At first glance he seemed like nothing special- a lazy underachiever, a lovable slacker, and a bit of a slob. Besides the slob part which is very much accurate, it turned out that this was not in fact the true essence of Nick and the longer I watched the show the more I realized how little those other labels actually applied to him. Nick Miller might be a mess but he is also a grown-ass man in every sense that matters, and a stealth hottie you do not see coming.
The realization that I was watching my literal dream boyfriend on the screen came on gradually and then grew stronger and stronger until it was overwhelming. I mean there were times I had to pause the show and just sit with it. Part of it is just a quality that defies explanation. There is an aura of comfort and warmth, and just a solidness he exudes, the source of which I can’t really pinpoint. But there is also a lot I can pinpoint and I will attempt to do so here. Since watching the show I found that I was far from alone in my obsession with this trash hunk, so in order to sort through my feelings and explain his appeal (to myself as much as to anyone else) I am going to list 5 reasons why this man burrowed his way into my very soul.
- Nick Miller consciously chose the life he lives.
It is made known pretty early on that Nick dropped out of law school. He began working as a bartender instead, which seemed to place him in the category of an underachiever. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that this assumption is really just born of snobbishness. Who says the life of a lawyer is worth more? Who says higher social and economic status should be more important to a person than their happiness?
All of the things that make people underestimate Nick or think of him as a man-child are things that not only don’t harm anyone (except sometimes Nick, when it comes to things like never exercising or eating a vegetable) but they are also conscious choices that Nick has made and consequently, he is living the exact sort of life he wants to be living. This really clicked for me when Nick eventually reveals that he actually took the bar and passed it. He explains, “I wanted to prove to myself that I dropped out of law school because I wanted to be a bartender, not because I couldn’t be a lawyer. … The point is, is that I want this. It makes me happy.”
Nick requires no outside validation of his life choices, which is why he doesn’t go around telling people he passed the bar. He only needed to prove to himself that he could. He doesn’t need anyone to think of him a certain way because he knows who he is. He cares whether or not his closest friends respect him, sure, but he would never have befriended the sort of people who would have less respect for him because he chose a job in the service industry over a fancy lawyer gig. Nick eventually ends up owning the bar with Schmidt and then also becomes a writer, because Nick isn’t afraid of success itself it’s just that he’s not going to trade what he has for anything that will place him on a path that is both more demanding and less fulfilling. It would never even occur to Nick to make decisions based on the expectations of others.
When Nick’s father passes away they all go back to Chicago with him for the funeral and Jess, the newest person in his life, is shocked to discover that Nick is the stable, responsible member of his family that everyone else relies on. They immediately look to him, the youngest brother, to organize everything. Choosing to avoid certain types of responsibility should never be confused with an inability to be responsible.
- Almost all of Nick Miller’s emotional labor goes towards trying to spare his friends pain, embarrassment, and disappointment.
Nick Miller is a pessimist right down to his bones. In his own words: “Nick Miller- making lemons out of lemonade since 1982”. Personally I think of him more as a realist but that’s just me. But unlike most pessimistic characters who are at odds with their optimistic friends, Nick does not place value on his pessimism or think of it as “smarter” or more valid than other ways of viewing life. Jess, Schmidt, and Winston are all incurable optimists and instead of trying to convince them they are wrong he incessantly goes out of his way to protect them from disappointment. He tries to warn them against getting their hopes up about things to be sure, but in the end he always backs off and agrees with them- that maybe this time it will be different, that this awful person will change, or that doomed relationship will work, knowing the whole time that it won’t end well. Nick knows the world will do plenty to break his friends’ spirits so he’s damned if he will contribute to it. He gives gentle warnings then shuts all the way up, prepared to pick up the pieces afterwards like he always does. Nick is the king of damage control.
Mostly it is with Schmidt and Jess, only because they are the ones who need it the most. Winston might be an optimist and a sweetheart but he is also much better equipped to deal with reality, because growing up black meant that he was unable to escape it. He needs Nick’s help much less frequently, and Coach needs no such help at any time. Schmidt however is the most delicate of emotional flowers, and Jess sees the world through a pair of rose-colored glasses so strong they were probably forged by mountain dwarves. But we will cover Nick taking care of Jess later so instead let’s talk about the episode Return to Sender. In season five Schmidt is engaged to Cece and is justifiably the happiest boy in all the land. His dad Gavin (played by the always wonderful and still smoking hot Peter Gallagher) is back in the mix. Gavin left Schmidt and his mother behind when Schmidt was young, and ever since then he has dropped back into Schmidt’s life intermittently. Because Schmidt completely lacks the emotional armor that fully encases Nick, he manages to get his hopes up every single time that his father will stick around and so gets his heart broken over and over.
Ever since Nick came into the picture in college it has been the same story- Nick warns Schmidt not to get his hopes up, Schmidt does anyway, Gavin lets him down, and Nick is there for Schmidt with a milkshake and a shoulder to cry on. This time though, Nick has had enough. When Gavin refers to the location of Schmidt’s wedding incorrectly, Nick points out that the wedding is actually being held somewhere else and that Gavin would know that if he was around more. Schmidt takes him aside and asks him to be nice to his dad, because maybe this time it will be different. Nick, ever the voice of reason, says “Schmidt, I want you to have a relationship with your father. I’ve just been down this road so many times. He just shows up out of the boo (“blue”, Schmidt corrects him), he shows you a great time, you get sucked in, then he disappears and breaks your heart and I’m left to pick up the pieces.” But Schmidt begs Nick to let him have this, so of course Nick does. He starts getting along with Schmidt’s dad just fine and they share some drinks. Then Gavin invites Schmidt out to dinner to celebrate and Schmidt is thrilled, both that his dad is back in his life and that Nick and Gavin are getting along. Nick first agrees that it is great, then says gently, “I just want to check in. You said you weren’t getting sucked in.” Schmidt denies that he is. Later as Gavin leaves, Nick follows him into the hallway to give him the type of talking-to that only a surrogate father or brother can give. (He begins this talk by saying, “I feel like I can say this to you because we shared a cup.” Gavin replies “Wow you really live by a specific code.” This is not particularly relevant but “Nick Miller Lives By A Code” is a strong runner up for this list so I wanted to include it.)
Nick: “Look we both know how this is gonna go down, Gavin. You’re gonna get Schmidt’s expectations up then you’re gonna bail.”
Gavin: “I know.”
Nick: “Just BE better. Be his dad. Just be there for him even when it’s not fun, and sometimes it’s really not fun. I know, I’ve been doing it for 15 years.”
Gavin: “Thank you.”
Nick: “Don’t thank me, just promise me if you show up for dinner tonight you’ll show up tomorrow, and the day after that, and the week after, and basically forever.”
Gavin: “I will.”
Nick: “Will you, Gavin?”
Later Nick finds Schmidt at the restaurant alone and he hands him a milkshake and sits down, because even though he said he was tired of picking up the pieces of course he will never stop doing it. Luckily this time Gavin shows up and Nick doesn’t have to.
Contrast this with a much earlier episode in season two called A Father’s Love, in which Nick’s own dad (who soon after passes away) comes to town. Nick also has a very charming but disappointing man for a father, but where Gavin is only unreliable Walt Miller is also an actual con man who cheerfully swindles even his closest friends and family members out of money at every opportunity. Nick is immediately on edge once his father arrives, and while he is angrily “fixing” the sink (well, mostly banging on the pipes with a hammer), Jess of course encourages Nick to talk to his father. Nick explains that there is no changing his dad. (“You wanna know why I’m messed up? Why I don’t trust people? Why I have anger issues? Why I have the blood pressure of a hummingbird?”) Jess being Jess, she is optimistic about Walt’s ability to change. Nick stops trying to argue with her but he also doesn’t consider for a second the possibility that his father will change, not even a little. He is not Schmidt. He keeps watch from the sidelines, his only real concern being to prevent his dad from taking advantage of Jess’s trusting nature. He knows that Jessica is wrong to expect the best in people, but he also loves that she does.
After his dad eventually pulls one of his cons and sneaks out of the apartment, Jess is the one who is upset, not Nick. She is disappointed and sad on Nick’s behalf, but Nick is fine. He finds Jess angry and frustrated, banging on the same pipes under the kitchen sink.
Jess: “Walt’s gone. I know how hard it was for you to talk to him, and- some people, I just don’t underst! They just! Ughhhh! I understand why you want to break pipes now. Let’s just drink a bunch and destroy the sink.”
Nick: “I don’t need to break the pipes, Jess. I’m fine. I mean truth be told, I was happy to see him.”
Jess: “I thought if you talked to him, then maybe-“
Nick, shaking his head: “No, Jess, people don’t change. When someone’s broken, they just stay broken.”
Jess: “You’re not broken.”
Nick, with a sad little laugh that cuts me to my core: “I’m a little broken.”
Jess: “You should be so much worse. I don’t know how you made it out, but- you’re good.”
Even after Nick was the one to be let down he was still more worried about how it affected the people closest to him. Because he saw it coming a mile away and he knows that there are at least two people in his life who never will.
- Nick Miller’s protectiveness and love of Jessica Day exists outside of romantic context.
Of course Nick proved he would do anything for Jess when they were a couple, but I’d rather talk about how he was just as protective and supportive before and after they were. In the very first episode he began doing the thing he would do over and over and over for the next 7 years- he dropped everything the second she needed him. This is a common trope in TV shows when there is a romantic pairing, but what makes it different and so attractive in Nick is that it is born of his protective nature and not out of any sense that he wants something in return. Nick behaves the way he does towards Jess because that is who he is as a man, not because he is a doormat and never because he sees her as a possession or object to defend. He protects her because he loves her humanity and wants her to hold onto it, and this subtle distinction might be the actual one thing that makes him irresistible to me. Here are a handful of episodes that illustrate this really well:
At the end of the pilot episode Nick, Schmidt, and Coach are outside of a club trying to get in. Nick runs into his ex-girlfriend Caroline, who recently dumped him and who he is still in love with. They’re about to go get a drink together (giving him hope of the reconciliation he so desperately wants), but then he sees the guy he knows Jess is supposed to be having a date with that night. This is the very first date Jess has gone on since she walked in on her long-term boyfriend cheating on her, which was what caused her to move into the loft with them in the first place. They were the ones who encouraged her to start dating again after weeks of watching her cry on the couch while watching Dirty Dancing on repeat. Immediately Nick demands to know where Jess is, and the guy says he blew her off because she texted him 7 times throughout the day which clearly makes her a crazy person. Disgusted and pissed off, Nick asks “So is she waiting for you to show up, or did you call her?” The douchebag laughs and makes it very clear he didn’t bother. The realization that Jess has been stood up the very first time she put herself out there again and is sitting in a restaurant alone at that very moment flashes across his face and it is enough for him to leave Caroline at the club without a second’s hesitation, telling her only “I gotta go help a friend.” Nick runs off. Coach goes with him right away, and Schmidt eventually follows after throwing a brief fit about missing the party. At the restaurant Jess is in tears as the waitress is telling her she needs to give up the table. Nick comes running in first, the other two hot on his heels.
Nick: “We’re here, Jess! We’re here!”
Coach, right behind him: “We’re here for the date.”
Waitress: “You’re ALL on a date?”
Nick “Yeah, we’re her boyfriends. We’re reverse-Mormons. One man just isn’t enough for her.”
Nick can never see Jess cry without trying to cheer her up, so he starts singing a song from, of course, Dirty Dancing. Badly. Coach and Schmidt join in and they cause a minor scene in the restaurant. It is intentional- Nick takes all of the public humiliation off of Jess and puts it firmly upon himself. That moment alone really should have tipped me off to the fact that Nick was going to low key be the MVP of the entire show.
There is an episode still prior to Nick and Jess’s relationship called Fluffer, which was probably the one that first started me down the road to Nick Miller-induced madness. Jess is having casual sex with a very hot man named Sam, but Winston starts to notice that Nick is the one doing all of the “boyfriend” tasks for Jess, even going out to dinner with her before she goes home to hook up with Sam. The final straw for Winston is when Jess asks Nick to go with her to an Ikea an hour and a half away so he can help her buy furniture. Winston tells Nick he has become Jessica’s emotional “fluffer”, essentially a boyfriend without the rewards. Nick brushes it off, but then after they get home from Ikea she also hints to him that she would like him to put the dresser together. The dresser that she just bought to replace the one she and Sam broke while having sex. What Winston said finally gets to him and he tells Jess no, that he won’t be her emotional fluffer and also that he won’t just drop everything and do anything she asks anymore. Nick and Jess briefly argue about what constitutes a friendship vs. a relationship.
Nick and Winston later have another conversation in which Winston tells him again that under no circumstances is he to build furniture for a girl who is not his girlfriend. Nick agrees but then he walks by Jess’s room, sees the unopened box, and he starts putting it together anyway. Jess walks in while he is building it and tells him to stop- she has realized he’s right, and that it is not fair. Nick says it’s fine but Jess feels bad.
Jess: “I can’t let you ‘fluff’ me! I can’t let you work in emotional porn, you have too much to offer.”
Nick: “Forget it Jess, I’m building you the dresser. I love this stuff, it’s like high-stakes Legos. Just don’t make a big deal of it. I don’t need a bunch of people telling me what we can and can’t do together. That pisses me off. If I wanna build you a dresser I’m gonna build you a damn dresser.”
Nick Miller is nobody’s white knight waiting in the wings he is a grumpy, cuddly papa bear taking care of his friends. Nick knows what he is comfortable with and he is completely okay with taking care of Jess whether they are dating or not. He always has been. He let Winston get in his head for a hot minute but at the end of the day Nick is the one who decides what his relationships are going to be like. He isn’t pining, he isn’t being a martyr, and he isn’t waiting for Jess and Sam to break up. He just likes taking care of people, especially Jess. He likes building things. Most importantly he isn’t going to let anyone tell him what he should and shouldn’t do for the people in his life.
Then we come to Halloween, which is definitely my favorite New Girl episode that pre-dates their relationship. Jess is working seasonally at a haunted house as a zombie. Nick is scared of haunted houses and everyone duly mocks him for it. Jess is still hooking up with Sam but they are still not technically dating. They had agreed from the beginning it would be casual sex only, which was going just fine until Jess finds out he is a doctor- and not just a doctor, a pediatrician. Jess is an elementary school teacher and anyone who takes care of children is kryptonite to her heart, so naturally she catches feelings. Later Jess runs into Nick in the hallway as they are both coming out of their rooms (a girl Nick was into in college is visiting and is in his room- the first thing they do is high-five and say “High-five for sluts!”, referring to themselves, because they are supportive like that) and she tells Nick she likes Sam and is going to ask him for a real relationship. She invites Sam to visit her at work that night, and figures that if he shows up it means he likes her back and it is a sign she should talk to him about dating for real.
Later at the haunted house Nick and Jess talk about Nick’s fear of getting serious with the girl who is visiting. Jess tells Nick he should be brave and just “go into the haunted house”, as a metaphor for a relationship. Then, Sam shows up! Nick is happy for her. After greeting him though, Jess has to go back into the haunted house to do her job. Sam takes out his phone and Nick makes a comment about how doctors are always busy, but no, says Sam, he is texting another woman. He tells Nick he is so glad he and Jess are on the same page and it is clear that Sam does not want a relationship. Once again, the knowledge that Jess is about to be rejected and possibly humiliated flashes across Nick’s face and he knows he needs to find Jess, and if not save her from it then at least prepare her for Sam’s answer. So Nick Miller squares his shoulders, slaps himself in the face a few times, and walks right into the haunted house (this is obviously a callback to the conversation they had earlier since it shows exactly who Nick would walk into a haunted house for).
He is terrified and starts screaming repeatedly at a clown who is following him, which makes me die laughing every time I watch it. He faces his fears to try to help her and again, he didn’t hesitate for a second. I mean he ends up accidentally punching her when she comes out of nowhere and grabs him, but nevertheless. Jess ends up asking Sam for a relationship anyway because she is convinced that he too is just scared, but he very gently tells her that he is not scared he is simply not interested. Sam and Jess are done for the moment, but at least she didn’t have to go in blind. Plus later Nick makes her punch him in the face in retribution for his punch, which is very funny and also probably cheered her up.
There is one more pre-relationship episode I will talk about because there is no way we can discuss Nick and Jess without mentioning Cooler. This is the episode that has their first (and insanely hot) kiss, but I only want to mention a moment that happens early on. Nick, Schmidt, and Winston go out to try to find girls to hook up with. Jess is now dating Sam who had a change of heart and won Jess back after rejecting her on Halloween. But Sam is working, Cece is on a date, and Jess is home alone. She hears scratching at the door but doesn’t see anyone, and starts to get freaked out. It keeps happening and she finally calls Nick, who is beyond frustrated with her because of the many times she has now cock-blocked him (they use the term “the cooler” to describe what Jess is to Nick, which I guess is a much more polite way of putting it). She asks him to come home. He tells her no, that he’s had enough of this. But then Jess says, “Nick, I need you.” Nick closes his eyes and you know right away that those were the magic words and he is now completely resigned. A few minutes later and he is walking through the apartment door with Winston, Schmidt, and the girls they were talking to at the bar all in tow, to make sure Jess is okay.
The last episode I will talk about here is Helmet. This takes place well after Nick and Jess have broken up, during the time when Jess has started dating Sam yet again. Jess has a sex dream about Nick which prompts her to get rid of some of the stuff Nick gave her when they were dating, including an old Cubs helmet she was keeping her change in. Nick finds the helmet and asks her why she got rid of it. Between Cece and Jess not being able to keep a secret he quickly learns of dream. Of course he’s happy and amused but he’s not smug, and he doesn’t make a huge deal about it or try to make her feel embarrassed. He does want the details, but being Nick, asks things like “Was I 100% human?”.
After the three of them laugh about the dream Nick goes to leave but tells her that she can’t get rid of the helmet. Jess asks him why he cares so much, and Nick reminds her that he gave it to her as a Christmas present. Jess claims that it was just a last-minute gift he grabbed from his room and didn’t even wrap. She proceeds to put it on to point out about how little use she would have for it, and it gets stuck on her head. Nick tells her of course it got stuck, as it is a child’s helmet. She can’t get it off and instead starts trying to break it. Finally, after he is completely out of other options, he blurts out that she can’t break it because it was a gift from his father. His father who is dead. Jess is shocked. “You gave me something your dad gave you? Why didn’t you tell me?” Nick says it’s hard for him to talk about his feelings, especially when they have to do with his dead dad. But they can’t get it off, and so eventually of course he is the one to insist they break it to get it off her head so that she isn’t late to a dinner where she is supposed to meet Sam’s parents.
At the end of the episode Jess gifts him a broken piece of the helmet that she framed beautifully to hang in the bar he owns. Those two actions- him breaking the helmet and her making the artwork for him… well my friends, that is some Gift Of The Magi, O. Henry-type nonsense and it perfectly encapsulates their relationship. They take care of each other.
Like many people I grew up thinking that stories about unrequited love were incredibly romantic. I slowly came to realize over the years that the majority of them are bullshit messages designed to tell women that men are entitled to them if they put in enough effort, and to tell men that they can “win” a woman if they just hang around and are persistent enough. Nick and Jess have a beautiful story because the love and respect between them has always flowed equally in both directions. They might realize their feelings have swung back around to romantic at different (and usually inconvenient) times, but the core of their relationship is mutual love and an unshakable friendship.
Nothing drove this home harder than the breakup they went through, which only happened because they were fighting and they hated fighting, and they both agreed that they missed their friendship too much. Not only was their breakup completely mutual and utterly devoid of rancor, but they supported each other through it as much as they were able to. There is a scene soon after where Jess is crying on the couch watching her go-to breakup movie, Dirty Dancing, and Nick calls her from his room where he has also been crying. They each check that the other is okay, reiterate how much this sucks and how sad they both are, then Nick throws a box of tissues out of his room onto the couch when she says she is out. They know they can’t support each other physically in that moment because it would be too hard, so they do absolutely everything else that they can. I adored that scene because how can something be so sad and so fucking comforting at the same time? I loved them as a couple but I knew their friendship was never in any danger because they both protect it at all costs. At the end of the day that’s what mattered the most to me too. I frequently refer to New Girl as “friendship porn” because that’s exactly what it is.
I feel I must add that if you’ve not seen the show this section might make the relationship between Jess and Nick seem lopsided, but rest assured if I wrote a post about Jessica Day’s love of Nick I could list just as many examples of her supporting and protecting him, if not more. But this is about Nick so you’re just going to have to take my word for it.
4. Nick Miller is masculine without being remotely toxic.
Schmidt is immediately established in the pilot as the most stereotypical male of the loft in the areas of “womanizing” (Lord that word is so stupid) and full-strength douchiness, but that’s where it ends. Besides being fastidious about fashion and grooming Schmidt is also incredibly emotional and dramatic. He showers Nick with affection and fusses over him constantly. Nick is the one who has a hard time expressing his feelings, but this shortcoming is made endearing rather than annoying through his many efforts to address it.
These efforts are most effectively demonstrated in what might be my favorite episode between Nick and Schmidt ever, called You’re the Turtle. Schmidt randomly gives Nick a cookie and Nick thanks him, but asks him why. No reason, Schmidt says. Nick, confused, asks if it was a buy-one-get-one-free situation. Schmidt tells him no- that he was simply thinking of Nick, he saw the cookie, he knew Nick would like it, so he bought him the cookie. Nick wonders why Schmidt would be thinking of him for no reason and Schmidt says he thinks about Nick all the time. He then asks incredulously if Nick never even thinks about him when he’s not around. Nick says of course he doesn’t, in a tone that implies this is the weirdest question he has ever been asked. Schmidt of course becomes very upset. Nick takes it to Winston to try to figure out which of them is the crazy one in this situation. Winston immediately sides with Schmidt and then points out to Nick that he has always had a tendency to be emotionally distant with his friends, even back when the two of them were children together. He finally tells Nick “That wasn’t a cookie, it was a piece of his heart.”
Later an exasperated Nick also talks to Jess about his relationship with Schmidt, who he has now lived with for almost 10 years. How does Nick know it has been that long, you might ask? Because he has recently received an email from Schmidt asking him what he would like to do for their “tin” anniversary. Nick tells her, “The truth is, Schmidt loves me so much. And to be honest Jess, it scares me. I mean, I don’t think I deserve all of Schmidt’s love.” At this point, Schmidt emerges from his bedroom with red eyes and asks if Nick is happy now because he is “finally out of tears”. He walks back into his room and Nick turns to Jess and says, “That’s a third of my life.”
Finally at the end of the day Nick approaches Schmidt in the kitchen and gives him a cookie he went out and bought for him. This whole scene is hysterically funny which is the only reason it gets away with being so sweet. When Nick presents him with the cookie Schmidt gets even angrier, as Nick is obviously missing the point. Nick is frustrated and confused as to why this didn’t fix it and finally he just starts yelling “You gave me a cookie I gave you a cookie! You got me a cookie I got you a cookie! GAVE ME COOKIE I GOT YOU COOKIE. We’re even Schmidt! We’re even! You love me too much, Schmidt! And you picked the wrong guy! And when are you gonna get that through that giant head of yours! I’m just gonna let you down.” Nick is starting to choke up at this point. Schmidt realizes that Nick has been agonizing about this all day and the fact that Nick is so upset about it is enough for him. Nick says, “I got you a cookie, Schmidt, it’s the best I can do.” Schmidt hugs him and Winston hugs them both. Nick ends the hug saying, “You guys are the best, I love you guys. I’m sorry, man. I’m sorry.” Nick Miller cares, and he tries his best. As the other two are leaving the room a smiling Schmidt says “This needed to happen” which made me laugh out loud. Man do I love a show with straight male friendships that are so full of love and affection. Normalize that shit- normalize it all day. Normalize it until the cows come home, then normalize it to the cows.
- Nick Miller is incapable of true dishonesty or disloyalty.
One word: Sweatback. Nick Miller does not cheat and he does not lie. Even small lies eat him alive. It’s frustrating for his friends when they need him to keep a secret because even if his mouth doesn’t betray him his body does. When Nick is forced to lie his entire body sweats profusely, producing the telltale “sweatback”, which is what his friends call it when the back of his shirt soaks through with sweat. It is always played for laughs (and it is hilarious), but it’s also a rare quality for a grown man to have and speaks not only to his simplicity but to his integrity. Being deceitful goes against his very nature and he absolutely hates doing it. It’s admirable, completely adorable, and so goddamn funny.
Another consequence of this is that Nick tends to blurt out random confessions when literally no one has asked.
I had to cut my list down to 5 because I could talk about this man for days, but I would be remiss if I didn’t include one honorable mention. Nick Miller panic-moonwalks away from people when he becomes too uncomfortable and there is nothing funnier in this world.
I’ve definitely become more cynical and critical as a TV viewer, not just of the romantic relationships we are supposed to be invested in (usually trite, doomed, or shallow) but also of the type of men we are supposed to admire. The age of the anti-hero was perhaps stronger a few years back, but it is still prevalent enough that I appreciate it when a show values kindness in its characters more than anything else. Not that all shows need to be this way, I loved Breaking Bad as much as anyone else and I am obsessed with more murder shows than I can count, but I can tell I am getting overly saturated in it when shows like New Girl or Parks & Recreation still feel like breaths of fresh air. As much as I love watching nightmare humans on screen (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is literally my favorite TV comedy of all time) I also need at least a couple of shows that are about fundamentally good people. I don’t want the characters to be boring or perfect, just people that you can feel good about rooting for. New Girl provides this while also being really, really funny.
The four main dudes of New Girl are very different from each other, and of course they make mistakes all the time like everyone else, but they are all good men. Whether you prefer Schmidt and his constant melodramatic affection, Winston with his awkward, utterly weirdo-brand of sweetness, Coach with his cool-guy distance that is the hardest to break through, or Nick. My slovenly, devoted, pure-hearted king with his grumpy old man personality and the sexiest nose on TV. There need to be more men on TV like Nick Miller, if for no other reason so that all kids who crush on boys can grow up knowing there are other men to pine for besides alcoholic serial cheaters and emotionally distant homicide detectives.