Favorite Fictional Characters, #368: Nick Miller
Updated: Feb 20, 2022
Like everyone else, we watched The New Girl because Zooey Deschanel is quirky and funny and cute, the most improbably, awkwardly sexy leading lady since Alyson Hannigan. The show starts slow, like most new episodic television, with the writers and actors still feeling out how it's all going to work. From the opening gun, Jake Johnson knew where his wheelhouse was, and he immediately inhabited the grumpy man-child Nick Miller with a slouching charisma that served as the rumpled center of gravity for the show's ensemble cast: the foil to Schmidt's preening ambition, the countermelody to Winston's dour fragility. Nick was a simple creature with a lugubrious, second-gear temperament punctuated by brief volcanic rants of defensive rhetoric, still waters that ran shallow. Complacently lazy, Nick often eschewed hygiene and nutrition and exercise, paradoxically convinced of both his own unworthiness and exceptionalism. And he might have been right. A law school dropout and rudderless bartender, he eventually mined his own twisted psyche and produced best-selling popular fiction in the person of Julius Pepperwood. Yes, I am jealous. Also worthy of jealousy: Nick's romantic kismet with Deschanel's titular new girl, Jessica Day. Their quirky personalities found resonance in each other's souls, which is all any of us can ask for. I love that the tortured, self-doubting, caustic Nick Miller found both lasting love and creative fulfillment. From a show that was mostly about hilarious put-downs and dysfunctional relationships, Nick's journey was a pleasantly surprising narrative of hope for all of us. Fun fact: the show's original working title was Chicks & Dicks. Our first ideas are not always our best.