New Girl S6 Positivity Post #2: Nick’s Character Development
In response to Nick being dumbed down:
The character has always been wilfully ignorant. There is a thin line between ignorance and dumbness, but it exists all the same. In real life, people’s traits do become more exaggerated as time goes on – for good or worse, is entirely subjective.
For example, two years ago, I was a pun-free machine. Now I’m a pun-hit punder, cracking puns left, right, and centre. People groan. People sigh. People roll their eyes. If I went to Nick’s bar, I’d be a punter. Nevertheless, this part of my personality is only going to progress (or regress, depending on your view of puns).
You could say this about Nick. Whether you choose to recognise it or not, he has undergone a tremendous amount of growth, however subtle it may be.
I see a lot of comparisons to Season 2 Nick. Let’s go back to Season 1.
In Season 1, Nick was an angry bartender who despite his demeanour, seemed perfectly happy to remain in an irritable stagnation for the rest of his resigned life.
“I can’t just jump into something if I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I never have been that guy…I’m the guy that, if I don’t know what’s gonna happen, I don’t do something. Ever. I don’t care how bad I want to do it. I don’t do it. Like, if everybody would go into the ocean and jumped in the water, well, I’m the guy on the beach guarding the wallets.”
- Injured, 1x15
But then Nick starts taking risks. He goes to the ocean and jumps into the water, and Jess guards his wallet. He jumps from a safe life with Caroline back into Apartment 4D for Jess – though he may not have realised that at the time. He kisses Jess. He kisses Jess again and they start something and it feels right, and perfect, like it was meant to be, and it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t know what’s going to happen because he’s so happy and it has to work out, it has to. Things are going right.
I’m all in. I’m, like, weirdly, all in.
- All In, 3x01
(Since when did Nick throw himself completely into something?)
It doesn’t work out. And that’s okay, it was worth it. Nick feels like he’s gained something, and he hopes Jess feels that way too. He’d rather have Jess as a friend than not have her in his life at all.
I don’t deal with exes. They’re part of the past. You burn ‘em swiftly and you give their ashes to Poseidon.
- Exes, 3x15
We are the best ex-couple in the world.
- Cruise, 3x23
He carries on taking risks.
Ending a long-term relationship was a big risk in itself, and so was continuing it as a friendship. At the beginning of Season 1, it was Caroline who broke up with him. I’d wager that his relationship with Jess was his first and only mutual breakup. Jess is most definitely the only ex with whom he has remained on such close and friendly terms.
He becomes part-owner of the bar. Not only does he take another leap, he takes the steps towards it. He could have easily given up when told he and Schmidt didn’t have the necessary funding – he didn’t.
Then the girl he likes goes away, and he prepares a Goosebumps Walkaway™ because he’s never going to see her again – except, he decides that, yeah, he doesn’t want that to be the case, and goes to make a move, although she does beat him to the punch by a matter of seconds.
Now I’m going to drink, ‘cause that’s my move.
- Elaine’s Big Day, 2x25
Months later, they’re barely a day into a brand new relationship when she asks him to go away with her for three months. Nick’s only ever been around her for a month. He hasn’t spent that much time with her, especially romantically. Jess gives him a little confidence, and boom, there goes his next jump.
Now we’re in Season Six.
Nick is a part-time owner of the bar. He is in a committed long-distance relationship. He is in the process of writing a full-length, quality book dedicated to Jess.
It’s a far cry from the resigned bartender who wasn’t over his ex after six months, whose writing consisted of spelling ‘rhythm’ incorrectly 38 times and a word search holding no words.
Some time ago, I read an old discussion in the AV Club comments (I forget which review, sadly), that agreed Nick wasn’t dumb. He was wilfully ignorant, because pretending to be dumb means that people wouldn’t have high expectations of him, and he wouldn’t need to meet them. And honestly, it makes complete sense. It’s not me trying to see the positive in things; it’s what I have observed of the character.
Nick doesn’t need to try lower anyone’s expectations now. He has proved himself to be perfectly capable over six seasons. He’s grown so much.
I think he knows it’s hand sanitizer, not ham sanitizer. I think he plays unaware because it makes life more amusing – it’s more fun to think that letterboxes are robots and that girl’s hair is a wig. I think it’s become a habit, and he doesn’t know how else to act now.
I am certain about one thing: Nick Miller is not dumb, and has had positive character development.