Nick: “Are we ever going to get to the point where you stop working on me? Instead of changing me maybe once, Jess, see it my way.”
Jess: “But you’re way is crazy… and illegal”
Nick: “This is me, Jess, and I’m not changing — for anyone.”
These might be the three most important lines that any of the roommates have uttered this season on New Girl. I was talking to my parents this weekend about the show and explained how I feel Jess is limiting Nick as a character. Traditionally, Nick Miller is a mess, a basket case. He does things that only make sense to him, but that’s why we love him.
We find out a lot about the way Nick thinks and operates in a season one episode when Schmidt is fed up with his quick fixes. He MacGyver’s the bathroom so that the toilet only works when the sink is running. He fixes an end table’s leg with a stack of quarters, he sticks a wooden spoon in the soap dispenser and calls it a day. We saw how that argument worked out for Schmidt.
This week, we got the old Nick Miller back after he inherited a paper bag of $8,000 cash. Jess has never seen someone burn through that much money so fast, burning it on shoes that aren’t his size and bedazzled framed photos of himself from a studio. That’s because you’ve never seen Nick with that much money, Jess.
Nick has a box in his closet, a treasure chest of overdue parking tickets, bills and other documents (now including a lot of dollar bills), and when Jess sees how out of control it is her eyes widen and she can’t resist trying to control the situation.
Poor Jess should’ve known better. While Nick’s away, day drinking at the bar he works at, Jess organizes it and pays, at least, an impressive chunk of driving tickets. She even finds the deed to the Mercury Two, a car that Nick lost many years ago, Winston explains.
Winston knows how this is going to end, when he finds Jess with her hands in the box, and he’s right. When Nick finds out Jess was paying off his debts with his money, he loses his cool like any normal person would. Jess was riffling through his shit! And spending his money! So what if Nick prefers a box you’d find homeless puppies in, rather than a bank! That’s why we love him.
Nick is a free spirit, an improviser. Excuse my Forrest Gump reference, but he’s a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get; I mean, he protest-throws Jess’ purses out of the window.
In comparison, Jess is controlling. She needs to feel like her life is going in a straight line. She needs to feel safe. When she spots Nick’s dirty laundry, the alarm in her head starts screaming.
This should be the central conflict and challenge in Jess and Nick’s relationship, and maybe it will continue to be, but the episode veers off course after the fight, neatly tying up 30 minutes with a pretty Christmas bow.
It’s unrealistic that, at the snap of a finger, both Nick and Jess would jump to the other school of thought. Nick starts a bank account. Jess protests the $8 processing fee. That seems far-fetched in such a short period of time — I don’t care how in love the two of them probably are.
Their initial argument was a fresh hit of realism for the show and makes you wonder how long Nick will be able to deal with Jess trying to change who he is. We can all like Jess as much as we want, but we’re not going to be happy if she changes Nick into somebody we know he’s not.