We realize that the Emmy nominations are still several months away, and we’re also pretty well aware that the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy field may be more competitive than just about any other out there. After all, you have the stars of “Modern Family” dominating as they do every year, and when you throw in “Parks and Recreation,” “Community,” and what is going on over on cable.
However, we will stress it again now just as much as we have stressed it all season on “New Girl” — someone better recognize Jake Johnson for being the unsung hero of this show. Tuesday night proved yet again why Nick Miller may be this series’ best character — he has a bit of madness, but unlike Schmidt and Jess he chooses to bottle it up until it starts to boil over. This week, we saw that as his desire to be cool and one of “the 99%” completely overruled by his desire for consumption — and his reaction to it was funny every step of the way.
What got us to this point? Jess had met a parent of one of her teachers in Russell (Dermot Mulroney), and after supposedly disagreeing with him about her teaching method she was told to visit his office and apologize. (After all, he is a big donor.) A trip to his office ended up with a broken-down car, and a serendipitous encounter with him led to her being invited to a party at his lavish mansion. Strangely, Jess decided to bring Nick along for the ride.
While we will thoroughly commend Mulroney and Zooey Deschanel for producing some of the best chemistry that the series has seen yet, it was Johnson who stole the show here. When Nick opened his mouth at Russell’s house with an admission, we know that there were some ‘shippers out there hoping that he was going to come clean about his feelings for Jess — but then, he said that he was really in love with Russell (or at least what Russell has). What was so impressive here was that even though the line was ridiculous, there was enough restraint that we actually believed him.
Overall, Johnson’s Nick is a key cog in what has made “New Girl” a staple of our Tuesday-night lineup. In some ways, he reminds us a bit of a younger version of Ted from “How I Met Your Mother” without the pretentious airs — he proves that you can be likable without always doing likable things.
Who do you think is the best part of this show?