Zooey Deschanel may still be touted as the star of Fox’s “New Girl,” but her co-stars Jake Johnson as Nick and Max Greenfield as Schmidt routinely steal the show. (Lamorne Morris has his moments, too, as Winston.) As Deschanel’s Jess has been toned down several notches — less adorkable, more relatable — the men in her in life have only been amped up. Schmidt is still ridiculous in his striving to be cool; even his attempt to hang with the hipsters down the hall went down in flames. (“Who wants to start an Arcade Fire?”) Nick, however, is approaching the absurd, and it is glorious. Whether he believes the old homeless man frequenting his bar is actually an older version of himself visiting from the future or has trouble reciprocating Schmidt’s affection and cookie-giving (“Give me cookie, got you cookie!”), Nick is always hilarious and endearing. Johnson brings such sweetness to the character, a guy still trying to find himself and who has a lot of potential, if only he put as much effort into developing a career as he does planning elaborate pranks on his roommates. You can’t help but want to be his friend.
Johnson was perfect in this week’s episode, “Halloween.” Nick’s fear of haunted houses is something many can relate to, and not just because here the haunted house largely represented his fear of the unknown in relationships. No, those houses are terrifying because demented clowns jumping out and screaming at you is terrifying. It’s just not cool. Naturally, Nick screamed back at the clown and later punched a zombie — perfectly understandable behavior. But he was in the haunted house for a noble reason (finding Jess, the zombie — long story), and he powered through his fear out of dedication to her. Nick is evolving, but he’s still one of the funniest characters around. He had me at his Bea Arthur costume.
So here’s to Nick, who is afraid of many things but isn’t afraid to shriek at the sight of pretend monsters. He’s the best. This sequence in the haunted house just may put this among my favorite of Halloween-themed TV episodes.
You really can’t blame him for this, Jess. I’d have started swinging, too.
Sarah Carlson is a TV Critic for Pajiba. She will probably steal the Bea Arthur idea at some point.