Warning: This post contains minor spoilers for seasons 1 and 2
I started watching this show the past couple of weeks and, my God was I surprised. It’s not like I expected it to be bad or anything. The description on Netflix made it seem like it was going to be a standard family sitcom except there’s a girl trying to pull wacky schemes on them. Funny, right? What I got was so much more, and I absolutely love it.
Let me back up for a second and explain the show’s premise. Nick Patterson is a foster child that one day moves in with the Thompson family. She shows up claiming that she’s their second cousin twice-removed (totally believable) and cries about having nowhere else to stay. The Thompsons take her in, and it’s then Nick’s true purpose is revealed: She’s a con artist, brought on by her foster home(the Harbaughs) to rob the family and get revenge for a past debt, the details of which make for an interesting ride.
When I watched episode one, I thought it would turn out like one of those live-action Nickelodeon shows, the 2010’s ones, not Zoey 101 or Drake and Josh. Nick would try to pull off a wacky scheme each episode, and family hi-jinks ensue. But the rest of the first season, and the second season, blew me away, to the point where I can’t think about anything else other than how amazing this show is.
So what makes this show so awesome? I think for me it’s for two main reasons: The show is a sitcom and it’s not a sitcom. If it was only one and not the other, I would still like it quite a bit, but I think the fact that it’s both elevates the show to a whole other level. I’m going to try to break down the aspects of each, and why they manage to work so well with each other.
All the traditional qualities of a sitcom are apparent in No Good Nick: The three camera setup, the laugh track, the cheesy one liners characters say to look witty. This show wouldn’t feel too out of place at a traditional network like ABC or CBS. What makes these qualities work is that at it’s core, No Good Nick is supposed to be fun and lighthearted. Watching Nick hatch out these elaborate plans to rip people off is played off as comedic, even in scenes with her father in prison or the Harbaughs. And watching Nick scheme and play people is a joy to watch. Siena Agudong, the actress who plays her, is brimming with charm and personality in her delivery, and she’s one of the best things about the show for me.
While all these schemes are being pulled behind the Thompson’s backs, a family show is running in the background. Characters go through their normal lives, learning lessons about family and friendship just like other sitcoms, with Nick providing an element of chaos to make things more exciting. There’s a constant tightrope Nick walks throughout the series between growing a genuine bond with the Thompsons and being ruthless in her methods, which only gets harder to do the longer she stays with them. Multiple plans of hers aren’t successful because she starts to like being part of the family a little too much, and her reputation with the Harbaughs suffers for it.
II. The Non-Sitcom
I’ll be the first to admit, I love dramatic, emotional stories way more than comedies. Most of my favorite pieces of media can be classified as “teen melodrama”. The part of No Good Nick that surprised me the most was its willingness to not only be a family sitcom, but a family sitcom that goes beyond its premise and offers well written, dramatic and emotional story lines all while being a show suitable for all ages. The first great example of this is in episode eight of season one, when an old friend of Nick’s visits and makes her ditch school.
This is the first major point in the series where Nick has to confront the double-life she’s been leading in order to fool the Thompsons. Her old life with her dad and her new life with the Thompsons makes her feel trapped, like she can’t open up to anyone without exposing her secret. Her breakdown at the end of the episode was what turned me from just being interested to being fully invested in the show’s plot and characters.
I was constantly thinking throughout watching the show. Thinking about the logistics of Nick’s cons, if they would really work, how they could be improved. I know this is a really out there comparison, but this show literally gave me Breaking Bad vibes when I found myself rooting for Nick to succeed. The way she views what she’s doing as helping out her family, and the morally gray decisions she’s faced with especially in the second season, I felt like I was watching a teenage Walter White, seeing herself turn into someone she’s proud of and not proud of at the same time. I won’t get too much into season two for spoiler’s sake, but man, some of the stuff she does made me question if I was still watching a sitcom. There’s another brilliant episode that serves as a flashback explaining how Nick got to be in her situation, and it does its job so well in providing context for the characters and connecting the story’s continuity, I’ll just stop before I spend my whole night gushing over this show.
Another thing I want to touch on, which I don’t think can be left out without doing the show a disservice, is the LGBT representation. Again, it’s a little bit of a spoiler, but the show does have a gay character who does eventually comes out. And it’s not one of those subtle “we’re here to collect our social justice brownie points” type of things either. They actually say the words gay and boyfriend and coming out, and its prominently featured in the story. I can’t think of any other family show that so casually does this like No Good Nick, and it’s a little crazy to think that it took this long to happen, but this fact alone should be a reason why the show deserves to be talked about and watched, and partly why I wanted to write this post to begin with.
Yeah, I freaking love this show to pieces, and I hope to God there’s more coming and the Netflix cancellation train will steer clear, because I need more Nick in my life. The last time I became this obsessed with a show was Legend of Korra when I was 13, and now I’m a 19 year old boy and obsessed with watching a teenage girl commit felonies for laughs. What a world we live in. It’s these types of things that are so special to me. The show’s, movies, books, and games that you just think are going to be alright, but end up exceeding way past your expectations and end up becoming one of your favorites. Please, give No Good Nick a watch and prevent Netflix from doing anything funny with it. It’s so damn good. Also, here’s another Nick shot to convince you.