TV Rewind: How No Good Nick Taught Me Forgiveness

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TV Rewind: How <i>No Good Nick</i> Taught Me Forgiveness

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our TV Rewind column! The Paste writers are diving into the streaming catalogue to discuss some of our favorite classic series as well as great shows we’re watching for the first time. Come relive your TV past with us, or discover what should be your next binge watch below:

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Netflix’s No Good Nick is essentially a kid’s Nickelodeon sitcom accompanied by light swearing. It only has one season (split into two parts), and won’t see another. It’s no surprise that many people found the 2019 show a bit arduous to watch due to the cringe acting and unnecessarily slow approach to its climax, but the show wasn’t anti-climatic in general. The plot is actually incredible, and certainly not the reason for the show’s downfall. In fact, the fatal flaw was the structure the creators used to tell the story. No one knew the exact reason why Nick Franzelli (Siena Agudong) was conning the Thompson family until towards the middle of Part 2, in an episode called “The Italian Job.” The only thing acknowledged in Part 1 is that her dad, Tony Franzelli (Eddie McClintock), is involved in the scheming and has a lot of anger towards the Thompsons, accusing them of ruining his and his daughter’s life. 

From the start, Nick was painted as the antagonist and the Thompsons as the protagonists. Though Nick’s reason for conning was initially unknown, her introduction was as an enigmatic teen who frantically shows up on the Thompson’s doorstep under a fake name, giving the family a false sob story which they eat up and allow her to stay. Throughout the first part of the show, you feel bad for Nick because she’s being forced by her foster parents and dad to engage in scamming the family, but also you hope that Jeremy Thompson (Kalama Epstein), who is suspicious of Nick, finds out about her so she will stop the sabotage. Eventually Jeremy’s suspicions decrease, though, and Nick manages to further ingratiate herself within the family while simultaneously stealing.

From a GoFundMe scam to an estate sale, Nick finds lucrative ways throughout the show to raise money for her dad who’s in prison. While it’s a bit preposterous how okay he is with his daughter going through these great lengths, it also shows the audience just how close they are. And despite the sitcom’s flaws, watching it helped me accomplish something I’ve been avoiding for two years: forgiving my own father.

In that aforementioned Part 2 flashback episode, “The Italian Job,” we’re shown exactly what Nick’s father did to get arrested, which is where the protagonist and antagonist roles switch. Tony owned the Franzelli restaurant that was located across from Liz Thompson’s (Melissa Joan Hart) brand new fine-dining restaurant, which she planned on buying and turning into a luxurious pizza parlor. Unfortunately, Liz’s high-end restaurant, Crescendo, couldn’t compare to Franzelli’s family atmosphere, quality food, and reasonable prices. To help Crescendo’s gain popularity, each member of the Thompson family had a hand in the downfall of Franzelli’s: Liz copied the items on Franzelli’s menu and lowered the prices; Molly Thompson (Lauren Lindsey Donzis) and her friends used Yelp to put up fake yet horrible reviews on Franzelli’s; Jeremy and his friend stole the flyers Nick and her dad were putting on people’s cars in a parking lot; and Ed (Sean Astin), who is a banker, denied Tony’s request to extend his loan even though Tony was a good client, after realizing he owned the restaurant that was his wife’s competitor. 

To save the restaurant from going bankrupt, Tony turned to mobsters to get a loan and committed robberies to pay the loan back. The night Tony was arrested, he and Nick found out that the people who sabotaged them were all part of the same family. 

Before her final sabotage on the Thompsons, Nick gave the family a chance to feel remorse for what they did—but none of them showed. So she gets her final revenge, starting with turning Molly’s classmates against her for advertising a company that sells counterfeit products (according to reviews of the company). After trying to help Molly see the irony, Molly makes it clear she doesn’t regret anything she did to Franzelli’s. Nick then sabotaged Liz’s Top Chef TV show appearance by releasing rats into the restaurant after Liz kicked out a “difficult” customer (hired by Nick), and told Nick that it’s okay to be ruthless to win. Nick also put a photo of Jeremy’s AP chemistry exam answers on his carbon footprint presentation slide show and framed Jeremy for tampering with the student presidential election votes. Lastly, after Jeremy and Molly disclosed Nick’s real identity to their parents, Ed was arrested for stealing an expensive necklace from one of his bank client’s safety deposit boxes—which of course Nick had done.

Though the show’s execution didn’t reach the heights of the plot itself, it spoke to me. After watching the flashback episode, I realized that Tony did what he deemed necessary to not only save his restaurant but keep a smile on his daughter’s face. Ironically, my dad did something similar. He took the illegal path to not only provide basic necessities for his family, but also provide his family with opportunities not many people get to have, like traveling the world. It’s called Grand Theft in the First Degree, and now he’s paying the price. 

The show’s final episode, “The Fool’s Errand,” teaches that with forgiveness comes letting go. Nick was able to tie up one loose end of her life when the Thompson’s forgave her and she forgave them. But then there was her father. In the final yet powerful exchange between her and Tony, it’s palpable to the viewer that Nick visiting her dad one last time was her attempt to put the past behind her. Unfortunately, her father didn’t see things the way she did. He was so focused on his revenge on the Thompson’s that he didn’t realize the damage it was doing to his teenage daughter. The most pivotal moment of the show that projected Nick’s growth as a person was when she shoved the claim of accountability back onto her father. Despite everything the Thompson’s did to them, they were in their predicament because her dad made bad choices.

“The Thompson’s did some really awful things to us, dad,” Nick says. “But you didn’t have to borrow money from a mob or rob a convenience store in order to pay off your debts. All of those were your choices, and the Thompson’s didn’t make you do any of them. And now because of you, I’ve made a lot of choices I regret.”

This scene was the puissant force to push me to forgive my dad. Nick relinquished her anger she held against him and the Thompsons. I did the same. After releasing the anger I had for my dad, I realized that while he did what he did for his family, he’s a grown man. No one pushed him to make the choices he made. Many people in this world go through financial problems, yet many handle them the right way. There was one moment where my dad started to justify his actions claiming he used the money he stole to donate to charity and for other good deeds, but he failed to see the damage he put his family through. The hole he dug for himself expanded and his family fell into it. I gave him little hints that he needed to take accountability by telling him that we didn’t need those extravagant family trips or luxurious purses; that we were happy with what we had. Eventually, he started to understand that his predicament could have been avoided, if he had just opened his eyes and seen the smiles on our faces. In that, he might have realized that he did what he did because he was deprived as a child and wanted to give himself and his kids the life he never had, but when that urge grew stronger, he took more than he could give.

For two years, it was hard to forgive him for the stress he put on us. But, after Nick let go, she still vowed to her dad that she would help him through his struggles—something I also needed to do. Holding that anger against my dad wasn’t going to help him get through this tough time. He needs love and support. He’s still my father. Now, I’m able to say I forgive him and, despite the consequences he’s facing for his decisions, I’m grateful for him.

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Taylor Berry is a journalist who writes about arts and entertainment, politics, and culture. Her work has appeared in Rising Artists music blog, Sis2Sis Magazine, NewsOnyx, District Fray, and more. You can follow her on Instagram @_taylorberry20_.

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