If you're hoping to fill the family-friendly sitcom void left behind by One Day at a Time or even the impending end of Fuller House, you might be tempted to check out Netflix's newest offering, No Good Nick. Unfortunately, the new series can't stop getting in its own way and, instead of developing into something relevant, enriching, or even just entertaining, arrives as a middling binge that won't make you laugh often enough, and will make you feel even less.
No Good Nick centers on the Thompson family — doting, albeit goofy dad Ed (Sean Astin); overworked and underappreciated chef mom Liz (Melissa Joan Hart); bleeding-heart teen activist Molly (Lauren Lindsey Donzis); and popular high schooler Jeremy (Kalama Epstein) — who are surprised by the sudden arrival of Nick (Siena Agudong), a girl who claims to be a distantly related orphan in need of a new place to stay.
Some members of the family — Ed in particular — are more eager to welcome her in than others, but almost no one does their homework about Nick. Only Jeremy seems interested in double-checking her story, and his concerns are consistently written off as pure jealousy, as his research yields one maddeningly dead end after the next. As the title indicates, though, Jeremy is right to side-eye the family's newest addition. Nick, as we learn early in the series premiere, is neither their relative nor an orphan. She has instead been sent to con the family out of some cash on behalf of the criminal couple she lives with, while her father serves time in jail.
There are some fun moments courtesy of Nick's gifts for scheming — most often when she decides to help her new mother figure improve her restaurant business and proves to be genuinely savvy about making legitimate money. However, every time Nick experiences anything resembling a true connection with someone, we see that she's just tricking them (and us) all over again. Only when Nick finds herself on the receiving end of some similar duplicitousness do we get the chance to actually care about her, and by then, it's hard to imagine Nick unraveling herself from the wicked web she's woven enough to even approach redemption.
Instead of watching Nick grow in this new household, where she's showered with hokey affection far too quickly, we see her set up and step into one trap after another, displaying little remorse or depth. Ten episodes in, we don't get to know much about Nick at all, except that she's a phony who's long been manipulated by other phonies.
Unlike other antihero narratives of late, wherein you inevitably find yourself siding with the lovable baddie and hoping they get away with it, it's rare to actually root for Nick to succeed with her subterfuge. The victims are so wholesome and gullible that every time she takes advantage of them, it feels cruel. Worse, the first season is so beholden to Nick running back to her game that even when we finally start to see her blossoming into a real person or fitting in with her new family, we're taken right back to square one immediately. Put simply, No Good Nick can't ever get past the repetitive gimmick of its premise, so all it offers is a sneaky, hard-to-like thief who lies to everyone, including herself.
Beyond the reductive structure and character problems, though, there are some endearing performances to be seen in the show, particularly from Astin and Hart, and things are certainly uncomplicated enough for No Good Nick to be one of those shows running in the background of your day. If you're looking for a mild-mannered watch that doesn't require much attention, No Good Nick is fine enough. As long as you don't expect it to feel as relevant or satisfying as some of the streaming service's other offerings in this genre, you won't be disappointed.
No Good Nick arrives on Netflix on April 15.