To write a pop culture blog that will succeed by most internet traffic metrics, one must have a keen grasp of where the current cultural conversation is and where it’s likely to go next. It’s the ability to know that, while one day’s focus is Holy Shit Have You Seen This Snyder Cut Trailer, the next will turn to Holy Shit Have You Seen This Cruella Trailer. In many ways, it’s like being a successful quarterback. You’ve got to process what’s happening right now and what’s going to happen in five seconds.
With that in mind, I would like to share a theory I recently developed, about a sitcom that ended almost three years ago and a movie released in 1987.
Fred Savage plays “The Grandson” in The Princess Bride, the film adaptation of William Goldman’s 1973 novel and a regular entry in various Top 100 Movie lists. His character is sick in bed and being read to by Peter Falk, who plays “The Grandfather.”
New Girl aired on Fox for seven seasons starting in 2011, and I would categorize it as a perfectly enjoyable show that it’s totally fine if you never watch. One of the lead characters is Nick Miller, played by Jake Johnson.
I believe these characters are the same person. Here is my supporting evidence.
1. They look alike
Go back and review the photos if you don’t believe that Young Fred Savage could play Jake Johnson As A Child.
2. They’re both Chicago sports fans
Throughout New Girl, Nick talks about his affinity for the Bears, Bulls, and Cubs. The Grandson wears a Bears jersey, and has a Refrigerator Perry jersey on his wall.
3. Literature is an important aspect of each character
Most of The Princess Bride takes place within the story The Grandfather is reading to The Grandson, but there are regular breaks in the action where we see The Grandson’s reaction to the fantasy tale evolve. At first, the very idea of being read to disgusts him; he’s got a perfectly good game of HardBall! going on his Commodore 64, after all. After expressing concern that he’s about to be read “a kissing book,” The Grandson goes along with this tender family moment, when he’s assured the story will have plenty of action in it. By the end of the movie, he’s deeply invested in the relationships between the characters and has grown as a reader.
Nick starts New Girl as a bartender who dropped out of law school, but he eventually pursues a long-held passion project: a moody detective novel called “The Pepperwood Chronicles.” Nothing about Nick seems aggressively literary. Wouldn’t it make sense if one meaningful childhood experience with a book drove him to create his own epic?
4. The family trees are visually consistent with this theory
Here’s what Peter Falk looks like as The Grandfather in The Princess Bride.
And here’s Dennis Farina playing Nick’s father on New Girl.
Look me in the eye and tell me in this shared universe that Farina couldn’t be Falk’s son. YOU CAN’T DO IT, CAN YOU?
If that’s not good enough for you, let’s look at The Mother in The Princess Bride, portrayed by Betsy Brantley.
Now let’s jump to Nick’s mother on New Girl, who’s played by Margo Martindale.
Again, this could absolutely be the same mother twentysome years later! These casting choices are meant to tell us something, and it’s perfectly normal for me to point them out as proof of my theory!
5. There are no crossovers that ruin this theory
New Girl, like many sitcoms, had a boatload of guest stars: Linda Cardellini, Taye Diggs, Justin Long, Jamie Lee Curtis, Taylor Swift, Dermot Mulroney, and so forth. It’s Prince’s last acting credit. But here are some well-known actors who never appeared on the show:
- Cary Elwes
- Robin Wright
- Wallace Shawn
- Mandy Patinkin
- Chris Sarandon
- Christopher Guest
- Billy Crystal
- Carol Kane
Yup, that’s basically everyone in The Princess Bride who plays someone in the story The Grandfather’s reading. (Rest in incredible power, André the Giant.) Why does this matter? Because if, say, Robin Wright shows up in Nick Miller’s universe, that suggests she’s not Princess Buttercup. Her absence from the former preserves her existence in the latter, and further proves that Nick is The Grandson.
There’s one cameo in New Girl that really solidifies this theory, however.
6. Rob Reiner, the director of The Princess Bride, has a recurring role on New Girl
He plays the father of Jessica Day, Nick’s on-again, off-again romantic interest. Because he’s not actually in The Princess Bride, there’s no continuity issue with his appearances on New Girl. And given the mountain of evidence I’ve already presented, this casting was clearly a decision on the part of New Girl’s creators to signal that I am exactly right about this show and this movie made almost 30 years before it having one major character in common.