The Great Boyfriend: Nick

One of my favorite television boyfriends is Mallory's boyfriend Nick on Family Ties.

Nick is Mallory's modern artist boyfriend. His art is as dreadful and as good as a budding modern artist's would be; that is, the producers actually bothered to create real pieces for Nick that occasionally are quite legitimately artistic.

He is introduced as a biker and does in fact ride a motorcycle. He apparently dropped out of high school (although the implication is that he got to a certain age and was kicked out without graduating--he later gets his GED). He has no desire to go to college, and Alex (P. Keaton) worries about his ability to support a goldfish, let alone Mallory, in the future.

Mallory, Nick, and his art
Since Mallory is as ambitious as Alex in her own way, planning to open a series of boutiques and even, later, start her own line of business clothing for women, I don't think Alex needs to worry. Nick will make a GREAT house-husband/stay-at-home dad (with the part-time job of teaching after-school arts/crafts at the Y).

What makes Nick such a great boyfriend is that he is utterly supportive of Mallory, even encouraging her to go to college despite the possible distance it may put between them. He is an intuitive thinker, which gives him a kind of objectivity--he doesn't do things or agree to things unless they are good ideas. He is politely guileless, an adorable combination: after the first aborted family dinner, he returns to apologize to the Keaton parents for leaving and to state emphatically that he wants to date Mallory. He is emotionally intelligent, taking his loss in the art contest with mature acceptance. And despite or perhaps because of the "Hey!"s, he is a fairly decent conversationalist--although Alex insists that Nick and Mallory are the equivalent of cave-man and cave-woman, both are quite adept at exchanging views/working things out (Gottman's criteria--not "listening" so much as devising mutual practicable strategies). 
The Keaton parents realizing they were more like Nick
when they were younger than they want to admit.

And Nick is truly tolerant--more tolerant (and more unconventional) than the Keaton parents, a fact that is played on throughout the show. He accepts people as they are, all the way from Alex to the Keaton parents, even if what they are is being not entirely cool with him.

He enters the show in Season 4 and stays the remaining seasons. He was a brilliant addition, providing occasional tension, humor, and a foil to the not-as-bohemian-as-they-thought middle-class Keaton family.

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