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Series / The Millers

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He thought he left the nest.

The Millers is a 2013–15 CBS sitcom created by Greg Garcia and starring Will Arnett as Nathan Miller.

Nate is a local TV reporter in Leesburg, Virginia. The show follows Nate as he tries to deal with issues at work and with his family while also trying to maintain an active social life. Things get complicated when Nate's parents suddenly decide to divorce and his mother moves in with him while his father moves in with his sister and her family.

The show also stars Margo Martindale as Carol, Nate's overbearing mother, and Beau Bridges as Tom, Nate's Manchild of a father. Sean Hayes joined the cast in Season Two as Kip, Carol's new Gay Best Friend and roommate.

Very abruptly cancelled by CBS partway through its second season.

Not to be confused with We're the Millers.

The show includes examples of:

  • A-Cup Angst : Debbie considered getting a boob job "to look like Jessica Rabbit" when she was younger.
  • Acme Products: Leesburg apparently has various establishments that all have the same owner: a person/family/company by the name of McGee. These places range from ice cream parlors to restaurants (including an Irish-Chinese fusion restaurantnote ) to a strip club.
  • Aside Glance: One episode ends with Nathan's father Tom, sister Debbie, and brother-in-law Adam wondering if people saw his just-finished newscast:
    Tom: They will if the Big Bang audience stuck around long enough to watch it.
    Debbie: They are the smartest audience on TV.
    [Camera cuts to a side view and they all turn to stare into the camera for a few seconds]
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Tom is easily distracted. He sets the shows premise in motion by forgetting to shut off a tap due to a squirrel passing by and flooding his and Carol's house in Myrtle Beach as a result.
  • Batman Gambit: When Debbie suspects that her mother and brother are reading her diary, she puts in a false entry about her father being gay. They fall for it and she is able to catch them because of it.
  • Berserk Button: Berserk buttons in the case of Carol. The littlest thing can get her ranting, which Nate then repeats verbatim for a news segment called Miller's Mind.
  • Brain Bleach : When his parents split up, Nate listens to them argue about his dad masturbating. He's hiding behind the couch by the end of the argument. Gets a great Call-Back when Carol's parents have an argument during the first season Christmas episode.
  • Butt-Monkey: Tom is frequently pushed aside by most members of the family, with his ideas and suggestions being dismissed or twisted without a second thought. Nate comes to understand just how callous he's been to his father and just how much Tom sacrificed for their family.
  • Call-Back: In 'Cancellation Fees' Carol uses Adam's leg braces from his leg extension surgery (first mentioned in 'Driving Miss Crazy') to help sell a lie.
  • Chubby Chaser: Tom stares at the Lane Bryant catalogue just a little too long. Carol herself is Hollywood Pudgy.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Ray is convinced that he can talk to birds. He climbs into a tree and starts cawing out La Cucuracha in an attempt to attract a parrot.
    • Part of the reason why Nate divorced his wife was because she believed that 60 would be the new 30 and wanted to freeze her eggs so that she and Nate could have children via surrogate once they reached that age.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment : Nate and Debbie had to make "apology videos" for Carol when they screwed up.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Adam and Debbie's experimental smoothie in the pilot is a combination of kelp and blueberries that is both briny and sweet in equal measure. Nate gets to spit his out while Mikayla is forced to drinks hers.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tom, usually responding to some aspect of Carol's behavior that he doesn't have to deal with anymore.
    • Mikayla became more of a snarker after she was recast.
  • Depending on the Writer: Tom would sometimes fluctuate between Obfuscating Stupidity and being Too Dumb to Live.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: The show's title sequence is a greatest hits parade of family photo trends over the past several decades. Most haven't aged particularly well.
    • The title sequence is also a Freeze-Frame Bonus, because it's made up of collages of old photos of the cast that zoom out to become Miller family portraits. Freeze framing the sequence reveals some real life embarrassing old photos from the cast's past.
  • Granola Girl: A male example, Adam was raised on a commune, that had a cultish leader, by a mother who apparently really got aroundnote . He and Debbie own a yoga studio with an attached vegan cafe, although they themselves are vegetarians. Adam even had pigtails when the Millers first met him, although Carol forced him to cut them off before he could marry Debbie.
    • Debbie used to live in an unhappy yuppie existence as the doormat fiancé of a creep. Once she met Adam, though, she fully embraced his lifestyle.
    • Nate once went to a music therapistnote  who spoke like a stoned hippie and filled his office with beanbags and African tribal artwork.
    • Carol follows Nate on vacation and has a fling with a stoner named Ganja Pete, played by Tommy Chong no less, who lives in a shack made of corrugated metal.
  • Happily Married : Debbie and Adam. Subverted with Carol's parents.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Adam is more than a head taller than Debbie. She has to jump quite high to give him a high five. It's revealed in 'Driving Miss Crazy' that Adam had uneven legs and had to have his right leg lengthened and then the left because the doctors went overboard on the rightnote .
  • Ironic Echo: The first season's Christmas episode has Carol's father attempting to leave her mother. They have the exact same fight Carol and Tom had in the pilot. Carol takes on Nate's role, saying the same horrified protests.
    Tom: Deja vu!
  • Lethal Chef: In universe, Carol regards Debbie's vegetarian cooking as being unappetizing, blatantly destroying Debbie's meals so she won't have to eat them.
    • Although such tasty-sounding dishes as kale-and-blueberry smoothies and mung-bean muffins might indicate Carol is right.
  • Manchild: Tom is largely helpless on his own due to having had his entire existence dictated by Carol for so long.
    Tom: "I can't figure out the coffee maker."
    Carol: "What kind is it?"
    Tom: "It's a white one."
  • Manipulative Bastard: When browbeating her family into submission doesn't work, Carol will go behind everyone's backs and pull the strings until things go her way without anyone being aware of it, even going as far as faking someone's death.
  • Marty Stu: In-Universe, Tom maintains a make-believe world called Tomlandia inside his head. There, he's a superhero named Tom Tom and Tomlandia's residents, expys of his family, all look up to him, except for the expy of Carol, whom he defeats in battle. This is because he spent years being ignored and dominated by his family and he wanted at least one place where he'd be taken seriously. The concept is bastardized into a generic kid's show that never goes past the pilot stage. Mikayla loves the original version of her grandfather's stories.
  • My Beloved Smother: Carol meddles in everyone's lives. It's so bad that Nate goes so far as to hide his divorce from her, knowing that she'll try and fix things, thus setting off the show's premise. Unfortunately, his divorce serves as a catalyst for his parents' own divorce and Carol ends up living with Nate full time. It's more than enough to drive Nate into therapy.
    • While trying to track Nate's movements Carol ropes in two telephone operators, who are smothers themselves, to break their confidentiality agreements and tell her where Nate has been going as well as tracking his spending habits.
    • In Season 2, Nate finally gets Carol to move out. Unfortunately for him, she only went as far as the apartment across the hall from him and she's now living with her new Gay Best Friend. The situation is bad enough that Nate seriously considers burning his building down, even going so far as to light a match before stopping himself.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Tom normally seems to live in his own world as a result of Carol's overbearing nature. Occasionally it's revealed he knows exactly what he's doing and how to play everyone to his own advantage.
  • Product Placement: The 1st season Christmas episode has a fairly blatant one for Microsoft's tablets.
  • Really Gets Around: Debbie reveals in the Season Two premiere that Tom has been bringing a different woman home every night and keeping the rest of the family awake with his noisy antics. He doesn't even bother to learn their names.
  • Secret Diary: Carol and Nate regularly read Debbie's diary, as we find out in "Dear Diary."
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Done by Nathan at a particularly awkward dinner with Carol and Kip.
    Let's see what's behind door number one. [opens front door] Why, it's an exit! I win! [walks out]
  • Sleepwalking: Mikayla pretends to be sleepwalking, complete with outstretched arms, when Carol catches her in the kitchen late at night digging into meat lasagna.
  • Thrown Down a Well: Discussed. Debbie figures they can't afford to pay for Tom to live in a nursing home, so she tells him "We're going to have to throw you down a well."
  • The Unfavorite: Debbie feels (justifiably so) that her parents always favored Nate. It's mitigated somewhat by the fact that Nate dearly cares for her and uses his own Manipulative Bastard tendencies to help her.
  • What Are Records?: Mikayla pulls out a VHS tape and has no idea what it is, thinking it's an old cell phone.