Boy Meets ‘New Girl’ in Quirky Romantic Twist

by | November 15, 2011 at 1:41 PM | Interviews, New Girl

On last week’s “New Girl,” viewers watched as Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) shared a totally adorkable teeth-brushing moment that proved once and for all that these two characters have chemistry. But before the roommates can explore that romantic terrain, Justin Long is joining the cast for a three-episode arc as Paul, a fellow teacher and quirky love interest for Jess.

In celebration of tonight’s holiday-themed episode, “New Girl” creator Liz Meriwether joined a few journalists on a conference call this morning to discus Jess and Nick’s lingering chemistry and to informally introduce Long’s character.

“He’s a teacher at her school,” Meriwether said about Long’s character Paul, whom Jess invites to her roommates’ Thanksgiving on tonight’s episode. “He’s, I guess, whatever the male form of adorkable is. As soon as he walks in the door, Jake Johnson’s character says, ‘Oh my God. There’s two of them.’ [That] kind of describes his character — he’s like the male version of Jess.”

Sneak Peek:

What’s one example of Paul’s extreme quirkiness that makes him a match for the eccentric title character?

“He carries around a kazoo,” the “New Girl” creator laughed. “That’s one detail that I’m particularly proud of. I had to fight for the kazoo. They tell you to pick your battles and I decided to [rally for this].”

“[Paul and Jess] just immediately hit it off,” Meriwether continued. “The struggle kind of becomes Justin Long’s character [trying to get along] with the guys and Jess dealing with coming out of a really long six-year relationship and walking into a new relationship.”

Does this mean that Paul will just be a rebound for Jess so that she can move onto a more meaningful relationship with Nick?

“I think this show is about male-female friendship more than it’s about [relationships],” the writer-producer said. “It’s about Jess learning how to be friends with those guys and those guys accepting Jess into their world and becoming friends with her. That’s the most important thing. Both of those characters are coming out of these relationships that didn’t go that well. I feel like they’re not at the perfect time in their lives to be together. I think it’s actually more important that their friendship blossoms.”

Then why did the writers tease the pair’s chemistry in last week’s episode?

“I think that’s why we did the episode last week,” Meriwether said. “To address [their potential for romance] but say that is not really happening right now.”

In addition, Meriwether touched on a few other subjects like whether viewers will ever see Jess in a classroom, the joy of writing a Thanksgiving episode and whether viewers will get to meet Jess’s parents.

On whether we will see Jess teaching:

“Not in this episode but definitely coming up in the rest of the season. We’re going to get into her work life really.”

Watch “New Girl:”

On how similar she is to Jess:

“I feel like there is a part of me in all of [the characters] — maybe not the model character. I think that originally, Jess was kind of based on me and I was writing about my male friends. I sort of looked around and realized that I had a lot of guy friends and I was wondering why that was and what I went to them for that I didn’t go to my girlfriends for. I think I also am super awkward sometimes [laughs] and occasionally sing to myself and occasionally am a douchebag. I do like to hide in hooded zip-up sweatshirts. I’ve never played professional basketball mafia but I’m considering it. [...] On a more serious note, what was really important to us was making sure that all of the characters felt real and the show felt real and we’ve really made that our focus I think.”

On writing a Thanksgiving episode:

“It’s definitely challenging because I think there have been so many Thanksgiving and Christmas episodes. You don’t want to go into the same territory. On the other hand, they are such universal holidays that are oftentimes so funny because there are moments where people have to come together and I feel like all of my best family stories are from Thanksgiving and Christmas. [...] Like when we did the wedding episode, I think we spent an entire day going around the writers room just telling horrible wedding stories.”

On whether audience members will get to see Jess’s parents:

“We definitely want to go into their family stories. I feel like there is so much comedy in who Jess’s parents are. [...] We’re definitely going to do that. We don’t have anything lined up right now but we’re constantly discussing it in the writers’ room so I’m hoping that that will happen soon.

On guest actors she would like to have on the show:

“I would really love to have Sarah Silverman on the show but I haven’t run that by anybody.”

“I would really love to have Sarah Silverman on the show but I haven’t run that by anybody.”

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