Given that the show was called “New Girl” and its star was Zooey Deschanel, it was easy to predict the direction of this Fox comedy when it debuted last fall. Each week, she would do something wacky/adorable, and her trio of roommates would be like the Greek chorus reacting to said wackiness/adorableness. But then, something different began to happen. The new girl became old hat and her three roomies – Schmidt (Max Greenfield), Nick (Jake Johnson) and Winston (Lamorne Morris) – began to get just as much screen time. Whether it was watching Schmidt secretly woo Jess’ (Deschanel) model friend CeCe (Hannah Simone), Nick not so secretly woo college girls or Winston look for work, every character got a chance to shine.
Expect that trend to continue in the season finale, which airs May 8. “We wanted to leave our characters in a different place than they started the year, to show the ways they’ve grown and their relationships have evened up,” says creator/executive producer Elizabeth Meriwether. “We want to finish out the year showing how this group of friends has really come together and learned to love each other.” As for how that’s going to happen, she had these secrets to share about the final episode and beyond.
Take us insider your approach to the finale, and what you wanted to accomplish.
In addition to wanting to really make it clear how everyone has changed during our first season, we wanted to make sure that the finale was funny. So it was exciting to get to do something different from our regular episode. A lot of the finale takes place in the desert. That was really fun to shoot. We wanted to work with the story we had going, with Nick figuring some stuff out, so the desert seemed like a good metaphor for where he’s at – a little lost. There will also be some tensions with Schmidt and CeCe figuring out the terms of their relationship. They’ll hit a rocky road that will set up problems for them next year.
Did anything disappoint you about this season? Anything you wish you could have done, but didn’t have the time, forethought or resources?
There are always things you wish you had a bit more time with. And then, looking back, you realize how wrong you were. That’s part of the fun, what makes network television so hard and so great. It moves so quickly. But I think in general, we were trying to figure out who these characters were all season and some we figured out more quickly than others. I wish that we’d had more stuff for Winston to do at the beginning, but that was tough because Lamorne was just joining the cast (replacing Damon Wayans, Jr.) after we’d broken a lot of stories. So we hope to explore his world more in Season Two.
What should fans look forward to next season? And if you haven’t gotten that far yet…what would your dream season be?
We don’t really know about next season yet. We’re still really trying to figure it out. I’d love to meet the characters’ families. We didn’t meet anyone’s parents or siblings this year and I’d love to get into their childhoods and learn why they are the way they are. We’ve set it up that they’ve had challenges in their pasts, so it would be a lot of fun to explore that. It’s also be nice to do more with Nick’s bar, looking into who works there and what that’s like for them. And do the same for where Schmidt works, get into that ensemble, the people and their lives. We’ll hopefully be meeting more and more characters who our characters live and work with.
What were the high points of the season?
I’m really proud of the episode, “Injured,” about Nick’s cancer scare. It felt like something we were worried about but I’m really happy with how it turned out. And there was “Bad In Bed,” where Jess tries to have sex with Justin Long’s character. He was doing his Jimmy Stewart voice, and she was doing her voices. It was so weird, but also really fun to do that one! Mostly I’m just glad all the characters became something else. That’s the best thing, and how you know a show is working. Like Schmidt, who got more complicated as we went along, with so many details about his character and what he’s working on coming out. If these people had stayed where they were in the pilot, it wouldn’t have been as interesting a show to watch. We wanted this to be an exploration of character.
Do you have a favorite episode, line or scene from the this season? If so – what?
There’s a coyote in our finale that I’m pretty excited about. Look out for the roadrunner joke!
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