Fans of New Girl heroine Jess can't give Zooey Deschanel all the credit to bringing this character to life -- after all, Liz Meriwether wrote and created our unlikely protagonist, as well as the entire series. In anticipation of tonight's Thanksgiving episode (aptly titled "Thanksgiving"), which guest stars Justin Long, Meriwether took a media call to talk about the current states of New Girl affairs, and what it's like to write for someone so adorable... and polarizing. Below are the highlights.
On the future of Nick and Jess's romance
Probably marriage by the end of season one -- no. I think this show is about male/female friendship... 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 as well, and I think that's the most important thing. I think both of those characters are coming out of these relationships that didn't go that well, and I feel like they're not at the perfect time in their lives to be together... What's important is that their friendship kind of blossoms. (I just used the word "blossoms.") I think that that was sort of why we did the episode last week, to kind of address it, but also say it's not really happening right now.
On Justin Long's character
He's a music teacher at Jess's school, and he's whatever the male form of "adorkable" is. As soon as he walks in the door Jake Johnson's character, Nick, says, "Oh my God there's two of them," which I think sort of describes his character. He's the male version of Jess, and they immediately sort of hit it off, Jess and Justin Long's character. But the struggle then becomes Long's character with the guys, and then Jess dealing with her coming out of a really long six-year relationship and walking into a new relationship.
Also, he carries around a kazoo; that's one detail that I am particularly proud of. I had to fight for the kazoo is all I'm saying. They tell you to pick your battles, and I decided to battle for this.
On pitching a female-centric sitcom to a male-centric network
It wasn't hard; I felt really actually encouraged by the way the network received the show the whole way through... which sounds like I'm sucking up, but I'm not. I think the first time I met Kevin Riley, who is the head of Fox, he said to me, "I want to keep this female character really unique and I want you to protect her throughout this whole process," which was really rare, and the first time I had really heard that from a network exec before. I actually found there wasn't resistance to a kind of odd female character at the center of the show, which I found really gratifying, and I really don't think this show could work if the network hadn't understood it and really supported it.
On the Zooey Deschanel as a polarizing figure
I never really realized [that she was polarizing]; I guess before the show came out, I just loved her acting and I loved her. I like her music. I sort of just love Zooey, and I never really saw her as a polarizing figure and I still sort of don't. I think she's just kind of an amazing actress, and I feel like the character is complicated and has a lot of different layers, and I haven't really understood where the criticism is coming from.
I think I was really just writing about myself, and so my main goal is just to give Zooey, really fun, interesting things to do every week, and then just be really honest with myself about the character and present an interesting, funny female character on television.
On guest stars she's like to bring in
I would really love Sarah Silverman on the show, but I haven't run that by anybody.
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