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‘New Girl’ takes big leap for final episodes

By Rick Bentley • Updated Apr 9, 2018 at 3:29 PM

LOS ANGELES — The cast and crew of the Fox comedy “New Girl” were ready to see the show end when the sixth season did. The final episode was written to be the show finale in case the network decided the “New Girl” had gotten old.

Then the word came down from the executives there would be a seventh and final season consisting of eight episodes of the critically acclaimed and award-nominated series. The last offerings begin 9:30 p.m. Tuesday and will continue to a special one-hour finale on May. 15.

It all starts with a three-year leap forward that executive producer Elizabeth Merriweather explains was necessary to be able to wrap up all the stories exactly the way they wanted. These final stories all grew out of the original plans the team put together when the show launched in 2011. The dynamic of the show was described when the cast first met with the press as Zooey Deschanel playing the new girl who moves in with three guys, and the focus would be how she deals with three different roommates.

“I’m so passionate about this show,” says Merriweather. “It’s been my life for seven years and I feel really good about the end of Season 6, but I really wanted a chance to say goodbye to the show with a final season. I think the network definitely had questions about what happens next.

“I just love these characters, and I love this cast and the people that work on the show so much. Seven years. Shows don’t really run that long anymore, and so I think it’s just really been this family for me. I fought for the final season, and hopefully, it was worth it.”

The show has been so strong that Deschanel was willing to put aside a strong film career to commit to a TV series. It was love at first sight, as Deschanel described her character during her first interviews for the series as “someone who expresses her emotions all the time. She’s very much herself, and she’s almost too in touch with her emotions, which I think is a really great contrast with the other characters, who are, like, less in touch with their emotions, and I think that’s sort of a lot of the comedy comes out of that juxtaposition.”

From that base came the show that took a modern look at friendship and romance, as a group of five friends attempted to find their respective places in the world while trying to accept the responsibilities of adulthood. As the sixth season came to a close, Jess (Deschanel) told Nick (Jake Johnson) of her true feelings for him. Winston (Lamorne Morris) and Aly (Nasim Pedrad) got engaged, and Cece (Hannah Simone) and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) received news that they are expecting.

The final season will feature the return of notable guest stars including Damon Wayans, Jr., Dermot Mulroney, David Walton, Nelson Franklin, Sam Richardson, Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner. J.B. Smoove and Tig Notaro also will make their series debuts in guest-starring roles.

Writers for “New Girl” made a list at the beginning of the season in which they asked the questions of “Who do we want to bring back? What do we want to bring back? We’ve got eight. How do we do this? Is there a way to use people over the course of the eight episodes?” That was both fun and a challenge for the team but in the end, they were certain the main people fans wanted to see come back will be in the last episodes.

It’s the cast — including the actors who came back for the final season — that was the biggest attraction to doing the show for Deschanel.

“It’s such a treat to get to work with amazing people for seven years. That is so rare. And all of my professional experiences had been limited to the run of a movie. So it had been a lot of different movies, but no more than probably six months at a time. And I’ve gotten to work with all of these people through so many life changes and through watching everyone grow as people and as actors and as writers,” Deschanel says.

“I’ve gotten to know everyone so well. And it’s kind of like high school but longer. And I love everyone so much. I feel so fortunate that I was able to be there at the beginning and help with the casting process and meet every single one of these actors when they came in, and I read with everyone.

“And I feel like this sense of camaraderie that I’ve never felt before, and I don’t know if I’ll ever have again. So I just I can’t say enough positive things about this experience just from me just as a person. I love these people so much, and I love our crew so much. I mean, they are not here, but we just had such an amazing group of people that we got to work with every day, and I will forever miss that, you know, that working experience.”

It wasn’t just the cast and crew who enjoyed “New Girl.” The series has been nominated for five Emmy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards. In its debut season, the series earned a Writers Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Television – New Series, and more recently received a nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Television – Episodic Comedy.

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‘NEW GIRL’

9:30 p.m./8:30 p.m. Central Tuesday, Fox

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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