Interview with Creator/Exec Producer Liz Meriwether from New Girl

Recently, Liz Meriwether, Executive Producer and creator of New Girl, took the time to speak with us about the show. She shed some light on where Jess/Nick are headed, the plans for the season, and the show in general.

On the future for Nick and Jess

Liz Meriwether: Probably marriage by the end of season one—no.

It’s going to go fast and furious. No. I think this show is about male/female friendship more than it’s about— I mean 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 they’re both 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 sort of be together. But I think it’s actually more important I think that their friendship kind of blossoms. I just used the word blossom. I don’t think it’s going to be like— I think that that was sort of why we did the episode last week was to kind of address it, but also say it’s not really happening right now.

I think they have great chemistry. Everyone on the cast has great chemistry; I think that’s why the show is working. I think of all the characters they’re the two that kind of I think fit together the best, but I think they have a while to go emotionally before they’re going to be at that place. I think, I don’t know, but who knows.
Jump ahead to read more.

About Justin Long’s character & how he affects the guys’ relationship with Jess

Liz: Yes. He’s a music teacher at her school, and whatever the male form of a dork … is. I don’t know. No, 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 sort of the male version of Jess, and they just immediately sort of hit it off, Jess and Justin Long’s character. But the struggle kind of then becomes Justin Long’s character with the guys and then just Jess kind of dealing with her coming out of a really long six-year relationship and walking into a new relationship.

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 fight for the kazoo.

I think they’re excited for her to be in a relationship, but I think a little worried that he’s going to be around all the time. But I think ultimately they’re pretty supportive of it. I think one line we cut out was like, “Maybe he’ll tire her out,” or something …. I don’t know if that’s in there anymore.

On casting Zooey as Jess

Liz: 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 like a complicated character that has a lot of different layers, and I don’t really, you know what I mean, I don’t— I’ve definitely seen some of the, I guess, criticism, but I haven’t really understood where it’s coming from totally.

I think I was really just writing about myself, and so my main goal is just to give her, give Zooey, really fun, interesting things to do every week, and then just be really honest with myself about the character and really just present an interesting, funny female character on television. Yes. I don’t know.

On the increase in female lead and written comedies

Liz: Yes, I think probably with Bridesmaids and there’s just sort of a feeling, I think, of more trust from the people in charge that women actually want to see shows and movies that are written and created by women as opposed to sort of shows created by men that women are just supposed to like. I feel like that trust just from a business sense is really important for empowering more women creators of shows.

On the Thanksgiving episode

Liz: There are definitely some surprises in store. Yes, I think the episode is available for you guys to watch, but yes, we have some kind of crazy things that happen in the episode that I’m personally excited to show. I mean there is a turkey in the clothes dryer if that entices you—if you’ve always wanted to see what would happen if a turkey were in a dryer then you should tune in.

On how much of herself there is in the leading actors

Liz: I feel like there’s a part of me in all of them. Maybe not the model of character, but yes, I think originally Jess was based on me, and it was sort of me writing about my male friends that I could have looked around and saw that I had a lot of guy friends and was wondering why that was and what I went to them for that I didn’t go to my girl friends for. And yes, I think I also am super awkward sometimes and occasionally sing to myself and I’m occasionally a douche bag and I do like to hide in hooded zip up sweatshirts and I’ve never played professional basketball in Lafayette, but I’m considering it.

But yes, I think on a more serious note, I think what was really important for us was really making sure that all of the characters felt real and that the show felt real, and we’ve really made that our focus, I think, with all the episodes and sort of the stories and what’s actually going on in the character’s lives. It was really important to us that the audiences could emotionally connect with the characters and really believe that these are real people that are going through these real events in their lives. So I think that really came from my experiences and the experiences of our writing staff, although I don’t think anyone has put a turkey in a dryer.

On the family lives of the characters

Liz: We definitely might go into their family stories. I feel like there is so much comedy in who Jess’ parents are and who Schmidt’s parents are and who Nick’s. We’re definitely going to do that. We don’t have anything lined up right now, but it’s sort of constantly discussing it in the writer’s room so I’m hoping that that will happen soon. I’m really interested in Schmidt’s bunny costumes and his mother’s experiences.
That’s it for the interview. We hope you saw the fabulous Thanksgiving episode yesterday, and tune in to FOX next week for an an all new episode at 9/8c.

[Note from Jenny: Sorry this is up late! Megan had it ready for me yesterday, but I totally spaced that it was on last night and just was busy with other stuff. My apologies!]

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