New Girl could have wrapped at the end of Season 6, but producers successfully got the show through its first on-the-bubble situation by lobbying for a final season, shot forward three years “to throw in new storylines and move things forward,” creator Elizabeth Meriwether told TV critics at TCA. The final eight episodes are “a love letter to the fans.”
So, for instance, the baby Cece (Hannas Simone) and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) were expecting at the wrap of Season 6 is now three-years-old, and Schmidt is a stay-at-home “helicopter parent” trying to figure out a way he can get rid of all responsibility in his life and dedicate all his focus to the child, Greenfield said.
Cast and producers were coy about some details of the final batch of episodes. Winston (Lamorne Morris) and Aly (guest star Nasim Pedrad) got engaged at the end of Season 6; JB Smoove will play Winston’s dad for the final episodes. Season 6 also closed with Jess (Deschanel) telling Nick (Jake Johnson) of her true feelings for him. Three years later, Jess “has been a witness in a federal – I don’t know how much I can give away,” the actress said. “She hasn’t been working for a few years,” but has gone on some literary tours with Nick, Deschanel said.
The final batch of episodes also features the death of “a pretty main cast member,” Hannah Simone added, off-handedly.
“We got it all,” Deschanel joked.
One critic asked what Ferguson the cat is up to, three years into the future. “Oh, he’s just chilling,” Morris said, evasively.
“We can’t say,” added Meriwether, causing the critic to ask directly, “Is he the dead character?”
Meriwether said he was not, but without conviction.
One TV critic wondered if New Girl could successfully be pitched in the #MeToo age and, if so, would it have a “different take.” Meriwether and Deschanel turned the tables on TV critics, talking instead about their coverage of the series back then.
“I remember when we first premiered, it was a year where there were a lot of shows with female showrunners – and there were lots of stories written about the show,” Meriwether reminded. At the time, she said she wondered, “‘Wait, why is that a story, that I’m a woman and I’m running a show? Seven years later I don’t think that’s the story. That would be an odd story.”
Deschanel chimed in sarcastically about the show having a female lead: “That’s CRAZY! There’s a WOMAN in it! Wow, there are three shows that have women characters! I can’t believe this trend – three shows that have women in them!”
Deschanel reminded the room that she got flak back then for her character being “feminine,” and that she got asked in interviews “Can you be feminine and be a feminist?”
Fox has slotted 9:30 PM Tuesday, April 10, for the premiere of the eight-episode seventh and final season, culminating in a one-hour finale at 9 PM Tuesday, May 15.
In addition to Pedrad, 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. In addition to Smoove, Tig Notaro also will make a series debut in a guest-starring role.
New Girl has been an important show for Fox and sibling 20th TV. It became the first big SVOD sale of a current broadcast comedy series to Netflix for a reported $900,000 an episode, and six seasons in, continues to be Fox’s highest-rated comedy series.