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Q & A with New Girl’s Creator & Executive Producer Liz Meriwether

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During last week’s episode of New Girl, the popular series shook things up with Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick’s (Jake Johnson) first kiss. Tonight’s episode, “Table 34″ addresses the kiss that left the show’s audience and main character speechless.

Last week, New Girl’s creator, executive producer, and writer Liz Meriwether spoke with various media outlets about the now-infamous kiss. She discussed the decision behind having Jess and Nick finally kiss, how the kiss will affect the dynamic in the loft with Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Winston (Lamorne Morris), and of course, what’s next for Jess and Nick and the rest of the season.

NEW GIRL: Nick (Jake Johnson, R) expresses his feelings for Jess (Zooey Deschanel, L), redefining their relationship as roommates and friends in the "Cooler" episode of NEW GIRL that aired Tuesday, Jan. 29 (9:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

 

I guess the biggest question is what happens next? Because clearly Jess is still with Dr. Sam and Nick has pretty much thrown the gauntlet down, so where does he go?

We pick up right where this episode left off. Sort of like a continuation of that night and it just obviously rocks Jess’ world and Nick starts freaking out about what he’s done and they both are just grappling with how they continue as friends the way they were. It’s not something that’s easy for them to do, and it definitely pushes Jess into a place with Sam where she has to, I don’t know, deal with whether or not this really is something that she wants to be in. You know, if the relationship with Sam is really what she wants to do.

Some of that gets resolved next week, and it’s a really fun episode, where we also end up in an Indian marriage convention with Cece trying to meet an Indian guy to marry. All of it’s kind of crazy.

Nick made his move relatively quickly. I know you have said before, and other people have said before, that Jess and Nick wouldn’t happen in the second season or anything. Why didn’t you draw it out longer?

It just felt right. I mean, we’ve sort of gotten to a place where it felt like organically in their relationship something like this could happen. I mean, we spent the season watching them get closer and closer as friends.

The original draft of last night’s episode didn’t have them kissing and then we, you know, it was a really good script and we went to table as a draft of the script without them kissing and then we just all sort of looked at each other and felt like it sort of felt right. It also felt like if we didn’t have them kiss, it was kind of like pulling our punches; like we were not really being try to the characters in this moment. I think we were all ready for Nick to kind of step up to the plate and have a moment of confidence, whether or not it was the trench coat or not.

So how are Winston and Schmidt going to react, because things could get really awkward around the loft really fast.

Yes, I mean that’s also a big part of the episode after – not next week, but the week after is sort of a big, like the loft just dealing with all of it. Schmidt digs up a “no nail” oath that they all took when she moved into the loft where they all agree not to nail her. And that, obviously, has repercussions throughout.

Obviously Jess is mad about it and Schmidt is just like dealing with the fact that the loft dynamics have changed in his view. It’s been fun to write, because it’s definitely forced all the characters into really strong positions, and instead of taking any tension out of the series, I think it’s really actually ignited and helped us to focus it. Obviously Winston and Schmidt have really strong opinions about everything and so they come down pretty hard against it, which is really fun to track.

I’m curious how Cece is going to take the news and what she’s going to think of the whole thing?

I think she’s definitely excited. I think the big thing is actually how Jess is processing the news and Cece’s kind of there to support her. Jess, I think, her mind is totally spinning and so Cece is just trying to be there for her friend and help her figure it out.

And what’s coming up for Cece and Schmidt?

[Cece’s] very much still determined to get arrange married, and in next week’s episode, she’s really fighting her attraction to Schmidt. After hearing about the kiss from Jess reminded her how much she misses sex after like spending a couple of months going on dates set up by her mother and is really fighting her urge to jump Schmidt’s bones.

I think that they’re still really struggling with their feelings towards each other even though they both keep trying to move on. That is definitely something that we are going to follow to the end of the season, just to see if Cece is going to take this all the way through and get married.

I actually really loved Brenda Song’s cameo on the show and I just wanted to know how much more she’s going to be featured in the season and where that’s going with her and Winston?

Yes, that was the other kiss of the night. Yes, she is awesome. We has such a great time with her on the show and she is definitely sticking around and she is not in next week’s episode but the episode after.

I mean, she has such a great dynamic with Lamorne and she’s so funny and we love her character being really hard on him. The way we see her character is sort of just like tough love, almost coach for Winston, and she’s been really funny in that, and we’re hoping that she sticks around for awhile. She’s great.

What can you share about the rest of the season?

Well, we’re going to have a lot of awesome episodes coming. I mean, the rest of the season, this is like a really huge sort of thing that’s happened, and I think the rest of the season is really dealing with, not every episode is about what happened, but I think a lot of the subtext has come up to the surface and that’s been really fun to write for because there’s a lot of tension that’s out in the open and everyone’s trying to figure out where they stand.

I think Nick and Jess, in particular, are trying to figure out how they feel about each other. There are a lot of obstacles for them. They don’t have the kind of relationship where anything is easy. I mean, they’re always at odds. They’re very different people and they are attracted to each other, but that doesn’t solve a lot of the problems that they have of just like Nick never showering and Jess is like effervescence and optimism in the face of Nick’s like hatred of the world and people.

A lot of that stuff hasn’t been resolved and I think the rest of the season is really like them fighting their feelings and fighting their attraction and trying to figure out what they really want out of each other. It’s been really fun to write for and really fun to watch on set. The actors have been really great in sort of embracing this new dynamic.

Are Nick and Jess actually going to become a couple or is something going to get in the way before that happens?

They are definitely not ready to be a couple. I think they’re really sort of struggling with their feelings for each other. I think this came out of the blue and surprised both of them and I think they’re like struggling to deal with if they want to be a couple and how each one of them feels. Obviously Jess is in a relationship and they live together and Nick is like kind of a screw up, I guess, is a polite way of saying it.

I think there’s a lot of stuff that they need to get through and figure out. And what this did, though, is just acknowledge the fact that they have this amazing sort of pull with each other and they’re just really attracted to each other. I think that really complicates a lot of the conflict that they were sort of always dealing with. I think what’s cool is that we get to tell a modern story about two people coming together and they don’t think that a lot of time one kiss leads to an immediate relationship. I think there is a lot of like messy kind of back and forth in between that, and I feel like they’re in this really messy, fun back and forth, push pull moment in their friendship.





 

What was it like filming the kiss on set?

It was really fun. We were obviously kind of wondering how it was going to be. I mean, we decided that they were going to kiss and we told Zooey and Jake and Zooey and Jake were excited about it, because they felt their characters had come to a place where it felt like it was the right thing to do. And all the producers came to set for that scene and we all sort of looked at each other and we’re like, “I hope this works.”

It was the last day of shooting, right before the holidays, and so it was sort of like this perfect end to the first half of our season of shooting. They just kissed and the entire crew applauded. We were all kind of just freaking out behind the monitor, because it just felt like such and exciting kiss and it was just really fun to watch on set.

It made me feel like I hadn’t been kissed correctly in my life. I was like, “I got to be kissed like that.” It was a really fun, great thing to watch. It was a great moment on set.

Aside from Nick and Jess kissing, why do you think the show has resonated so well with viewers?

I think you can see in last night’s episode there’s just this amazing chemistry between all the actors. I think there’s a great ensemble show, we have this great ensemble, and every is just sort of in an amazing zone right now. There’s a lot of just like joy, I think, and fun between them. They all, in real life, really like each other a lot and you can just, I don’t know, you can just tell that everybody is giving a lot to each other and to the show.

I really think that real sense of friendship between them resonates and they’re just all really hot and funny, which is weird because those things don’t usually go together. I don’t know.

New Girl airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on FOX.

Watch a clip from tonight’s episode, “Table 34,” below.





 

Photo credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

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About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is an Entertainment Writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has interviewed a variety of people from across the entertainment spectrum, including singer-songwriter/Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas, Andrew Dost from the Grammy Award-winning band fun., singer-songwriter Christina Perri, and acclaimed writer-director Derek Cianfrance.