Whos that girl? Its Jess Day, who is moving on to bigger and better things.
Tonight, Fox aired the final two episodes of New Girl, the Elizabeth Meriwether comedy starring Zooey Deschanel, which ran for seven seasons and was among the networks most notable series at 146 episodes and five Primetime Emmy noms. Arriving on air on September 20, 2011, New Girl followed Jess (Deschanel), an offbeat young woman who, after a bad breakup, moved into an apartment loft with three idiosyncratic, single men—Schmidt (Max Greenfield), Winston (Lamorne Morris) and future love interest Nick (Jake Johnson).
The first of tonights episodes, “The Curse of the Pirate Bride,” catches up with the newly-engaged Nick and Jess—following oh-so-many episodes of “Will they, Wont They?”—as they prepare to get married, and are savagely roasted by Winston and Schmitt with their typically off-kilter comedic timing. Caught in bed together by Jesss mother, Joan Day (Jamie Lee Curtis), on the morning of their big day, Nick and Jess are told that they may have just cursed their own wedding. The couple then sees evidence of this everywhere, as Jess falls flat on her face, scratching her cornea; Russell (Dermot Mulroney) makes one last pass at Jess; and Nicks new book is rejected.
In the midst of all these antics, the episode culminates in new life, as Aly (Nasim Pedrad)s water breaks and Winston sees his first child brought into the world, with a name only he could love. To cap it all off, Nick and Jess are wed in the hospital, surrounded by plenty of familiar faces.
While “The Curse of the Pirate Bride” brings most of the action, series finale “Engram Pattersky” plays as an epilogue. As Jess coaxes her former roommates and best friend Cece (Hannah Simone) into reminiscing on the past and playing one last game of True American, we see flash-forwards to a time when the gang is surrounded by their own progeny—and, in the greatest payoff of the series, Winston finally pulls off one of his elaborate pranks.
Bringing back even the series most obscure characters—including Steve Agees “Outside Dave” and Ralph Ahns silent “Tran”—the final two episodes of New Girls final eight-episode season are as fine a send-off as one could hope to see. Before tonights finale aired, Deadline caught up with Deschanel to discuss her thoughts on the series conclusion, where Jess ends up and the possibility of future endeavors behind the camera.
DEADLINE: How have you felt, seeing the final season of New Girl progress toward its conclusion?
Deschanel: Its good. Weve been working on the show for such a long time, and its hard to make this many episodes of a show. Its like a real feat, and Im very proud of having done such a huge volume of television. But it was definitely time to move on to other things. Its bittersweet because I miss all my friends, and I loved everybody that I worked with so much.
DEADLINE: In the series finale, “Engram Pattersky,” Jess gets very nostalgic and sentimental. Would you consider yourself similar in how you take in the end of a chapter?
Deschanel: Yeah. You know, Im still so close to it that I dont feel as nostalgic now, but Im sure if you talk to me in a year, Ill be full nostalgia.
DEADLINE: What spurred the decision to end the series with a shortened eight-episode season? What was your feeling about that?
Deschanel: We all wanted to come back and give the show a proper send-off, and we werent sure if we were going to get to because we were kind of hanging in the balance there at the end of Season 6, and we werent sure if the end of that was going to be our last. But also, to add on top of that, both Hannah [Simone] and I were pregnant during Season 6, so we needed to come back later because of the babies and everything. So, that just ended up being the perfect solution to everything, that wed give it a proper send-off, wed have eight episodes, wed get to say goodbye, but it wouldnt be like a full 22-episode season.
DEADLINE: When it came to the finale, were any alternate endings discussed? Certainly, the ending as it stands is very apropos.
Deschanel: Not that I know of. That would be a question probably for one of the writers, but as far as I know, this was where it was going.
DEADLINE: What were your thoughts on where Jess and her friends ended up?
Deschanel: I liked it. I thought there was another version that couldve been a little bit more dark—not like dark, horrible, but it was always kind of like, do Nick and Jess end up together? I thought there couldve been a version where they dont, and its more bittersweet. But I love this version, too. Its more in the realm of the romantic comedy that I think this show really probably is at its heart.
DEADLINE: Theres a suggestion of their future in the finale. Do you think thats explicitly intended as a flash-forward, or could that be a fantasized version of whats to come?
Deschanel: I dont know. I mean, I dont know where theyll end up. Part of the fun thing is that people get to imagine that, you know?
DEADLINE: What has New Girl meant for you in your creative life, having spent the last seven years working on this series?
Deschanel: Its kind of like high school, where its this thing that has been a constant in my life for seven years. Its been with me [as] I got married, I had two kids, and all these people, Ive become close with— the cast and the crew. Its been kind of like the center of my life for so long, so its really important for me, personally as well as professionally.
DEADLINE: Having done a lot of exceptional film work, what has been most notable about working in the television arena?
Deschanel: TV has changed so much even since we started New Girl. When we started, there were like two or three cable networks that would do shorter-run seasons, but it was really rare that those shows got made, and it was mostly network stuff, and you did long seasons with a lot of episodes, and you write as you go. Now, TV is a whole other thing, where theyll do eight episodes, 10 episodes; they can be as long or short as they want. Theres a lot more creative freedom in television now; its kind of going through a renaissance.
When we started, there were a lot of parameters that sort of stayed with us— a lot of parameters that are defining the tone of the show. That was an interesting challenge coming from film, where you have a lot more freedom. TV is totally different now, but the network TV model, it was an interesting challenge to work within that.
DEADLINE: Is it exciting to think about working in this new era of TV, where so much has changed?
Deschanel: I need a little break, but yeah. I think there are a lot more possibilities. If youre tired of doing one thing—like comedy, or something—then theres so many other things you can do. So, its a cool time for television.
DEADLINE: You directed an episode of New Girl that aired in 2016. Have you given thought to directing again, or creating your own series?
Deschanel: Id love to do something like that. Right now, creatively, its like when you spend so much time doing one thing, personally, I need to decompress a little bit, just so that I can feel inspiration for the next thing—and I know that that inspiration will come. But you kind of have to be patient and wait for it, because if you dont, then you just end up throwing yourself into something, and its not necessarily the most authentic thing.
DEADLINE: Do you think youll look to film next, or return to TV? Or try to do a bit of both?
Deschanel: Both, everything. But Ive been working totally separately on a company [The Farm Project] that I started with my husband thats all focused on sustainable farming. Its a fun challenge in a completely different area.
DEADLINE: And you have music as well, with your band She & Him and your upcoming Beauty and the Beast concert at the Hollywood Bowl.
Deschanel: Yes, exactly—so theres a lot to do.
DEADLINE: Coming off of New Girl, what are your thoughts on opportunities for women in entertainment, behind the camera and on screen?
Deschanel:I think its great, everything thats happened in the last however many years. Even since we started New Girl, theres been such a huge shift, and efforts to make these female voices heard. I think thats really great, and I think you need to put energy and effort toward those things to make them happen. I think its wonderful that people are supporting females and wanting to hear those stories.