If every freshman comedy was greeted by the kind of buzz that surrounded last year’s launch of NEW GIRL, there’d be a slew of accidental 9-1-1 calls about killer bee attacks in Hollywood. We sat down with creator Liz Meriwether to find out what it’s like to create that kind of phenomenon… and how she plans to top herself with Season Two!
When you were putting the show together, did you kind of know that it was going to be big?
LIZ MERIWETHER: No, I didn’t. I mean, I guess only an asshole would say “yes,” but I really didn’t. It’s just exciting, and I’m really happy to be here and happy that it’s working and I hope it keeps working. Every day, it can still fall apart. Writing is really humbling. Everything can be happening, and then you sit in front of a blank screen, and you’re back to square one. Every day, you’re kind of hoping it keeps working!
Is writing episodes easier or harder now that the show has become a success?
MERIWETHER: What’s exciting is that I feel like I know the characters really well now, and I’m having an easier time making decisions about them and what’s going on with their lives. Which is exciting, because it makes my job more fun. Last year, we had a lot of conversations about would this character do that, who is the character, what is the show? This year, it’s more like we just get to kind of focus on telling the best and funniest stories. So yeah, it’s made my job a little easier.
It was kind of easy to predict that Zooey Deschanel (Jess) would be embraced by the masses. But were you surprised at how wildly popular Max Greenfield’s Schmidt became?
MERIWETHER: Really surprised! But as soon as I saw Max audition, I knew. There was an article in Slate last year about how he was this crazy modern man or something, and I find that sad for America! But it was really exciting to put that character on the air every week. It’s really fun, and he’s such a great character to write for, because he can say and do anything. He’s horrible and wonderful, which is the best kind of character to write for.
What were you most proud of about Season One?
MERIWETHER: In terms of the best thing we did, I think it would have to be exposing America to Max’s minuscule nipples! You might have missed them if you didn’t have your magnifying glass, because they’re really weirdly small. I guess that’s a genetic [byproduct of] being really funny.
Interesting. Anything you wish you could change about Season One?
MERIWETHER: I don’t think we got into the character of Winston as deeply as we should have, and I’m excited to get into that this year. Last season, I learned a lot about who the actors are, what I can do and what the writing staff can do. On the first season of a show, every day you’re learning more and more.
Tell us a little bit about Season Two.
MERIWETHER: What’s exciting is that Jess loses her teaching job in the first episode as a result of budget cuts. She’s laid off. And what’s been really exciting about this season’s first batch of episodes is that she’s completely unhinged. She’s having to re-learn who she is, what she wants to do and what she wants to do in her life. Jess unhinged is hilarious.
Now that NEW GIRL is part of the Tuesday comedy lineup, any crossovers you’d love to make happen?
MERIWETHER: It’s an exciting night! I think there’s great stuff on all those shows. They’re awesome, and it’s exciting that the whole night is comedy this year! We could do some really fun crossover episodes where Jess goes to the gynaecologist who happens to be THE MINDY PROJECT’s Mindy. Jess doesn’t have a job, so perhaps she could babysit for BEN & KATE. We can create a daycare center with the kids from BEN & KATE and RAISING HOPE! I’ve got all kinds of ideas!
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