[Spoilers follow for Tuesday's season six finale of New Girl, "Five Stars for Beezus."]
Tuesday's sixth-season finale of New Girl will be remembered in one of two very different ways. Though the possibility of a seventh (and likely final) season of the Fox comedy is still on the table, creator and showrunner Liz Meriwether tells The Hollywood Reporter that her marching orders were to write an episode that could satisfyingly serve as the end of her series.
If that's it for New Girl, longtime viewers will be left with several lingering questions - but enough resolution to not bombard Fox mailboxes with Douchebag Jars. The episode revealed that two characters were expecting a baby and that central duo Nick and Jess (played by Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel) had rekindled the romance the show put on hold back in season three.
Meriwether, who is currently filming a pilot for another potential Fox comedy, says that she'd be happy if this is how it all ends - with a parting shot of Nick and Jess kissing in an elevator - though she's hoping for more. She spoke with THR about the decision-making that went into the pseudo-finale, where she sees New Girl going from here and the show's first true moment of uncertainty since it premiered in 2011.
Was that a season finale or a series finale?
It's up to the network now. We were told to prepare for both versions, so we decided to create a finale that we would be happy with either way - and just hope for a season seven. It's tricky. We wanted to end the show in a way that made sense for the fans and us, but also leave the door open for another season. If I had known this was definitely the end, I don't know that everything would be exactly the same in the episode. But I feel like we did a good job in the situation that we were in.
Do you feel like season seven is a possibility?
We love the show and we love the cast. It's just fun to write for them. Even if it feels like we've maybe backed ourselves into a corner with Nick and Jess getting back together again, I still feel like there's a lot we can do with the characters. For the last six years, I've always known what my next year is going to look like. This is the first time that I have really no idea. There's a version where both the pilot and the show go away. (Laughs.) I'm just putting my head down and working and hoping we get an answer soon.
Where do you see the show going if the seventh season happens?
What excites me is that it would probably be our last - and that we would know that going into it. We could have a little bit more time to figure out an ending of the show. Any version of Schmidt and Cece, whether we jump ahead and they already have the baby or we follow the pregnancy, would be really funny to me. I love these characters, and it's fun seeing them slowly progress into adulthood. Hopefully we could get Nasim [Pedrad] back. I love her and Lamorne [Morris] together. There's a lot of fun there. The Nick and Jess thing is a continuing riddle. Our writers are amazing, and I know we'll figure something out. We've thrown this cast a lot of insane stuff over the years. I trust them to keep mining these characters.
You managed to write a sitcom about twentysomethings and thirtysomethings for almost six full seasons without a single pregnancy storyline. That might be a first.
We made it six years! (Laughs.) We debated it a lot. Dumb antics can get less funny when you're a parent. But I think there's a lot of comedy there. And it means they'll have to do a little more growing up in the seventh season. The idea of Schmidt being a helicopter parent was making us laugh a lot. There was a lot of discussion in the writers room about how much we wanted to actually talk about the process of them trying to get pregnant. We decided it would be better as a surprise. If there's a season seven, I'm excited to tell that story.
You were very vocal about the need to put the breaks on the Nick and Jess relationship earlier in the series. Did you always see this season ending with them back together?
Going into the year, knowing we had Megan Fox, our plan was to use that relationship to create distance between Jess and Nick. We'd been back and forth on it for a lot of seasons, so it just felt like the right time - especially after ending last season with Jess realizing she had feelings for him again. You could probably only get a season out of that one-sided affection.
Do you have any plans for how it will play out if the show continues?
We learned a lot from season three, which people had mixed feelings about. (Laughs.) The characters have changed, and it would be a different relationship if we end up keeping them together. We're talking about a lot of different options for season seven. I wouldn't want to say that we have any kind of specific plan, because we don't. There's some wild pitches, and some less wild ones.
Last week's episode revealed that Schmidt has a first name - and it's Winston. At what point did you figure that out?
We made up our minds about two years ago and just held it. At first we were just going to mention it, but then it occurred to us that it could be a really funny episode. So we really went for it. I honestly don't remember who pitched it being Winston, but as soon as I heard it, I knew it had to be that. It was actually a relief to know. In a show where we haven't known a lot of things about where we were going, we've known this for years.
I don't think I've ever even thought about it.
The trickiest part was the wedding. I remember making the invitations, we had to put his fingers over his name. Then there was the concern that if we showed the wedding on camera, we'd have to have him say his name during the vows. But you don't really notice. I got a couple tweets from people who didn't even realize we'd never said it. For the super fans, it was an issue.
Nick's novel was a big part of this season. Is there a master text to The Pepperwood Chronicles?
Over the years we've pitched on it and made sure it's super crazy, but there are so many jokes and parts of it that we ended up cutting. I think we really need to go through to see what the audience has seen of what's in the book. The writers room has pitched just so many versions of it. At one point, there was a section of it being in "the land of the dead." But it stopped being a zombie book after Nick came back from New Orleans.
The pilot you just wrote takes place in Antarctica. Can I assume you're not shooting there?
We did a day in Mammoth to get snow, but the rest of it is in L.A. It's been lot of trying to be creative with greenscreens and learning how to work around it. We actually found this warehouse in San Pedro that sort of looks like Antarctica, weirdly. So we're going to do a lot of exteriors there. I mean, a lot of Antarctica is people inside, anyway.