If the season 6 finale of New Girl was not the series finale, where do we go from here?
SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched the season 6 finale of New Girl, “Five Stars for Beezus.”
It looks like everyone got their happy ending on the season 6 finale of New Girl — so is New Girl ending? And if it’s not, where do we go from here?
After watching that tied-up-in-a-bow season ender that saw Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) finally rekindle their romance, Cece (Hannah Simone) and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) expecting, Winston (Lamorne Morris) call his father with Aly’s (Nasim Pedrad) help, and a whole bunch of hat-tips to the first episode — complete with Jess moving out of the loft! — we had to get executive producers Dave Finkel and Brett Baer on the phone to answer those two burning questions … and a few others.
That really felt like a series finale. Are we running this interview now and just going to get an official answer about renewal Wednesday?
BRETT BAER: We hope so but we doubt it. The truth is we really, really don’t know what the answer is. The general scuttlebutt is good and positive that we will be coming back.
DAVE FINKEL: Even if for a short order.
BAER: But that hasn’t happened yet so we’re not holding anything back from you either, honestly.
FINKEL: They’re not telling us to tear the sets down, we’re not clearing out our offices, so we really — we tell the crew, we’ve told the actors — we legitimately know nothing.
BAER: We just keep hearing, “Be prepared to come back,” which is better than the alternative. In regard to the finale, Dave and I have been down this road before with a show called The United States of Tara … so we had to do the same thing, which is come up with a season finale that could serve as an adequate and satisfying, perfectly legitimate series finale should it be, but also leave the door open for coming back to do more. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk and a hard one, but we did our best.
At what point did you decide to really go all-in this time and throw all these callbacks from the pilot into it?
FINKEL: We knew that there was a potential for both things so we wanted to make sure we put everything as possible in the episode but also left plenty to play with for the future.
BAER: At the same time, we also were on the phone with the network and the studio pitching them our season 7, which they were really excited about and are really into and liked all of our ideas, so I would say even until maybe last Friday [March 24] when this episode had to lock, we were still kind of playing and moving pieces around in terms of what we were calling back to or what direction we were going to lean. There was a coda we shot that we didn’t use because it definitely had more of an [end]. … And the studio and the network didn’t ask for that coda either, which to me was an indication that there might be more to come. Some of those callbacks are decisions we made very, very late in the postproduction schedule or in the editing room. For example, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” on the radio.
So what was in the coda?
BAER: The coda sort of picked up on the pregnancy stuff and it was a group scene with the baby that kind of felt a little bit more …
Was that a time jump then?
FINKEL: Yes, it was nine months forward.
So if you’re greenlit for season 7, where does it go from here?
FINKEL: Obviously, Jess and Nick ended where they ended and we want to look at that and figure out how to make that play in some more interesting way. I think there’s still stuff that has to be done with all the characters. Nick, as an example, has grown so much and gotten to a place where he’s become sort of successful. He’s the one character over the course of the series that I think required the most growth and where he is now is exciting, but I don’t think we’ve mined as much as we could possibly mine out of it. In a world where Schmidt and Cece and Winston and Jess have all sort of found the thing that they’ve been looking for, at least in their work lives, that Nick’s still on his road is interesting. I think there’s a lot of fun to be had there.
BAER: For me, because Winston’s story this year really surrounded the engagement and his relationship with Aly, I would like to get back to doing some more work stories for Winston. I’d like to see what he’s like getting promoted at work and becoming a detective — I think that would be fun. I think that it’d be really, really fun — the way that it was fun to see Schmidt as a bridezilla — to see Schmidt as a helicopter daddy for his child and see what he’s like as a father. When you talk about the full evolution of a character, going from the douchebag jar and taking his shirt off during the interview with Jess in the pilot, to a guy who’s now married and in a wonderful relationship living in his own home and facing parenthood — I think those are fun things to play with as well.
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Let’s talk about that final moment in the elevator: I was very happy that the doors opened, but had there been debate about leaving them closed?
FINKEL: Oh yeah! There was like seven different cuts of that scene.
BAER: We cut that every which way from Sunday …. In the end, I think we all felt that just organically was the most powerful, the most right, the most complete and also the one that gave us the best jumping off point for wherever we go from here.
Were there any discussions about bringing back Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) or any other recurring characters for this episode?
FINKEL: We talked a lot about that and scheduling is what it is, it just became very difficult. There was thought of having him in that coda.
BAER: One of the tricks of this last episode is that because of Zooey’s pregnancy, we decided to shoot it early. We actually shot most of it back in January and then picked up additional pieces along the way over the last three weeks. We just wanted to make sure that Zooey was going to be in the finale in case, for some reason, she had the baby early or whatever, that we weren’t going to lose her to mommyhood and we wanted to make sure that we got as much of her in that final episode — especially considering the circumstances. That made some of those decisions a little harder for us because we quickly made that decision and had to leap into the finale and kind of also know what was leading up to those points.
Would Rhonda (Sonequa Martin-Green) be invited to Winston and Aly’s wedding?
FINKEL: She’s so f—ing dangerous! As a passive viewer, I would enjoy it. I think she’s hilarious and love their dynamic. The fact that he thinks even in the most ridiculous of circumstances, when she brings him the baby, that he gets that that’s brilliant is such a weird dynamic, but it seems right for the character.
Would you ever publish The Pepperwood Chronicles as an actual book?
BAER: Absolutely. If they wanted to do it, I’m sure we would.
FINKEL: I feel like it’s a story we could probably write in about of day. That’s the quality of Nick’s writing.
BAER: I think some of the most fun anybody on this show who’s a writer has ever had has been pitching Pepperwood-isms and Pepperwood paragraphs and sentences. We’ve got mountains and mountains of material that have been pitched over the last five or six years, and it’s all hilarious.
If this really were the end, what would be the parting words you’d want to say to the fans?
BAER: Thank you for being a part of this wild, crazy roller coaster of a show and being as passionate about all of our characters.
FINKEL: Thank you. We listened and we took the temperature of our audience and sometimes we heard it better than others.
Again, if this were the end, do you feel like you accomplished the mission you set out to accomplish at the beginning and told the story you wanted to tell?
FINKEL: I think the thing we wanted to do from the very beginning, whether it was a spoken or unspoken thing, was tell organic stories that guide themselves. So sometimes the stories would be big and broad because that’s the way the story wanted to unfold, and in other moments, they’ll be really intimate and almost dramatic. I think that that was sort of the thing that we all wanted to do from the word go: make stories that felt interesting first and that just happened to be really funny along the way.
BAER: That being said, we love these characters and I think we all feel like we have so many more stories to tell, so we’re very hopeful.