“I’m not going to miss that word,” Meriwether admitted. “That’s the one thing.”
Meriwether created the Zooey Deschanel series, which concludes its run Tuesday night (after seven seasons and 146 episodes) with two final back-to-back episodes. The show was an instant success when it premiered in 2011, and early on was remembered for that Fox marketing tagline — calling Deschanel’s character, Jess, “adorkable.”
As “New Girl” ends, the first of the two episodes deals with the long-awaited wedding between Jess and Nick (Jake Johnson). But this being “New Girl,” things don’t go off without a hitch. Fearful that her big day is cursed, Jess may be right: Just about everything that could go wrong does.
She slips in the bathroom and falls on a dog toy, scratching her cornea — forcing her to wear an eye patch. She gets high and grabs a fistful of wedding cake. And Aly (Nasim Pedrad) goes into labor in the middle of everything.
Jess wearing an eye patch — the episode’s title is “The Curse of the Pirate Bride” — may seem over-the-top, but it’s inspired by Meriwether’s real-life marriage.
“I scratched my eye two days before my wedding,” she said. “It was this big red scratch, so I went to my mom’s eye doctor in New York, and he was like the thing to do was to put a patch over it and rest your eye for a day. So I went to the drug store and I got an eye patch. For a day before my wedding I wore an eye patch around New York City.
“It was a crazy, very funny thing to happen right before you’re getting married. So when we were pitching how we were going to do the wedding, that thought came up,” she said. “While it was happening, I was thinking, ‘well, this is an episode.’ It wasn’t surprising to me that we ended up there.”
That’s where the similarities end — Meriwether didn’t have do wear the eye patch during her actual ceremony. “And I wasn’t high for my wedding. It all turned out OK.”
As for ending “New Girl,” Meriwether admits a bit of sadness in ending the series, but she’s happy that Fox gave the show a final eight-episode send-off.
“If we had abruptly ended that would be harder for me,” she said. “After seven years these characters are like family for me in a way, and it was really meaningful to say goodbye to all their stories and set them off on a happy note. So many amazing people work on the show, and there’s the actual writing of the show that I’m going to miss, and then there’s the people that I see every day that also became my family. That’s been hard. I’m still processing but I’m in a good place about it.”
A lot has changed in the TV industry since the premiere of “New Girl,” which also stars Max Greenfield (Schmidt), Hannah Simone (Cece) and Lamorne Morris (Winston). Meriwether remembered how Fox launched the show by premiering the episode first online, which seemed like a real gamble at the time.
“It was a huge deal, and everybody was like, why would anyone watch it if they’ve already seen it?” she noted.
Netflix was also just ramping up to do original programming back then, and in some ways “New Girl” was a bridge between how shows used to be produced, and where things now stand.
“I’m proud that we had 25-episode seasons and that we ran for seven years, because it feels like that’s not going to happen as much anymore,” she said. “It was really hard and I’m proud we got a chance to do it. That being said, I’m excited to do short-order streaming. That will be exciting to me.”
Meriwether and “New Girl” writer JJ Philbin are currently working on a new pilot about single parents. But will a reboot be in the cards down the line? “I think I’ll be ready in like a year,” Meriwether said with a laugh. “I’ll just wait by the phone.”
At least some of the cast joke that they’re game: “If we do it in two years, I’d like to see it as a multi-cam, and I’d like Max Greenfield to direct the pilot,” Johnson said.
Responded Greenfield: “And the first thing I’d do is fire Jake.”
The final two episodes of “New Girl” air on Tuesday, May 15, at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.