Back in 2011, FOX didn’t have quite the impressive comedy slate that it currently does. When news hit that a comedy starring Zooey Deschanel would be debuting on the network, many people were skeptical of the merits of this program.
Elizabeth Meriwether’s New Girl would prove to be a success in its inaugural season, but throughout the years, it’s turned into a strong comedy that’s not only one of the funniest programs on FOX, but also on television in general.
Over the course of six seasons, the show has turned cast members Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, and Lamorne Morris into breakout comedy stars who are now popping up all over the place. Furthermore, Deschanel has proven that she can anchor a comedy and that she has some legitimate talents in the area.
New Girl is without a doubt one of the more optimistic and cheerful comedies on television. In spite of that, though, this doesn’t mean that the show is without its drama or that there isn’t a turmoil of behind the scenes.
With that said, here are the 16 Secrets You Didn’t Know Behind New Girl.
16 The Series Has Been Sued Over Stealing The Original Premise
Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold claim that the New Girl pilot was stolen from the premise of their proposed show Square One. Square One tells a very similar story to New Girl. It involves a woman who is ousted from her home and needs to move in with a bunch of bachelors.
Clearly the two share very similar concepts, but it’s not as if that idea is that groundbreaking to begin with. A program like this comes down to the characters and the writing.
Counts and Gold claim that they shopped the project through William Morris Endeavor with Deschanel as the proposed lead, before it was stolen and turned into Chicks and Dicks (which would turn into New Girl).
Both Stephanie Counts and Elizabeth Meriwether claim that real-life events inspired their pilot scripts.
While this lawsuit has followed FOX around for a few years, the chances of New Girl copying Square One appear to be purely coincidence.
15 There Were Many Criticisms Over The Show’s Portrayal Of Female Characters
Surprisingly, during New Girl’s first season the show received a fair bit of criticism in response to its portrayal of female characters.
This came as a shock since not only is the series created by a woman, but there are also a healthy amount of female writers on staff. New Girl constantly presents a very open-minded and positive point of view, so to say that it’s currently a detriment towards women is pretty crazy.
The biggest issue here is that Meriwether and company had to explain that Jess and her behavior is not supposed to be emblematic of all women, and that in fact, Jess is an emotional caricature.
Outside of Jess, there are plenty of other strong female characters that populate the series so it shouldn’t be a problem that Jess is a little outside of the box. As Jess has grown up through the years, however, the criticism has also diminished.
14 Prince Had Some Comprehensive Demands
New Girl hit such heights during its run that it was given the prestigious honor of the post-Super Bowl slot. The show didn’t waste the opportunity to go big... and what’s bigger than Prince?
New Girl had originally asked Prince to cameo in the episode “Virgins”, but he backed out because he thought the installment was “too racy.” The show was disappointed about this missed opportunity, but it worked out for the best since they later had the luxury to build an entire episode around Prince and give him more than just a cameo.
Prince has a delightful appearance in the episode “Prince”, but he came with a number of unusual stipulations.
Prince had opinions and requests for things from his wardrobe, which included paintings on the walls, hairstyles, items in Zooey's wardrobe, and the non-speaking chef character's name. He even had a specific piece of art flown in from Minnesota to hang on the wall.
13 There Almost Wasn’t A Seventh Season
The final and seventh season of New Girl is set to premiere in April, but many people may not realize that the ending of the series almost didn’t happen. In fact, the final season renewal of New Girl was a decision that was made extremely last minute and took place literally a day before the announcement was made.
New Girl was still successful in its sixth season, but scheduling issues and Deschanel’s new child made it look like the show wouldn't be able to get ready for FOX’s fall schedule.
Additionally, many members of the cast and writers felt like the show was approaching its ending point and thus the sixth season was being treated like the end, even if it wasn’t an official conclusion.
With the series on the brink of cancellation, Elizabeth Meriwether came in with the ambitious pitch for the final season and it was eventually approved.
12 The Series Regrets The Creation Of 'Adorkable'
During the initial marketing push for New Girl, a number of advertisements prominently featured the term “adorkable” in reference to Zooey Deschanel’s Jessica Day.
The portmanteau of the words “dork” and “adorable” might have initially seemed clever, but it quickly turned into a curse for the series.
For audiences and critics to the quirky tone of Jess, the phrase was everything that’s wrong with the show in a nutshell. It got to a point where if flighty Jess-like characters appeared in other programs, they would be referred to as "adorkable" as an insult.
New Girl has slowly grown up and refined its voice over the years, and along with that has come the ditching of the buzzword that was used to help the show in the first place.
When New Girl goes off the air this year, don’t expect “adorkable” to get added to the dictionary.
11 The Show’s Original Name Was Very, Very Different
“New Girl” might sound like a rather bland title for such a funny program. However, that might have something to do with the fact that it wasn’t the show original title.
When writer and creator of the series Elizabeth Meriwether originally wrote the script, it operated under the title "Chicks and Dicks." While the former certainly has a little more cache than “New Girl” does, it sort of gives off the wrong impression of the show.
New Girl is far from a raunchy program and who knows if the title "Chicks and Dicks" would have caused more or less people to tune in and ultimately make a difference.
Titles are difficult, especially for comedies, and it’s at least encouraging that Meriwether didn’t resort to a pun. “New Girl” might not have the most zip, but at least it’s accurate.
10 Winston And Nick's Personalities Were Originally Flipped
Winston and Nick are the two friends who have known each other the longest, and arguably the best. Their roots go back to college, and while the two have no doubt worn off on each other through the years, it’s a little jarring to learn that they were originally supposed to have swapped personalities.
At the start of New Girl, Winston is written as the immature baby and Nick actually appears to have his stuff together and is a mature adult, more or less.
As the show got further into production, though, it became clear that Jake Johnson and Lamorne Morris brought different energies to the characters and work began to change them around.
Even though Winston has a great job and relationship, the character still has a number of stranger tics, such as his love for pranks.
9 Jess Is Partially Based On Diane Keaton
Another fallback strategy that Elizabeth Meriwether had in mind if people questioned Jess’ behavior or thought that she was too outlandish was to bring up that she’s partially based on Diane Keaton.
You wouldn’t accuse Diane Keaton of being unusual, would you? It might seem crazy, but looking at Jess through this lens actually sheds a lot of light on the character.
While we can see a lot of Keaton and her eccentricities in Jessica Day, Meriwether also cites Tamsin Greig’s character from the surreal British sitcom Green Wing as a source of inspiration.
Greig’s character is very flustered and reactionary, which is certainly Jess. Finally, parts of Jess— including the premise of the show itself— are based upon series creator Elizabeth Meriwether herself.
8 Max Greenfield Wanted To De-Jerk Schmidt
It’s not unusual for actors to get invested in their characters and come up with own ideas or storylines for them. If actors are playing roles for years upon years, it seems natural that they’d bond with their fictional counterparts and want what’s best for them.
Max Greenfield and his portrayal of Schmidt are one of the first elements of the show that people praised. He was the series’ first breakout character.
That being said, Greenfield wasn’t initially confident with his character and didn’t know how much of him the audience would be able to handle.
Accordingly, Greenfield approached executive producer and director Jake Kasdan and told him that he wanted Schmidt to be as “not-douchey as possible.”
Kasdan clearly had a little more confidence in how well the character would track and told Greenfield that if he didn’t want Schmidt to be douchey, then he shouldn’t play him like one.
7 Season Five Was Filmed Despite The Fact That The Show Hadn't Been Official Renewed
Sometimes it’s necessary to take risks in Hollywood that you know will pay off down the road. People will write projects on spec and actors will take deferred fees, but New Girl did something pretty above and beyond, and it was all due to extenuating circumstances.
Towards the conclusion of New Girl’s fourth season, Zooey Deschanel had become pregnant. Meriwether and company had no interest in writing a pregnancy into the show, so their strategy was to immediately go into production on season five and get as much done with Deschanel as possible.
Scheduling like this isn’t exactly unusual, but what is different here is that New Girl had never been officially renewed for a fifth season yet.
While everyone was very confident that a renewal would happen, it still wasn’t in the bag. There was still a slim chance that all of the work that they were doing would be useless if the show was cancelled.
6 Damon Wayans Jr. Leaves, Then Joins, Then Leaves The Show Again
New Girl has a mostly stable cast, but there are still a few growing pains that go on for one character in particular-- Coach. Damon Wayans Jr.’s character appears in the New Girl pilot, but then is inconspicuously gone and Lamorne Morris’ Winston enters the picture.
Wayans Jr. shot the New Girl pilot because he was fairly certain that his current commitment, Happy Endings, would be cancelled.
When the show wasn’t cancelled, Wayans Jr. had to exit. However, when Happy Endings was cancelled the following year, Wayans Jr.’s availability allowed him to return to New Girl.
It was great to finally get Coach back in the picture, especially alongside Winston, but at this point in the show’s run, there was less of a need for his character and Wayan Jr. eventually left the show again.
5 Amanda Bynes Nearly Got The Lead Role
In what could have been an extremely unusual twist of fate, the role of Jessica Day nearly went to Amanda Bynes.
Comedy wasn’t completely foreign to Zooey Deschanel, but it’s understandable that the network had initial reservations and had a more seasoned comedic performer in mind.
What’s crazy here, though, is that Jessica Day is so much like Deschanel already. The two are so linked together that it’s hard to picture anyone else in the role, let alone Bynes connecting with the character in the same way.
This situation also opens the whole can of worms as to whether New Girl would have even resonated as strongly with Bynes as the lead.
Furthermore, if other cast members like Johnson or Greenfield had less chemistry with Bynes, perhaps their careers also wouldn’t have taken off in the same way. Or, perhaps the show would be even more popular than it is now. Either way, it's hard to say.
4 Jake Johnson And Zoey Deschanel Were Directed To Have Minimal Physical Contact
Jessica Day and Nick Miller have been on and off romantically throughout the course of New Girl, but there’s no denying that their love story is one of the pillars of the show.
Even when they aren’t together romantically, there’s still insane chemistry between the two of them. The show toyed with the idea of both Jess and Nick seeing other people (Nick even gets Megan Fox at one point), but it’s always been clear that the two of them were meant to be together.
Curiously enough, this electric chemistry was even clear during the show’s earliest stages.
During season one, both Zoey Deschanel and Jake Johnson were directed to have as little physical contact as possible since it was deemed too distracting.
Clearly these impulses couldn’t be denied and the show learned to play into them rather than fight them as it went on.
3 Megan Fox Could Have Permanently Replaced Zooey Deschanel
The New Girl team was clever enough to save a lot of face with Zooey Deschanel’s pregnancy, but there was still going to be a span of six episodes where Deschanel would be absent.
The series mulled over ideas of what to do over this time and while the remaining cast could have totally survived on their own, the ultimate decision was to add Megan Fox to the cast.
Many viewers were skeptical about what Megan Fox would be able to bring to the table, especially as a Deschanel's replacement, but many agreed that she does an awesome job.
Fox brings a unique dynamic to the show and her character’s relationship with Nick is also very sweet. Fox’s Reagan turned out to be such a popular character that her run was extended and rumblings were heard that she could even permanently replace Deschanel if she ever wanted to exit the show.
2 Winston’s Role Was Originally Offered To Jerrod Carmichael
New Girl has cultivated such a fantastic cast of comedic performers that hhasave an infectious energy and chemistry. It’s hard to imagine any of the characters played by a different actor, but this was very nearly the case for one of the cast members.
The role of Winston was originally offered to Jerrod Carmichael, who turned the opportunity down in order to focus on his stand-up career.
Carmichael is fantastic, but Lamorne Morris definitely feels like the better fit for the character. Morris feels more in tune with Winston’s playful and eccentric nature.
It’s hard to say if the character of Winston would have turned out more serious or contemplative had Carmichael taken the role, but it definitely would have been a very different take on the character.
Carmichael would later get his own series with The Carmichael Show, so clearly he doesn’t regret passing up this opportunity.
1 Jake Johnson Was Asked To Lose 15 Pounds For The Role Of Nick
Becoming part of the cast of a major network comedy can have its ups and downs. Obviously the recognition and fame is nice, but it comes at the price of being in the public eye and needing to fit into that mold.
Jake Johnson was ecstatic when he learned that he got the role of Nick Miller, but his manager also told him that he’d need to lose 15 pounds in order to take the part. Nick has always been a schlubby character in the series, but it’s been interesting to watch the character get progressively slimmer as the show goes on.
As much as Johnson might have hated the diet, clearly it’s done him well. His slimmer look has found its way into properties like Jurassic World and he is now considered to be a legitimate heartthrob.
Could Johnson be the next one to go through a Chris Pratt-like metamorphosis?
Can you think of any other secrets behind New Girl? Sound off in the comment section!