New Girl will be hitting the reset button on its fourth season, bringing the show back to basics without the messiness of Nick and Jess’ relationship bogging down the Fox comedy.
Instead, all six of the show’s main characters are now single, providing a new wealth of comedy as they attempt to get back out there with various incoming guest-stars. “If you’re an actor and you want to have sex with one of the New Girl cast members, call Liz Meriwether to figure it out,” the show’s creator jokes of the new season.
But does that mean Nick and Jess are done for good? And will Schmidt and Cece get back together? Below, Meriwether teases what’s in store for the ragtag sextet:
Talk about where the new season is picking up.
We are picking up the show with the summer having gone by. So, Nick and Jess have been broken up for about four months. It’s just been the summer of weddings. Basically it was an idea for an episode that came from my own life of just looking at my kitchen and I have this magnetic blackboard that was just covered in wedding invitations, and just feeling like this is that time in their lives when everybody’s inviting you to housewarmings and baby showers and engagement parties and weddings. It’s just that feeling of all of them wondering for a second, “You know, am I moving forward in the right way or am I stuck behind a little bit?” They’ve been to 11 weddings in a row and this is the 12th and final wedding of the summer and Jess hasn’t hooked up with anybody since Nick. All the guys are pushing her to get back out there and get back in the game and helping her to take advantage of the easy sex that happens at weddings.
She sets her sights on Veep’s Reid Scott. How will that go over?
Jess decides to go after the best man and she’s a little nervous about it. He’s the wedding celebrity because he had a best man’s toast that killed. She’s actually, in her weird way, doing pretty well with him and then any girl’s worst nightmare, Jessica Biel, starts to also hit on him. It’s the two of them competing over this guy and Jess doesn’t have a lot of moves. She ultimately just decides to do something that Winston suggests which is called the “Joe Biden,” which is to just be there. Jessica was amazing and really funny, and the two of them together were fun.
If last season was about exploring Jess and Nick’s relationship, what would you say this season is about?
I do think this is the year of Cece and Schmidt. Schmidt, at the beginning of the year, is really trying not to go down his usual path of being obsessed with her. He’s really trying to fight against that. When we pick up the show, he’s really gone back to Schmidt of the first season—really cocky, sort of douchey, always has a plan. They’ve obviously had such a crazy history together that Schmidt’s thinking let her come to me if this is going to happen. They have a long road, they have a while to go to come back together. They’re moving in that direction and what’s fun is that we get to have fun with Schmidt a little bit in the beginning of the year without Cece. He’s just sleeping with everybody and not caring about anybody, In the second episode he’s teaching Jess how to use this [Tinder-like app] that we created called Dice because he’s been using it a lot and sleeping around a lot.
What’s in store for Cece this year besides the Schmidt stuff?
She got her GED at the end of last year so she’s going to go to college. One of my favorite storylines coming up is that Cece’s considering getting a boob reduction, which pushes Schmidt to the brink with his feelings about her because he can’t stand by and let this happen. He demands to have an emotional good bye with her breasts. That becomes a turning point for them.
Is there a chance that Nick and Jess will get back together?
They’re definitely just friends right now. There’s a moment in the premiere where Nick really helps Jess out and it’s a great relationship because it’s so rich now. There’s so much history between them and they know each other so well. They live together, so that’s really complicated. We’re just having fun writing them not as much in the will-they-or-won’t-they zone, but more just all of the crazy complications of their relationship as it stands now where they’re best friends. Are they too involved in each other’s lives? Everybody else in the world is like, “That’s really weird that you’re living with your ex.” But the two of them are just having really a good time with it and enjoying it. I think the show, at its heart, is always about their love story. This is a moment when the love story’s not as much in the forefront but I know I’m definitely not like ruling out them getting back together at some point.
Can you talk about some of the people they will be dating this year?
Nick [has been] aiming for the middle with girls. His thinking is like, “I really put myself out there and tried with Jess, and now I’m just going to not try.” It’s going to take him a while to get back into another relationship. Jess is the vice principal at school, so she’s giving up her classroom. She has to replace herself and she does with a teacher (Once Upon a Time‘s Julian Morris) who she is immediately attracted to. The complication is that she’s very much his boss and so there’s an arc coming up where Jess is fighting her feelings with this teacher at work. Oh, she dates a guy (Smallville‘s Alan Ritchson) who has a micro-penis, as I’ve said very publicly. [Also,] Rob Reiner is returning as Jess’s dad with Kaitlin Olson. Kaitlin plays this girl that Jess went to high school with who is dating her dad now.
When will Winston graduate from the police academy?
He doesn’t graduate from the police academy until middle of the year. The roommates are just dealing with the implications that they’re going to be living with a cop. In the second episode, Nick, Coach, and Cece decide to get stoned because they feel like they’re not going to be able to get stoned when Winston actually is a cop. But then they end up at a party of all cops. All of them are, on some level, not really believing that he’s actually going to be a cop. But he’s doing really well and we’re definitely going to have him graduate in the middle of the year. Believe it or not, this show’s going to turn into Brooklyn Nine-Nine. We’re slowly transitioning into it.
What’s coming up for Coach?
Coach works at Jess’ school, and so Coach gets involved in this story that Jess has with this teacher at school. Coach is a little skeptical of Jess trying to be the boss all the time. That’s also hard if you live with somebody who is your boss. He’s embracing teaching. He’s learning to be a better teacher and just generally sleeping with everybody he can possibly sleep with.
There’s a lot of sleeping around this year.
There are six single characters in one television show. It’s the most sex where you can’t actually see anything on a television show possible. It’s been really fun to write them all single and just the different ways that they’re single and the stupid things that they’re doing. Yeah, [write] an article where it’s like, “If you’re an actor and you want to have sex with one of the New Girl cast members, call Liz Meriwether to figure it out.”
New Girl returns Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
Want more scoop on New Girl? Pick up the Fall TV Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly.