21 Facts About New Girl That Will Leave You Wistful For the Loft

The economy stinks, bees are dying and movies are pretty much all sequels now, but as New Girl marks its 10th anniversary, you can still enjoy these fun facts from the cast and creator.

By Sarah Grossbart Sep 20, 2021 6:30 PMTags
Watch: "New Girl" Star Lamorne Morris Reflects on Hilarious Co-Stars

Chicks & Dicks kinda sounds like something that would have Schmidt contributing to the Douchebag Jar. And yet that was the series we almost tuned into every Tuesday night. 

Admittedly, it was always a placeholder, insists New Girl creator, writer and director Liz Meriwether, who told Glamour in 2018, "I knew [Chicks & Dicks] wouldn't remain, but there's so many pilots during any given pilot season that it's nice to have a title that catches people's attention."

And it does quite succinctly summarize her brainchild, inspired from her years "of bouncing from Craigslist sublet to Craigslist sublet" in Los Angeles: A heightened, yet, not all that unrealistic look at a group of twentysomethings living in a loft and trying to get their s--t together. 

"It came from me kind of looking around my life and realizing a lot of my friends were guys and me just feeling like, 'Why?'" Meriwether explained to E! News. "They're guys who have been my friends since I was 17. I go to them for really specific things that I don't go to my girlfriends for. It kind of just got me thinking about a sort of wish fulfillment situation where I get to live with my guy friends and they get to tell me what to do, like not to call him and not to wear that."

New Girl LOL Moments

In an L.A.-area loft, she paired her so-called adorkable lead (more on that later), handbell-playing, pink wine-drinking recently dumped teacher Jess Day (Zooey Deschanel) with a collection of still-figuring-it-out men (Max Greenfield's pretentious, yet, lovable Schmidt, Jake Johnson's endearingly hapless Nick Miller, Lamorne Morris' sweet, loyal Winston and Damon Wayans Jr.'s self-assured personal trainer Coach). 

Throw in a supportive best friend (Hannah Simone's CeCe), a drinking game no one quite understands but everyone wants to try and a seemingly endless supply of quotable one-liners ("Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? No, a summer's day is not a bitch") and you've got the show E! News dubbed the best new release of the 2011 fall slate. 

Some 10 million viewers tuned in for the Sept. 20, 2011 premiere making it the night's No. 1 show. And though the series' viewership petered out by its 2018 finale, they still delivered the perfect happy endings for their lovable crew. 

Ray Mickshaw/FOX

And with a new fanbase stumbling into the loft during quarantine, the door isn't totally shut on a reunion

"I feel like people can relate to that sense of camaraderie," Morris recently told E! News. "During the quarantine especially, you're at home probably with roommates or with family, so with New Girl, one of the things that people really enjoyed about the show was our chemistry with each other, but [also] how each character reminded them of someone that they knew, someone that they lived with. I hear it all the time, 'Oh, my cousin's exactly like Schmidt. Winston is me.' So when you're sitting at home and you're kinda forced to be in your house watching television, you kinda want something to either help you laugh or at least something that's relatable. I think New Girl did that for a lot of people." 

Plus, he added, "You're gonna sit your ass on that couch, you better watch something good. And damn it, New Girl is great." 

Unlike Winston's pranking abilities, that take is dead-on. Join us in reflecting on seven seasons because, really, what else are you going to do? As a wise man once said, "The economy stinks, bees are dying, and movies are pretty much all sequels now."

1. Zooey Deschanel nailed the part of quirky, Nancy Drew fan fiction-writing Jess Day instantly. "The first time we met each other, we really felt this connection," creator Liz Meriwether told E! News days after the series' 2011 premiere. "She just picked up the script and started reading and I was like, 'That's exactly everything I would ever want that character to be.'"

And with the main role sorta kinda fashioned in the writer's likeness, "It's funny. My cousin in Florida, who didn't actually know that I had been working on this show, saw the promo and called my mom and was like, 'There's some show on Fox where Zooey Deschanel's acting like Liz,'" shared Meriwether. "It just feels like that kind of mind meld."

2. But, no, Jess was not, in fact, meant to be adorkable. During a 2015 chat with Huffington PostThe Elf star took issue with the constant comparisons to her most notable role. "That was our marketing department at Fox and they did a really good job with our first season," she said of their choice to coin that term to describe Jess, "but that's a word that describes the character that I play, not me. I don't personally have identification with that word myself."

And, actually, the issue for Meriwether was the use of the word in the first place. She hadn't seen her creation as a "cute" show, she admitted to Glamour ahead of the 2018 finale. "I think it was sold out of the gate as that," she noted. "I honestly think because Jess wore glasses, they needed to make this the marketing campaign. If it was my job to market the show, it probably wouldn't have opened well. It definitely was difficult for me because it wasn't the show I'd dreamed of. I had always seen the show as just weird people in L.A. living together."

3. Embodied by the right actors, Jess' roommates became every bit as endearing as the unfailingly upbeat teacher herself. But pretentious playboy Schmidt wasn't initially intended to be likable. "I had written the character as this kind of, like, Jersey Shore member," Meriwether revealed to Glamour. "He was just this very sleazy, idiot character." Enter Veronica Mars alum Max Greenfield who "came in with this amazing take on it," she continued. "He wanted Schmidt to be a good character, and he played him as someone that was actually insecure. The character got so much deeper and more interesting when he came in to do that audition."

Then came this crucial tip. Approaching executive producer Jake Kasdan, Greenfield told Entertainment Weekly he said, "'Let's just try to make this character as not-douchey as possible.' And he goes, 'Well, just don't play him douchey.'"

4. Greenfield particularly leaned into this character quirk. "I like to pick them specifically," he told E! News of mispronouncing words like Jay Cut-uh-ler, chut-ta-ney and, of course yooths, a nod to the time he spent working with dialect coaches to shed his native New York accent. "Every once in a while they'll come and tell me to mispronounce a word, and I'll go, 'I would never mispronounce that word. Why would I ever say that incorrectly?' But I like to identify them, and then hit them, and they get very upset. Sometimes I'll do it at the table read, and they're like, 'We just want to hear it.'"

5. Jake Johnson was asked to make one big change after getting cast. When the actor got the call from his manager telling him that Fox requested he drop 10-15 pounds to inhabit sarcastic cash-strapped bartender and eventual Jess love interest Nick Miller, "I almost started crying," Johnson revealed on Slate's Thirst Aid Kit podcast last year. But it wasn't because he was offended. 

On his way to celebrate the booking with wife Erin Payne at a Mexican restaurant, "I was already thinking about what I was going to order," Johnson told The Advocate. "I was going to get chips and guacamole, a blended margarita, a quesadilla for the table, and a chicken burrito for me. I knew she was going to get tacos, so I figured we'd do a little mix and match on that." Instead, he shared, "I had chicken salad with no dressing." 

But once he was established on the show with his regular, still pretty fit shape, "They made a bunch of jokes," he said on Thirst Aid Kid. "Once Liz made a joke about it and Max Greenfield hit the joke and everybody laughed. I think everybody at the network could exhale and say, 'Nick Miller, he could be the chubby guy.' As soon as that joke happened, I got my two sides, I got my margaritas, I was back to eating the way I should eat."

6. Lamorne Morris originally auditioned to play Coach. "In the scene, he was wearing jeggings and a halter top, they were at a Halloween party or something, and I came to the audition dressed that way," Morris detailed to Backstage. "I put a bunch of Vaseline on my legs or something stupid, which is a no-no, don't do that. I did it and they passed on me originally. It wasn't so much performance, it was what I did. Ultimately, they had me come back in, and that's the note they gave me: Don't wear what you wore before, it was too distracting."

One or two auditions later, he reached the final audition, Morris revealed to E! News, only to get an offer for a CBS pilot called The Assistants. Though he "really wanted to be on New Girl," he explained, "I had to choose, who was making me the offer. Because I could go and audition for New Girl and do the test and not get it. And then CBS goes and tests for their show and picks someone else and then I'm just s--t out of luck." 

Ultimately, Damon Wayans Jr. was chosen to portray the confident personal trainer only to find out his series, Happy Endings, which had been in limbo, was picked up for a second season. And with Morris' pilot not moving forward, creators brought him in again to audition for the new role of lovably goofy Winston Bishop. 

"Now that was the grueling part of the audition process," Morris noted, "because I had to re-audition all over again against the entire town. I mean, you name it, everyone was reading for it. I auditioned a total of 15 times for New Girl."

7. And there's a lot of Morris in Winston "Prank Sinatra" Bishop. "Even things down to exposition, like, my character's from Chicago," noted the actor, who just wrapped the second season of his hit Netflix series Woke. "My character's a LeBron James fan. I'm a LeBron James fan. Love the Bulls. My character loves the Bulls. I love basketball, obviously, and they made my character a former pro basketball player from Lativa." 

While writers lifted a lot from his real life, "Obviously it's a heightened version," he said. "I'm not as dense as Winston is. But I just remember after the show ending, me having moments where I had to remind myself that I'm Lamorne, not Winston, so stop behaving this way."

8. Johnson was actually responsible for bringing Wayans back. After Happy Endings' unfortunate finish, it wasn't New Girl producers who initially reached about getting Coach back in the loft for the third season. Rather, while Wayans and Johnson were shooting the 2014 buddy comedy Let's Be Cops, "Jake talked to me about coming back to New Girl and maybe doing some stuff," Wayans told E! News. "And then it actually happened, so it just felt right…It's like being back with the family."

Morris recalled having "chemistry" with Wayans instantly. "He definitely helped my character a lot," he told E! News. "There were moments on set where we were doing bits or in a scene and he'd just whisper jokes in my ear. I mean, he's like one of the funniest people on the planet and his joke-writing ability is top, top, top. So when he pitches a joke, it's funny. And you use it."

9. Still, things were a little "weird at first," Morris admitted, though not among the cast. "Everyone kept saying, 'Wait, Damon's coming back. Are you leaving?' I was like, 'What? Why do I have to leave because another dude's coming back on the show? There's room for all of us. Fox has plenty of money. I'm sure they can pay Damon.'"

The questions reached such a fevered pitch on one Golden Globes carpet, that Morris recalled Johnson snapping back, saying, "What are you implying? Damon did one episode of the show! I think we're a good 20 episodes in with Lamorne. I think it's safe to say Lamorne is a member of this cast." 

It was warranted, noted Johnson during a panel at 2020's Vulture Festival. "They were utter dogs--t questions," he explained. "You don't just need one Black guy. You can have a bunch of 'em on the show!" 

10. Nick's friendship with reserved neighbor Tran? Also Johnson. Showrunner Dave Finkel recounted to The A.V. Club in 2013 about the time Johnson texted Meriwether with a new idea: "He was like, 'What if I have a Vietnamese friend in a park?'" Added Meriwether, "'And he doesn't speak English, and his family gets really mad at me for hanging out with him.'"

Soon after, Ralph Ahn was cast as the recurring character who popped up in seven episodes only ever uttering two speaking lines. 

11. Such suggestions from the cast were always well-received. "One thing that I love is that we are really allowed to do our thing," Deschanel raved in a joint 2012 Collider interview with Meriwether. "We're allowed to be actors and contribute, and it's not always that way. I think a lot of actors feel stifled. This is such an open atmosphere. We're allowed to play and have fun, and it's a wonderful atmosphere to work in." 

In the past, she continued, "I've had experiences where I wasn't allowed to change words around at all because you have to say everything, exactly as written on the page. That's not fun for me. For me, part of being an actor is being able to contribute to a character's rhythms. If there's room to explore, you find a happy medium. We almost always get it as written, and then, we throw some improvs in or some alternatives."

Agreed Morris, "The great thing about our show is that Liz Meriwether and all the writers, Brett Baer, Dave Finkel, they did a great job of blending the bits that we did off camera and who we really were with our characters."

12. True American is a truly anything goes situation. Though there's now an entire website dedicated to the rules of the roommates' beloved drinking game—first introduced in season one, episode 20—they certainly didn't come from the writers. 

"We were all reading the script and it said, 'Now they all play a drinking game,'" Johnson told E! News. "And I think it was Lamorne who finally said, 'What are the rules to True American?' And [the writers] go, 'To be perfectly honest, we're not sure.' There's a lot of flaws in the logic of the game. So in terms of the rules of playing it, you just have to get drunk and yell presidents and throw beer in corners. That's it."

13. Things got equally wild when cameras weren't rolling. "We had so much fun on that show," raved Morris. "Like, our behind-the-scenes photos are insane. All the photos that are in our camera rolls, fans would love. One day we're probably going to release a behind-the-scenes photo book or something like that." 

Even with 14-hour days in the earlier seasons, "It was like it wasn't work at times," he told E! News. "There were times a guest director would come in and just get so frustrated, because all we're doing is having fun. We're goofing off. We're being silly. We're joking around. And that translates to the camera, when the camera rolls, a lot of times, we're still doing a bit and then the editor has that tough job of having to cut out where the actor ends and the character beings."

14. Though everyone from Jessica Biel to Adam Brody to Megan Fox to freakin' Prince accepted a guest role on the series, there were sooooo many more the cast and creators would have loved to bring on.

High on the list was Deschanel's real-life sister, Bones star Emily Deschanel, but, "We have to pass her soundstage to go to our soundstage and they're always working," executive producer Baer told E! News. "But we'd love to work with her and so would Zooey." Instead they brought in Linda Cardellini as Jess' wild card little sis. "We needed someone who was beautiful and who can really act but also be funny," noted Baer. "I think we hit a homerun. Linda is fantastic."

Other requests from the cast included Greenfield wanting Ray Romano to portray his dad ("He's my hero. He's as good as it gets"), Johnson throwing out the idea of NFL great Peyton Manning coming in as his boss at the bar and Morris requesting, "Beyoncé and Rihanna at the same time."

15. To be fair, they earned the right to dream big. After all, music legend Prince reached out to them. "He knows everything about the show," exec producer Baer told E! News in 2014. "He contacted Zooey and Hannah [Simone] directly and asked to do the show."

The original plan was to cast The Purple One in a season two episode called "Virgins," but he turned them down, Meriwether revealed to Vulture. "Obviously, in hindsight: The episode was too racy," she admitted. "But we were told he would be interested in coming back to do something else another time." He followed through at the start of season three and with the series slated to air in the post-Super Bowl slot. "It was perfect timing," noted Baer. 

Pitched the idea that the crew would end up at his house party, the musician agreed with one caveat. "He said, 'I want to be involved in the show in a real way and I want to help Nick and Jess with their relationship,'" executive producer Finkel told E! News. Added Baer, "He's a Nick and Jess shipper!"

16. And, yes, he had some other demands—but they all stemmed from an obsession to make the episode the best ever. "He wanted to choose the name of the non-speaking chef character, the chef's wardrobe, the paintings on the walls, the linens in the bedroom set, his wardrobe, Zooey's wardrobe, the music, the pancakes, the hairstyles," Meriwether detailed to Vulture, "he had a piece of art, a poem written out in the shape of an egg, flown from Minnesota to hang on the wall of the set. His vision of the episode was all-encompassing, but I never felt overpowered. He always asked what I thought. It was like he was asking me to rise up to meet him." 

Midway through the week-long nighttime shoot, he approached Meriwether with another suggestion: Set to surprise Jess in a dark closet, he asked "Isn't this funnier?" if he flicked on a lighter under his chin rather than a flashlight. "I tried to stay cool," Meriwether recalled. "'Yeah, that's funnier. Let's do that.' As if there were ever a world where doing exactly what was inside Prince's head wasn't one of the greatest privileges of my life."

17. Also a New Girl stan: Taylor Swift, who "was quoting lines to us from the show," Meriwether told Entertainment Weekly, when she made a cameo as Elaine, a woman who broke up Cece's arranged wedding in the season two finale. "She kind of came and nailed it," Meriwether continued. "We love bringing in guest stars, but we really try to make it feel like they're part of the show and it's not just stunt casting."

In fact, Swift was so good, it was "a little bit frustrating," Johnson admitted. "She came in and is really nice. It's not an easy scene. There were probably 70 extras there—though I'm sure she performs to so much bigger [crowds] than that on a regular basis. She had, like, a little monologue and delivered it perfectly. Liz gave her alternative jokes and lines, she delivered them all perfectly. It was frustrating!"

18. There's a reason it took forever to land at a happily ever after for Nick and Jess, Cece and Schmidt. "From the very beginning, what we've always said about all of these characters, and particularly the Nick and Jess relationship, is these people have to grow into their adult selves before they can have any relationships with each other," Baer explained to E! News after the season two finale saw Nick and Jess get together for the first time. "They all have to evolve to be the best people they're capable of being for there to be a chance."

Of course, it wouldn't be a successful series if they simply rode off into the sunset problem-free. "I think that now they are in a relationship with each other, I don't think that those problems or dilemmas change," Baer continued. "I think that those are the dynamic of anybody being in a relationship, is that you're always confronted with big questions about that person that you have from the time you met them."

19. Much like Nick and Jess did to end up together, Johnson and Deschanel fought hard for a final season. After wrapping the sixth year, Johnson detailed on the Thirst Aid Kit podcast, "Fox was being pretty cool and saying like, 'We don't want to cancel you, but nobody's watching.'"

So he and Deschanel "literally wrote an email to the heads [of Fox and 20th Century TV] asking for more, for the few OG fans who stayed with us," he revealed. "You can't end the way season six ended where it was rushed. I was like, 'Give Liz Meriwether the time to finish this right!'" The answer was to flash-forward to the year 2020 with satisfying endings for all. 

"There's so many things I'd do differently, but when we were putting together a clip reel for our wrap party, I went back and watched old episodes, and it was the first time I could really enjoy them," Meriwether told Glamour ahead of the 2018 finale. "At the time, you're tired and feeling every mistake or joke that got cut. But going back I was like, 'Oh, these are pretty funny!' I couldn't remember all the craziness to get there."

20. To this day, the cast remains a tight-knit family. "We're in group chats," shared Morris. "Some of us meet up, hang out, visit each other's families. You spend that much time with each other, you truly become a family." 

Throughout those seven seasons of filming, "You're closer to the cast and crew than you are with your own family at home, because you spend more time with them," he continued. "And that never goes away. We all genuinely get along."

21. So a reunion isn't totally out of the realm of possibility. With people rediscovering the series during last year's quarantine—"It is so ridiculously funny and so almost 99 percent of the time about meaningless ridiculous things that you can't help to enjoy and laugh and escape from everything in the world," Greenfield noted to E! News—there's certainly interest. 

"Liz Meriwether would have to crack a great story, and if she does that, it would be really fun to get everybody back," Johnson told E! News. And it wouldn't be hard to round up the troops. "Hannah Simone and I were texting two nights ago," he shared. "Zooey and I still text. All the guys and I are on a text chain. Everybody's still linked up, so I would be surprised if there's not some sort of a thing at some point where everybody comes back."

Morris would actually take it one step further. "I'll put it to you like this," he told E! News. "Dexter is coming back. It's one of the greatest shows in my opinion and I think it's going to do gangbusters. New Girl will be even bigger. Obviously there are a lot of things that would have to make sense, but for sure, that's something I would love to do. And I think I've spoken to other castmates as well that feel the exact same way: Do one final season or, hell, a New Girl movie. Who knows?" 

No matter what, he teased, "There is something coming. We will return. Stay tuned to our social channels and we will be dropping little hints."

22. That Exotic Shorthair cat we all know and love? Lamorne Morris was allergic to him. 

In an interview with E! News, Hannah Simone revealed that "Lamorne is allergic to cats," and Lamorne shared that he had to "start taking meds" in order to work with Ferguson. 

—With reporting by Spencer Lubitz