Why Did Zooey Deschanel Leave 'New Girl'? The Actress Had A Very Good Reason

OK, real talk, you guys. I am not the star of my very own TV show (shocking, I know), but if I was, then I'd have to have a pretty good excuse for taking time off from said show — especially if my absence ran the length of six full episodes. I'm, of course, making reference to Zooey Deschanel's temporary departure from New Girl, which has left her fellow loftmates to fend for themselves over the last few weeks. So why exactly did Zooey Deschanel leave New Girl in the first place and completely abandon her Season 5 duties? She pretty much has the best excuse in the world: she was off enjoying the labors of motherhood — quite literally.

Yes, unless you've been living under a rock for the last year, you know that the actress, who announced her pregnancy in early 2015, gave birth to a healthy baby girl in July and has therefore been on maternity leave for the past several months. Deschanel may have been able to keep filming more in the months leading up to the birth if the writers had planned on incorporating the pregnancy into her New Girl storyline somehow. But since that wasn't the case, they didn't want to run the risk of having her start to show, which is what brought Jess' hilarious jury duty summons plot development into play.

Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Interesting enough, though, that wasn't the only option the writers had considered to help explain Jess' absence on the show. "We talked about her maybe going back to Oregon to be back with her family," New Girl creator Liz Meriwether recently told HitFix in an interview. "What was difficult was that it just didn't feel plausible that she wouldn't be in contact with them, that she wouldn't be emailing and calling. We wondered if we should bank a bunch of generic Jess advice phone calls. And then we had this idea of sequestering her, because they live in LA and it's the kind of place where they have high-profile cases. What really sold us on the idea, honestly, was just the idea of Jess in a jury sketch."

And it all ended up working out for the best. Not only have we seen new dynamics spring up in her absence, like the unlikely friendship between Winston and Cece, but we've also been introduced to a compelling new character in Megan Fox's Reagan. So while I'm still very much looking forward to having Jess back where she belongs, I can't deny that it's been a highly enjoyable season even without her there to keep our gang in check. In a way, I suppose it's nice to know that the show can stand on its own without her, and it should definitely make their upcoming reunion all the more heartwarming to witness.