TV & Movies

The Real Reason Behind Zoey Deschanel's Brief New Girl Departure

Megan Fox took her spot in the loft.

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There’s no New Girl without the New Girl herself, Jessica Day. Expertly played by Zooey Deschanel, the show centers on Day’s adventures living in a loft with three male best friends. But midway through Season 5, Deschanel had to take a temporary leave from the show. The actress, who announced her pregnancy in early 2015, gave birth to a healthy baby girl in July and went on maternity leave for a few subsequent months. This left the writers with a unique challenge: How to let the show carry on without its star. Their answer? Have Jess get stuck on the jury for a high profile criminal case.

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 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 we’re still very much looking forward to having Jess back where she belongs, we’re can't deny that it's been a highly enjoyable season even without her there to keep our gang in check.

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