(Spoiler alert: Please do not read ahead unless you’ve seen Tuesday’s season seven premiere of “New Girl.”)
“New Girl” returned for its seventh and final season tonight with more than a few new elements, including a new character. A teeny, tiny one who the series’ co-showrunner Brett Baer told TheWrap is going to play a big part in the Zooey Deschanel-led comedy’s final few episodes: Ruth Bader Parekh Schmidt.
When the show picked up Tuesday after about a three-year time jump, fans were introduced to Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Cece’s (Hannah Simone) three-year-old daughter (played by twins Rhiannon and Danielle Rockoff), who they named after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
TheWrap asked Baer about this hilarious decision in a recent interview and found out it had a lot to do with character growth on Schmidt’s part — a guy who was always very conservative and often objectified women at the beginning of the Elizabeth Meriwether-created series.
“I think that that came from wanting for Cece to have had some impact on that and Cece’s relationship with Jess (Deschanel) and their political leanings,” Baer said. “I think she probably went out with Schmidt on that,” Baer said. “And I think Schmidt always — you know, he’s a strict conservative. There was a time where I think he was hoping Paul Ryan would run in 2020?” (Oh, yes, there was.)
“But I think down in his soul though, he is a progressive when it comes to his daughter being a successful woman and wanting to support her being, as I think we talked about in one of the episodes, becoming President of the United States herself,” Baer added. “And I think he respects strong women, and he was always able to get along with Jess, who obviously had a different political leaning than he did.”
While fans may immediately find Ruth to be adorable and a great addition to the cast (and the series’ stars and writers did too!) Baer said they were apprehensive about their risky decision to bring a kid into the mix with just eight episodes left to wrap up the beloved show.
“We were terrified,” Baer said, laughing. “You’re introducing this really important element and you’ve got a dynamic and chemistry that this cast has and we knew this was a major contribution and change that could shift everything. You needed to have exactly the right person, or I should say people, in that part. And a lot of it came down to getting Max and Hannah to audition with our final prospects for the role. And Max is a father, and Hannah a new mother, and they have this incredible relationship with the actors who played Ruth. And they were really, really lovely together on set. Very, very welcoming.”
“And those kids were really funny,” Baer added. “There were many times we’d see a cut of the episodes and some of the scenes that they’re in we’d say, ‘Can we cut back to Ruth for a thing here? We need a laugh here.’ And we’d scrub through the footage and find an incredible, hilarious take or beat or reaction that would just give us an extra laugh.”
“They actually became a really important part of the show for us this season and not only from a storytelling standpoint, but just from a production standpoint looking for that great bit to get us out of a scene,” Baer said. “More often than not, we were able to find what we were looking for in their outtakes. And they had a great dynamic with Jake Johnson (who plays Nick) too, who was hilarious with them.”
The final season of “New Girl” airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET on Fox.