This is why Jess disappeared from New Girl during season five

Jess Day, played by Zooey Deschanel, was written out of the first five episodes of season five of Fox’s New Girl, due to the actress being on maternity leave.

Jess Day, played by Zooey Deschanel, is the main character on Fox’s New Girl. The series is based on the character being the only female roommate in a Los Angeles apartment, which she shares with a group of men who later become her best friends. The entire show centres around Jess’ move from Oregon to Los Angeles, and how her naïve outlook on life makes her loved by her friends, who are also overprotective of her.

Due to the integral role Jess plays in the series, audience members were confused when she was missing from the first five episodes of season five. The storyline, at the time, saw her best friend, Cece, planning her wedding, which further confused fans who felt that Jess would have made an extra effort to be a part of all the wedding festivities. In the storyline, Jess’ absence was explained as her having to be secluded from friends and family due to Jury Duty for a high-profile case.

As a way to explain her absence from the show, whilst assuring the audience that she will return, the other characters often called her on the phone and once received a jury sketch which showed her participating in the court case. Actress, Megan Fox, also joined the cast for the short period, featuring as a replacement whilst the lead was gone.  In reality, it was revealed that Zooey had taken a short break after giving birth to her daughter, and used the time off as maternity leave.

Zooey returned in episode six of season five, subsequently allowing for Megan to exit the storyline and the main cast to be reinstated. In 2016, show creator, Elizabeth Meriwether, was quoted by HitFix as saying, “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.”