June Diane Raphael Sets Jess' Biological Clock Ticking on 'New Girl'

The actress, returning as Zooey Deschanel's onscreen gynecologist and pal, tells THR about her visit to the Fox comedy and her latest project with longtime friend and writing partner Casey Wilson.
Kay Cannon, June Diane Raphael, Zooey Deschanel

June Diane Raphael, New Girl's resident lesbian gynecologist and a good friend to Jess (Zooey Deschanel), stages her third appearance on the Fox comedy this Tuesday in "Eggs." And as the title subtly implies, her return prompts fertility fears in the other women of the show.

"Dr. Sadie is pregnant," Raphael tells The Hollywood Reporter, "and I tell the whole gang about how I had gotten my eggs tested to see how they were all doing. I encourage Jess to do the same because she may not have as much time as she thinks she has. That sort of spirals her and Cece [Hannah Simone] out of control."

The episode also introduces Sadie's partner, Melissa, played by series writer Kay Cannon. And though Raphael will return in just two weeks for this year's Christmas episode, "Santa," she says she regrettably won't be playing pregnant enough for a fake belly.

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"I wanted one so bad," says Raphael. "When I announced my pregnancy in this episode, it's very early. I'm not supposed to be showing -- so if I am, just know that I'm really bloated."

New Girl is one of several recurring gigs for Raphael these days. She's on Adult Swim's NTSF:SD:SUV, has appeared on several episodes of Animal Practice and soon tackles the role of the Bachelorette in the second season of Ken Marino and Erica Oyama's online reality TV spoof, Burning Love. Like those projects, New Girl is something of a reunion for her and many of her comedy collaborators.

"I have a history in improv," says Raphael. "I knew Jake Johnson from the Upright Citizens Brigade, and Neal Brennan [Chappelle's Show], who directed this episode, I've known and worked with before... There's a similar vocabulary with everyone who works on this show. It's really exciting to see that happening on a network level."

Raphael is currently hard at work on an opportunity to take her sensibility to the network on a more regular basis. She and her longtime friend and writing and stage partner, Happy Endings' Casey Wilson, are developing a period comedy at ABC.

The Housewives, a multicamera comedy about three female friends in 1954, would serve as a starring vehicle for Raphael if it goes to pilot.

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"It's like a comedic version of Mad Men that's really focused on the women," says Raphael, who notes their original inspiration was the less sophisticated Real Housewives franchise on Bravo. "What we're seeing on reality TV now is such a departure from what that word used to be, so we're going back to when that word had more meaning."

The duo, who are also taking another pass at last year's ABC project, Walk of Shame, were also inspired to make The Housewives by classic multicams from TV's Golden Age.

"I think it's hard now because multicams don't have a reason to be multicam other than being cheaper to produce. We wanted to do one that had a reason," she says, noting a fondness for I Love Lucy. "Those stories are very simple: She's just doing so much physical comedy and so much clown work. It's so satisfying to watch and still holds up."

Raphael, who met Wilson in a clowning class at NYU, says the duo's busy schedules can make it difficult to collaborate in person, so they've gotten used to constantly handing off scripts like a relay torches.

"The hardest part is getting us in a room together," she says. "We'll pass it back and forth so many times, by the end of it, I genuinely can't tell who wrote what."

Email: Michael.OConnell@THR.com; Twitter: @MikeyLikesTV