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The aptly titled “Thanksgiving” marks the first appearance of Justin Long, who plays Paul in three-episode arc of the freshman season. Creator and showrunner Liz Meriwether got on the phone with reporters to discuss his entrance and what it means for the the burgeoning chemistry between Jess and Nick (Jake Johnson).
“As soon as he walks in the door, Nick, says, ‘Oh my God there’s two of them,’ which I think sort of describes his character,” Meriwether says. “He’s sort of the male version of Jess, and they just immediately sort of hit it off.”
They more than sort of hit it off. Paul is the first romance for Jess since the series premiere, which opened with her walking in on her boyfriend of six years with another woman.
But the real obstacle for the twee twosome isn’t Jess’ baggage, it’s her roommates. And Paul’s appearance at their Thanksgiving finds them less protective than annoyed.
“I think they’re excited for her to be in a relationship but a little worried that he’s going to be around all the time,” says Meriwether. “Ultimately they’re pretty supportive of it. I think one line we cut out was like, ‘Maybe he’ll tire her out,’ or something. (They did.)
This story also puts the breaks on the previous episode’s acknowledgment of Nick and Jess’ latent feelings for each other, something the show tried to tone down in earlier episodes.
STORY: A Guide to Thanksgiving-Themed Shows and Specials
“I think they have great chemistry,” she says. “Of all the characters they’re the two that kind of I think fit together the best, but I think they have a while to go emotionally before they’re going to be at that place.”
So while viewers might wonder about an instant pay-off between the two characters, Meriwether insists that’s not in the cards. Even after joking this season will end in their wedding, she says the show will focus on friendship for the foreseeable future.
“That was sort of why we did the episode last week was to kind of address it,” Meriwether, “but also say it’s not really happening right now.”
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