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Zooey Deschanel's Jess, the titular "New Girl", is absent from several episodes of season 5.

In-story she has been called for jury duty and remains sequestered. As the main character, is there a real-world explanation?

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up vote 16 down vote accepted

From Bustle:

So why exactly did Zooey Deschanel leave New Girl in the first place and completely abandon her Season 5 duties? She pretty much has the best excuse in the world: she was off enjoying the labors of motherhood — quite literally.

Yes, unless you've been living under a rock for the last year, you know that the actress, who announced her pregnancy in early 2015, gave birth to a healthy baby girl in July and has therefore been on maternity leave for the past several months.

If it makes you feel any better, I've clearly been "living under a rock" too.

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How could you not start this answer with "To take care of her New Girl" :-p – KharoBangdo Mar 31 at 11:50
It truly was a missed opportunity. I'm disappointed with myself now. – Andrew Martin Mar 31 at 12:33

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