Did Stuart ever consider Jessica to be an option before?
The backstory in our minds was that the girl who previously occupied the guesthouse is the bride in Season 1's wedding episode. So when that girl moved out, Jessica moved in. Stuart probably hit on Jessica subtly on Day 1. He helped her move her things, but only the light bags -- nothing too heavy. She was very clear that she wasn't interested in him, so he quickly gave up and they slid into this friendly banter. That was the point at which we joined the series, the idea that they were quite confortable with each other.
In this special, we wanted to take that to the next natural stage, and have them realize that they are actually already sharing their lives with each other. She's always been more mature than him romantically, so he had to grow up enough for her to consider him seriously.
Did Stuart realize his immaturity before Jessica levels with him?
I think he was moving in that direction. Sometimes you can feel things about yourself, but they aren't confirmed until someone else vocalizes them. We liked the idea that Jessica was being very honest, and that it was hard for her to be blunt like that. It was a lesson that Stuart needed to hear and probably confirmed things that he felt about himself, which is why he sulked and made her move out. Then he's forced to consider what she said, and it dawns on him that he has to accept that she's right.
We were also trying to slightly subvert a lot of romantic comedies where it's the other way around and the guy says he's not interested. It seemed more interesting somehow that she's sort of in charge in that situation.
Do you subscribe to Stuart's percentages theory?
To a degree. I that it's a realistic version of something we all come to realize as we get older and more mature: that the person we're with is not an angel. I think that the truth is people do have a percentage; it's just that they aren't aware of it when they're happy; relationships fall apart because the percentages are unbalanced. I think there's something very sweet about Jessica and Stuart having the honesty to say the truth to one another. Somehow I find that more sexy.
In the rom-com tradition, the film would end after Stuart and Jessica get together initially.
Exactly. Even at the end, we wanted it to feel hopeful and optimistic. I think they will stay together. But the song I chose there has the lyric, "There's a long way to go," because I think that's true. It's not over. That scene was trying to be slightly playful with the idea of the Hollywood romantic comedy. The reality is, when a couple kisses in the rain at the end of a rom-com, the rest of their lives are ahead of them.
Obviously the great Mike Nichols just died and 'The Graduate' is a beautifully romantic film in many ways, but it ends on that ambiguous note of the two of them on the bus. That's a great subversion of the classic rom-com tradition. The stuff with Jessica and Stuart floating in the pool, not quite sure where their lives are going, was directly inspired by 'The Graduate.'
What did you envision in a woman who was right for Wade?
We did have a deleted scene where you see Wade trying to hit on a waitress with techniques that he picked up from Kives and Stuart. What's obvious is that Wade was never comfortable with the "Stuart approach" to picking up girls. We wanted to give him some happiness because he went through a tough time in the first season. It just seemed lovely to us that he'd find someone who was romantic and shared his outlook on the world.
What did Allison Tolman bring to the role?
I wasn't familiar with Alison beforehand; We just saw her on an audition tape and we thought, "This girl's brilliant." She's so funny and warm. You have just an immediate affection for her as soon as the camera hits her. You can sense that her and Wade are going to be OK.