[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Thursday's episode of Parks and Recreation. Read at your own risk!]
How did you decide to make Leslie pregnant now?
Mike Schur: It's the last major life milestone left for her, really. It's the big unanswered question that the show has dealt with from the beginning: What about a family? We assiduously made it not a thing that she was obsessed with or really focused on because her friends and her career are so important to her. It just felt like it was the right moment. She and Ben had a couple years where they were married and she has all these other things going on. Comedically speaking, it felt like a fun thing to do to drop it into her life at the least opportune possible moment.
I really think that the only weapon that TV has in this day in age is surprise. People have seen so many stories and so many incarnations in so many different shows. That's why we like to have our big moments be surprises. Andy and April's wedding, Leslie and Ben's wedding and Ron and Diane's wedding were all, to some degree, surprises that were sprung on people. That's why we decided to have Leslie not get pregnant in that finale, which always happens, but in Episode 19 when you're not expecting it.
Did you guys come up with this idea before you knew about the show's renewal?
Schur: We came up with it before we knew about next year, but it was very organic. We started talking about it at the beginning of the season. We felt that at some point this year, we needed to make this happen. We developed the idea about her professional life and once we did that, we thought it would be fun to have it at a moment of maximum stress. There's a moment in the finale where she's like, "This is the craziest week of my life. I'm trying to decide whether to take this job, and I'm pregnant and I'm speaking at a National Parks conference in San Francisco." She's literally standing on the pier in San Francisco. We decided towards the beginning of the year what would be most fun and exciting would be to make it happen at the moment of maximum personal forking paths for her.
Ben expresses his desire to have children before she tells him she's pregnant, but will he still be freaked out once he realizes he really does have a kid on the way?
Schur: Yeah, we'll see in the episode next week that he's so happy that he's going to be a dad, but he's an accountant and starts crunching numbers. This is something that all parents are very familiar with. You start crunching numbers and go, "Oh, sh--. $50,000 for one year of college, and that's 18 years from now!" His stressed-out, uptight accounting side gets the better of him. It's an interesting episode because you're in the position where Leslie's having to tell someone else to cool it and not stress out so much.
And he just burned that check from his dad!
Schur: There was a joke that happens after where this episode ends. We thought it was a nice ending to have them smile at each other as he realized what she means. In the script and the way we shot it, he says, "Oh my God, we're going to have a baby!" and they kiss and then he says, "Oh God, I just burned a check." And she goes, "What?!" and that was the end of it. We thought it was better to end it on a nice moment between them. We figured that people would figure out that you can have a check reissued. It's not the end of the world.
Leslie is getting pregnant right after her best friend Ann (Rashida Jones) gave birth. Will she turn to Ann for advice?
Schur: In the future, when it becomes a little more real, that will probably happen. But Rashida doesn't make any more appearances in the season, sadly. She's off doing 12 other things and conquering Hollywood. It would be a fair assumption that at some point Leslie will be seeking Ann's advice on raising a kid.
How will Leslie's pregnancy play into the final episodes of the season as she decides whether or not to take this job?
Schur: We've decided to do this crazy thing at the very end of the season that I don't want to spoil in any way. But it's a very gigantic move for the show, and all I'll say is that move that we do is literally the last 60 seconds of the hour-long finale. That will answer a lot of questions that people might have pertaining to all aspects of Leslie's life.