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How New Amsterdam Has Already Dropped Clues About Helen's Decision And Sharpwin Heartache, According To The Executive Producers

New Amsterdam will soon return to NBC for its fifth and final season, but the lineup is going to look very different due to the absence of Helen Sharpe. Actress Freema Agyeman has left the series following the heartbreaking end of Season 4, which presumably means the end of Max and Helen’s relationship. Executive producers David Schulner and Peter Horton spoke with CinemaBlend about clues that fans may have missed about Helen’s decision, as well as the heartache on the way when it comes to Sharpwin. 

Freema Agyeman has been a key part of New Amsterdam (and Max’s life) going back to the beginning of the series, and the Season 4 finale that featured Helen breaking off their wedding didn’t actually establish that she wouldn’t be coming back at all. (You can revisit the finale streaming with a Peacock subscription.) When I spoke with the executive producers ahead of the Season 5 premiere, they addressed how early they found out that Agyeman wouldn’t be back so that they could plan ahead for Season 5. David Schulner said:

Well, we actually knew at the end of Season 3 that she might not even come back for Season 4. Freema graciously let us know very early, where her head was. And so Season 4 was the gift for us. So we planted things along the way that we could – if you were watching closely, you would see that there were issues, that things weren't all perfect. So allowing that extra season for us, gave us the runway we needed for her departure.

Fans actually lucked out in Freema Agyeman staying on for Season 4, which provided a season of showing Max and Helen finally in a relationship together after years of will they/won’t they tension and a big kiss in the Season 3 finale. Plus, the New Amsterdam team dropped some clues into Season 4 to guarantee that Helen’s absence in Season 5 could make sense. 

Considering that there were obvious clues along the way that Helen wasn’t as caught up in the idea of getting married ASAP as Max was, it makes sense that there were hints that fans might have missed that Helen wouldn’t return to New Amsterdam. She had some struggles with her mother and her life back in London, and it’s probably safe to say that their separation after Max returned to New York didn’t help matters, although only time (and the upcoming Season 5 finale) will tell for sure. 

While there were hints along the way, however, there was the hope that Freema Agyeman would return for Season 5, as EP Peter Horton said:

We were hoping she'd stay all the way up until the end of last season, and then it became clear that she felt it was time to move on. Like David said, we were prepared for it. It wasn't our first choice, but prepared.

Of course, the news that Season 5 would be the last came back in March, which was several months after the fourth season premiered. They didn’t know early on that the series finale was on the way in the next TV season, so it should be interesting to see how New Amsterdam moves Max forward with only 13 episodes left. The good news is that most of the cast will be back! 

So, was there a goal of bringing Sharpwin together as a reward for fans who had been rooting for them for so long, before having to say goodbye to Helen? David Schulner shared:

Yes, though, I'm sure that they would disagree with me. [laughs] But yes, I wanted to give as much love as possible, but also make it realistic. Obviously two people who've come crashing together have a lot of unresolved issues and feelings and conversations that hadn't happened and happened in ways that are unexpected. You know, 22 episodes can't be just, you know, running through the forest.

It wouldn’t be a TV show if everything went perfectly for a whole season! When I noted that it was going well enough for a while there before the cracks started to show and Helen made that fateful phone call to Max in the finale, Schulner responded: 

Hopefully [they were] issues that people in a real relationship can relate with. And watching Max and Helen struggle through the same things they were struggling with, gives them a little hope and power.

It’s not clear just yet if fans should give up hope of ever seeing or hearing from Helen again before the end of the fifth and final season, but the upcoming Season 5 premiere should yield some answers. Tune in to NBC for the return of New Amsterdam on Tuesday, September 20 at 10 p.m. ET.

The show returns on a stacked night of premieres, with fellow medical drama The Resident returning for its sixth season, as well as all three entries in CBS’ FBI franchise and Fox’s freshman series Monarch. Be sure to check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule to plan ahead for when to watch your favorite shows coming back to primetime.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.