Michael Schur’s forking great afterlife comedy is back for its ongoing experiment of asking whether deeply imperfect humans can overcome their flaws post-death to become good people and earn their Good Place status for eternity.
A hallmark of the series is its twisty, existential narrative turns, so Schur is tight-lipped about what Eleanor’s impulsive season 2 finale trip to Australia to meet Chidi will mean for all of them. But our sister publication SFX magazine did get some other behind-the-scenes tidbits from the show’s creator that will reward you handsomely…
1. The Good Place and Bad Place are riddled with Easter eggs
Schur and his writers are all about layering puns and visual jokes for the audience to catch. As he reveals there’s a Bad Place pitchfork ad that says: “Timeless. Elegant. Triple Stabby.” But he says his favourite hidden joke last season was a Bad Place movie poster.
“It’s Pirates of the Caribbean 6: The Haunted Crow’s Nest, or Whatever. Who Gives a Crap. And at the bottom it says, ‘Playing in every theatre, everywhere, forever.’ I like it for many reasons but the number one reason is the implication is that those movies are made in Hell and then exported back here.”
2. The Good Place has shaped Kristen Bell's worldview
Ethics and morality are explored extensively in the series. “We were looking for something that Eleanor could actually teach Chidi at a crucial point when they are in Hell,” Schur reveals.
“We looked around the internet and found out that Jonathan Dancy, who is [actor] Hugh Dancy’s dad, is a famous philosopher in the UK. He popularised moral particularism, which says there are no absolutes, no moral rules or laws. You have to evaluate the morality of each particular situation at the particular time. So, I was like, ‘Shit that sounds interesting!’ but reading about it was very hard."
"I bought his book and read four pages and had to stop. So, Hugh Dancy is married to actress Claire Danes, and my wife is also a writer and was developing a TV show with Claire. She had a birthday party and Hugh was there and he explained moral particularism to me, and Kristen adopted that for Eleanor, and herself. It’s like a secret we put out there.”
3. The show's creator might well be lying to you
Everyone knows Janet is a reprogrammed guide from the Good Place but initially Schur didn’t want anyone to know. “When you cast people, the trades demand information so the networks provide it. This show was top secret and no one knew it was even set in the afterlife."
"So, I lied and wrote Janet’s description with the name Janet Della-Denunzio and said ‘She’s a violin salesman with a shady past.’ We sent that out and outlets wrote that. No one ever called me up to be like, ‘What the F, man? You lied!’ Now, I learned the bad lesson, which is I can do that every time.”
4. Chidi's accent will be explained
In the pilot, Chidi Anagonye was revealed to be Senegalese but his native French language was organically translated so Eleanor could understand him. How does that work now Chidi is a lecturer in Australia? “When I wrote that line, I didn’t know in season 3 they would spend a lot of time on Earth,” Schur reveals.
“So, in the season 2 finale, when you see Chidi delivering a lecture we had a lot of conversations about if it should be in English, French or Senegalese. At the read-through, Will [Jackson Harper] did this amazing Meryl Streep-level accent that blew everyone away. But I had this tangible fear that the chemistry between Will and Kristen would be screwed up, so I got freaked out. He speaks English and early in the season 3 premiere it explains why he doesn’t speak accented English.”
5. Tahani's greatest humblebrag is on its way
Schur admits that his favourite Tahani name drop was, “I haven’t been this upset since my good friend Taylor was so rudely upstaged by my other friend, Kanye.” But he teases that in the third season, “There’s a sequence where someone is asking Tahani a number of different questions, and the end of that scene has the best one. It’s a new twist on the celebrity name drop.”