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Michael Schur explains The Good Place's penultimate episode and why the show is echoing real-life politics

  • "It starts, as all things on this show do, with philosophy," Schur says of Thursday's episode. "A lot of the reading that we did and a lot of the discussions we had over four years was about this inescapable truth that any version of eternity is bad; you cannot design an eternity that is satisfying because when things go on forever everything loses meaning." He adds of incorporating the real world into the storyline: "We recognized very quickly in discussing the story that this is echoing a real-life political and moral question that people face a lot and that has been hotly debated, but it’s not the first time that’s happened. A couple of episodes earlier when they’re trying to redesign the afterlife and Chidi is talking about that Judith Sklar essay 'Putting Cruelty First,' he explicitly says there’s a problem in real-life moral justice — which is that people commit crimes that are not cruel and then their punishment is cruel. There’s an asymmetry there. That is very obviously and consciously attempting to be a discussion about criminal justice in America and elsewhere. And one of the most fun aspects of making this show is we had all of these guest lecturers come in to teach these classes, and when we were breaking that part of the season we had DeRay Mckesson come in and he talked about Black Lives Matter, he talked about criminal justice reform — and specifically the idea of how cruel punishments are in America for crimes committed that are in no way cruel. That was really intense and fun and interesting and gave us a lot to chew on."


    • The Good Place doesn't need a love story: "What makes a romance work on television? Complication, intrigue, warmth, and of course the bond between the actors themselves," says Angelica Jade Bastién. "Chemistry is the kind of magic no amount of good writing can engender, that no hard work amongst actors can force into being. The complications of Chidi and Eleanor’s relationship — the constant reboots that wiped their slates clean — shouldn’t create distance between the audience and these characters, but make us root for them even more when faced with the impossible. For all of Kristen Bell and William Jackson Harper’s impressive efforts, Chidi and Eleanor simply don’t have the kind of swooning chemistry necessary to make the twists in the story of their romance work. Every time Chidi and Eleanor kissed or declared their love for one another, I was left feeling nothing at all. Or worse yet, annoyed, because the lack of romance serves to highlight how marvelously their chemistry works within a friendship instead."
    • The Good Place became network TV's last great sitcom by daring its audience to be better

    TOPICS: The Good Place, NBC, Michael Schur