‘The Good Place’ Creator on The Series Finale: ‘I Think We Got It Right’
Fans of the NBC show The Good Place have one more week to see how the entire universe ends. (For Eleanor, Chidi, and the rest of the gang, anyway). The popular comedy series was created by Michael Schur, also the showrunner on Parks and Recreation. (Before that, he worked on The Office and Saturday Night Live). Recently, Schur revealed in an interview how he felt about finding an ending for a show like The Good Place, which explores life’s biggest questions and philosophical mysteries.
Michael Schur on what he learned about from the series finale of ‘Parks and Recreation’
Schur joined Matt Wilstein on the Daily Beast podcast The Last Laugh to discuss the series finale of The Good Place, among his other work. Wilstein commented on the fact that Schur has been a part of two shows (The Office and Parks and Rec) that had a large fanbase. After multiple seasons, this meant there was a lot of pressure on those series finales. Did those experiences inform how The Good Place ended?
Schur explained that while he learned a lot about how to end a show from his time on Parks and Recreation, it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation.
“Every show is different,” he said. “Every show has its own sort of like, set of themes, and ideas.” His main takeaway from the Parks and Recreation finale?
“I think the most important I took from that I was: ‘man, this is hard and we really gotta think about it.'” But he said the Good Place writers put in the effort.
‘The Good Place’ series finale: what went into the final episode of season 4
“Endings are hard, emotionally” Schur acknowledged. But regarding The Good Place series ending, he said, “I feel good.”
“We put a lot of time into thinking about The Good Place finale,” Schur told Wilstein. “It took a lot of hard work.” Especially, as he explained, because the matters at hand are literally life and death.
“The themes of this show are very intense,” Schur said. “It’s not like, ‘I wonder whether Leslie Knope becomes the governor.’” In comparison to Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is “after a bigger fish.” But Schur thinks the writers’ room pulled it off.
“I think we got it right,” he said on the podcast. “I hope we did. We’ll find out!”
‘The Good Place’ creator on whether he has a new perspective on the afterlife
The Last Laugh host also asked Schur if working on The Good Place changed his belief about the afterlife.
“I don’t know that I had a theory before the show,” Schur replied. “I’m not a particularly religious person.” His opinion is basically: “Who could possibly claim to know?”
He said while that hasn’t changed, other things have:
The show has given me … a better and more clear kind of worldview about what matters. What are the things that we do that we should do? What are the things that we shouldn’t do?
The Good Place showrunner clarified his thought.
“Not like, I used to think it was cool to rob banks, or something and now I don’t.” More like: “what are the underpinnings of why actions matter or don’t matter?” And while for Chidi, this information is often paralyzing, Schur has found it freeing.
“That is a joy,” he said. “That is a really enormous gift that this experience has given to me.” He went on:
I feel like I’m not flailing around trying to put words or an explanation to what I believe about what humans should do with their time. I now can say, ‘Well, here’s why! Here’s why it matters. Here are the philosophical underpinnings of human behavior and actions and morality and ethics.’
Schur credits all the “annoying reading” (philosophy research) he and the writers did for the show.
Ultimately, Schur is grateful for the whole experience on The Good Place.
“We were, in a very rare way, able to execute the show from beginning to end exactly the way we wanted to,” he said. “So any complaints are entirely my fault.”