‘The Good Place’ Creator Reveals How the Series Changed His Life and What It Means to Be a Good Person

The Good Place is coming to an end after four seasons; the final episode will air Jan. 30, 2020. The NBC show, developed by Michael Schur (also the creator of Parks and Recreation and formerly a writer on The Office), recently sat down with the Daily Beast to discuss the series finale. Schur admitted that working on The Good Place, which dives into big, universal questions and mysteries, changed the way he thought about what it means to be a good human.

The Good Place cast
Drew Goddard, Manny Jacinto, Ted Danson, Kristen Bell, Michael Schur, D’Arcy Carden, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil and Marc Evan Jackson attend the 2019 Comic-Con | Araya Diaz/Getty Images

Now that season 4 is coming to an end, how does ‘The Good Place’ creator feel about the afterlife

The Last Laugh host, Matt Wilstein asked Schur on the podcast if working on The Good Place changed his feelings about what comes after death.

“I don’t know that I had a theory before the show,” Schur said of the idea of “the afterlife.” He’s never believed in one version of it, anyway.

“I’m not a particularly religious person,” he explained. “My sort of pat answer for a very long time now has been like, ‘I don’t know’ … Who could possibly claim to know?”

The Good Place
Producer Michael Schur of The Good Place | Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

However, Schur revealed that he has been transformed by the experience overall.

“The things that have changed in my personal world view have less to do with what happens after we die and more to do with what matters while we’re on earth,” he said.

How writing and producing the episodes of the comedy show made Michael Schur a better person

Schur says rather than transforming his views on the afterlife, The Good Place altered how he looked at his life and his actions on earth.

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? Why shouldn’t we do them or why should we do them? That kind of stuff I think has changed for me.

Schur clarified: “Not like, I used to think it was cool to rob banks, or something and now I don’t.” But: “what are the underpinnings of why actions matter or don’t matter?” Schur credits all the “annoying reading” he and the writers did. The Good Place writers did a lot of research on philosophy to read in order to inform Chidi’s character, as well as the overall moral journey of the show.

‘The Good Place’ creator: if you read enough philosophy, you ‘become Chidi’

“If you read enough of this stuff and think about it enough, you become Chidi,” he said. Schur continued, “you become paralyzed” by “the simplest moral calculation.” Still, Schur says the outcome was positive.

The Good Place
Ted Danson as Michael, Kristen Bell as Eleanor | Colleen Hayes/NBC

“That is a joy,” he said. “That is a really enormous gift that this experience has given to me.” Why? Schur explains it gives him purpose. Being a good person, especially on a small scale, often can feel meaningless in the grand scheme of things–especially in the trying times we live in. But Schur’s philosophy homework paid off:

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.’

What Michael Schur has to say about ‘The Good Place’ series finale

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.”

Schur acknowledged that “endings are hard, emotionally.” But on The Good Place ending, he said, “I feel good.”

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“We put a lot of time into thinking about The Good Place finale,” Schur shared. “It took a lot of hard work.” Especially, as he told Wilstein, The Good Place deals with universal truths and philosophical challenges.

“The themes of this show are very intense,” Schur explained, especially in contract to Parks and Rec. “It’s not like, ‘I wonder whether Leslie Knope becomes the governor.’” The Good Place is indeed “after a bigger fish.” However, Schur is proud of his writers’ room’s work on the series finale.

“I think we got it right,” The Good Place creator said on the podcast. “I hope we did. We’ll find out!”