‘Ya Basic’: 15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘The Good Place’

A teenage Janet? Get the fork outta here
‘Ya Basic’: 15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘The Good Place’

Featuring quite possibly the best Season One plot twist in sitcom history and more food puns than made-up swear words, The Good Place tackled ethics and moral philosophy while making fun of folks obsessed with shrimp and froyo. While other shows would be content to play it safe and let things drag out, The Good Place was able to consistently switch things up across just four seasons. Still, that brief moment in time unleashed more than enough tidbits for us to grab a warm pretzel, get forking comfortable and dive right into...

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Janet Was Almost a Teenage Boy

It turns out that a young boy also auditioned for the part of Janet, leaving D’Arcy Carden feeling adamant that he’d get the part. “When I went in for my first audition, an older woman was after me — much older — and a 16-year-old boy was before me, auditioning for Janet,” Carden recalled. “So they really didn’t know what they wanted. A 16-year-old boy! Who, by the way, is a genius. When I saw him, I remember texting a friend who had done a movie with him, and I was like, ‘I’m auditioning after him. Why am I even here? He’s of course going to get it.’”

The Number 322

The number 322, which kept popping up throughout the show, refers to Skull and Bones (Order 322), a Yale secret society that counts George W. Bush and Steven Mnuchin among its members. “It’s so dumb,” Michael Schur said on the show’s NBC podcast. “One of the people who works on our show may or may not have been in (Skull and Bones), and may or may not have told us he was in it when you’re not supposed to do that.”


The Scene Where Chidi Meets Hypatia of Alexandria Was Very Real

William Jackson Harper said that the scene where Lisa Kudrow plays Hypatia and meets Chidi was him actually getting starstruck in real time. “Chidi has a complete fangirl moment — that was not acting,” he told BuzzFeed. “That was just me getting to geek out over Lisa Kudrow. I lost my mind.”

Michael Schur Did a Lot of Research on Religion

Schur told The Hollywood Reporter that he initially did a deep dive into theology before deciding that he didn’t want to make it a religious show. “I stopped doing research because I realized it’s about versions of ethical behavior, not religious salvation,” Schur said after looking at theological studies and studying essays on holy documents. “The show isn’t taking a side; the people who are there are from every country and religion.”

There Are a Couple of Damon Lindelof Easter Eggs Throughout the Show

Schur, a big fan of Lost and The Leftovers, ended up befriending creator Damon Lindelof and picking his brain. Schur revealed to Vulture that many Easter eggs referencing The Leftovers are scattered throughout the show. For instance, in the pilot, “There’s a picture on the wall of a stoner from Calgary, who is the human who has come the closest to guessing what the afterlife is like, Doug Forcett,” Schur explained. “He’s sort of famous in the afterlife, because he took a bunch of mushrooms and was like, ‘Here’s what I think it is,’ and he got the closest. The date on the picture, the date of his guess, is October 14, 1972. October 14th is the date of the departure in The Leftovers. Also, at the end of the first season, Eleanor gets a new soul mate, and that new soul mate is a jacked idiot from Teaneck, New Jersey. Teaneck is Damon’s hometown.”

’Megan Amram’s Brain’

That’s the title of the show’s master Google doc filled with all those shop title puns. It was named after one of the show’s writers, who is considered the Queen of Puns. Schur compared Megan Amram’s brain to the computer of Lost, “where if you didn’t enter the code and press enter every like 100 minutes or whatever else, the world would end. That’s Megan’s brain with puns. If Megan doesn’t make a pun every 37 minutes, her brain will overheat, and her head will explode, and she’ll die.”


The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Inspiration

The always fantastic Maya Rudolph played Judge Gen in the show and revealed that she modeled her character after late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Judge Gen does, however, still have plenty of that Rudolph flair going on.

Schur Created the Show After Watching People Being Shitty in L.A.

On Marketplace, Schur said that after Parks and Recreation, he was driving around Los Angeles when he noticed people just being their worst selves. He started playing a game with himself based on folks’ behavior. “Like if anyone was keeping score — ‘What you did right there, sir, cutting me off in traffic, you just lost eight points,’” Schur explained. “And I started thinking about a world where actions have actual point values that can be measured and analyzed and broken down, and that led me to the afterlife. And I thought, ‘What if it’s a game and the people with high scores get into the good place, and people with the lowest scores get into the bad place?’”

Manny Jacinto’s Audition Scenes Were Different Sides of Jason Mendoza

Actors didn’t get actual scenes from the show for their auditions, only bits to play with the characters. Jacinto said that he did two different sides when he auditioned for the part of Jason and secretly wished they’d incorporated both in the show. “The first scene was a job interview,” the actor explained. “It was to be, like, chief executive operations manager, and you can obviously tell from that I have no clue what I’m talking about. I go on to rant about my favorite subjects in school and all of these quirky little Jason Mendoza stories. In the second scene, the audition involved me and my buddy Pillboi, who you see in some of the flashbacks of Season One. It’s me pitching him a product about an energy drink/deodorant idea.”

D’Arcy Carden Found It Difficult to Play Janet in Her Original Form

The actress said she found it surprisingly challenging to play “straight-Janet” — the version we meet at the show’s beginning before the character goes somewhat off the rails.

“When you’re an actor, you’re supposed to react to things,” Carden explained. “You’re supposed to have an opinion on things, anything that your fellow actor says to you, you let it hit you and react. With Janet, you don’t do that. You know what it’s gonna be. It’s just positivity and light and helpfulness. Nothing gets under her skin.”

The Show Wasn’t Originally Going to Be Meta

Given that Ted Danson’s character is named Michael (like the show’s creator) and the architect of The Bad Place, folks quickly concluded that the show was a statement on artistic creation. Schur has said, though, that wasn’t his original intent, and he simply named Danson’s character after the archangel Michael after visiting Notre Dame. He did, however, reflect on what audiences were saying. “Everybody was like, ‘Oh, this is an interesting meta-commentary on the creative process because the main character has the same name as the guy who created the show,’” he has explained. “My initial response was, ‘Ha, ha, ha, you fools. No, there’s a much more complicated and intellectual historical reason for the reason he’s named Michael.’ And then after a while, I was like, ‘Well, maybe they’re right.’”

It Was Jameela Jamil’s First Acting Role

Jameela Jamil was a British TV show presenter before The Good Place came along. “I heard about the audition from my manager, and she put me up for it,” the actress who played Tahani told Vulture. “I was like, ‘No. I don’t know how to act! I’ve never acted before.’ My team wanted to send me to an audition to see if I could act out of a morbid curiosity. (Schur) was looking specifically for a woman of Middle Eastern descent, and they said, ‘Why don’t you just go and see what happens?’ I wanted to make the transition from hosting to comedy writing, so my manager was like, ‘You’re going to meet the comedy writer. Maybe you can meet him and get a comedy-writing job if you can’t act.”

There Wasn’t a Lot of Improv Because the Scripts Were So Tight

Carden said that while improvisation was welcomed, they didn’t have to go rogue because the scripts were just that good. “I love to improvise, and that’s where my background lies, but I still am like, ‘I don’t wanna waste anyone’s time on this,’” Carden told GQ. “What I am gonna come up with is not gonna be fresher or better than the amount of thought that these writers put in? It’s not like they were like, ‘How about this idea?’ If you go into the writers’ room, it looks like A Beautiful Mind. It’s truly like a murder plot, like they’re trying to figure out who killed who, pictures everywhere, and notes on a board. It is overwhelming to walk into the writers’ room. They know what they’re doing.”

Schur Said Working With Danson Felt Like Being on a Prank Show

Schur apparently found it hard to believe that Danson was not only doing his show but also calling him to express his appreciation. “Talk about a guy with nothing to prove, right?” Schur mused. “There’s been a lot of terrible behavior on the part of Hollywood actors for years, not just this current spate of deeply awful creepy behavior, but run-of-the-mill ‘I’m a jerk’ behavior. If you are a person who has worked for a long time and made a lot of people a lot of money, you can generally get away with being a jerk. You can treat people badly, you can be rude, you can be obnoxious, you can sort of do whatever you want. And Ted Danson calls me very frequently on the phone just to tell me that he had a fun time at work today. He’ll just say, like, ‘What fun, and the things I get to do, and it’s so wonderful, and just, thank you so much.’ It’s bizarre. It feels like you’re on a prank show.”

subtitle]There’s an Extra Season

Before airing the fourth and final season, NBC released a six-episode web series on their app called The Selection that served as a bridge between the last two seasons. The series revolves around the demon Shawn (played by Marc Evan Jackson) and his posse, who are in charge of choosing which humans to send to Michael’s Bad Place to sabotage his experiment.

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