The Good Place to end after 4 seasons, creator Mike Schur explains its message

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Mike Schur has had a thriving career. He was a producer and writer (and actor) on The Office. He co-created Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and he’s the creator of The Good Place (and those are only a handful of hs credits). If you were near an internet connection on Friday night, you probably heard that The Good Place is ending after its fourth season. Schur made the announcement at its For Your Consideration Emmy panel, and posted a message on Twitter. While the announcement might have come as a surprise to fans, wasn’t a surprise to the cast and crew, which Schur explained in this thoughtful interview with The Hollywood Reporter, in which he devotes a lot of time to discussing ethics, unsurprisingly.

The Good Place is part of philosophical wave of shows that explore what it means to be human. What kind of message do you hope to send in general with the show?
I hope one of the takeaways is that ethics is a really important discipline. Ethics and living an ethical life or trying to live an ethical life is incredibly important to me and I hope it’s important to other people. … I hope the main lesson of the show, in terms of ethics, is that the important thing is that you try and you’re aware that ethics matter and are factoring them in to your decision making at all times as best you can…

And there’s a downside — if you think about it too much, you become Chidi and you don’t do anything. So putting a filter on your life that when you have to make decisions, you do a quick check at the end with your ethical compass and say, “What am I doing? Why am I doing it? And could I be doing something better?” It’s not that hard. This show is taking a very simple and obvious position that it’s better to live that way than to not live that way. That’s one of the main messages of the show. The other one comes from that book, What We Owe to Each Other, the actual philosophy of that book is complicated and it involves a lot of hard to untangle social theory stuff. It basically says if you’re setting up a society, you should do it through a system where everyone has a vote and anybody can veto anybody else’s idea… But the larger sense of that book, to me, is that we owe things to each other. That you start from a position of owing things to other people and that your life should be led with that in mind all the time. That this is not an everyman or -woman for him or herself situation. That we have obligations to each other and it’s up to us to take care of each other; and that no one can really live a full and happy life without the support of other people. So, it’s incumbent upon each person to provide that help, love and support for other people to the best of his or her ability.

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

Schur said that he planned that the show would probably be four seasons, and initially talked to the writers about it so that they could write with that in mind. He told the actors while they were wrapping up Season 3 so that they could plan their careers and lives, which was thoughtful of him and I’m sure they appreciated it. I watched the first season of The Good Place sporadically while I was writing my dissertation, and then, like most TV-watching, it fell by the wayside, but I’ve occasionally read spoilers. This interview makes me want to bump it up in my queue. Schur really seems to care about the quality and integrity of the show; he knew that it wasn’t an idea that could sustain itself over 10 (or more) years, and so has never had any interest in pushing it that far. And, he genuinely seems to care about the cast and crew, too. (Though Schur doesn’t specifically mention the crew, I’m assuming he didn’t keep them in the dark.)

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37 Responses to “The Good Place to end after 4 seasons, creator Mike Schur explains its message”

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  1. Lucy2 says:

    I love the show, it’s funny, brilliant, and thought-provoking. While I’m sad to see it end soon, I’m really glad it was planned out and they will give it a proper ending.
    I hope Schur has some other good shows in the works, I love pretty much every show he’s done.

  2. Franklymydear... says:

    Love, love, love this show!! Ted Danson is so brilliantly funny and the rest of the cast is great, too. Not every episode is hilarious, but most are or have at least a few one-liners that make me laugh out loud. Glad he knows when to quit, though, because every season I wonder what they will do next. Everyone should binge this show ASAP!! 🙂

  3. Tara says:

    I’m a huge fan of the office, park and rec and I think Schur is very talented, but I really dislike the Good place. It’s bland, not clever or funny. I was surprised to find out he was behind this show

    • Léna says:

      I guess to each their own, I enjoy the Good Place more than I enjoyed Park and Rec 🙂

    • Slowsnow says:

      I LOVE Parcs & Rec but I have a special place in my heart for TGP. It has philosophy and humour, my two favorite things. Not all episode are meant to have us in stitches as they tackle pretty serious things that somehow seem understandable. For that reason Chiddi is one of my favorite characters of all time…

    • Lucy2 says:

      It’s very different from his other shows. I love it, but can see it’s not for everyone.
      Brooklyn 99, Parks, and the Office are all like comfort food to me.

  4. sunnydaze says:

    Between this, Life in Pieces and my ultimate zone-out Ash vs, The Evil Dead I’m so, so bummed. I loved that TGP had a diverse cast, had some really thought provoking moments and enough comedy you could tell it knew exactly what it was. I had so many fun conversations with my husband during this show, just about life, spirituality, religious dogma, all the existential things. But, I’m looking forward to getting my parents into it 🙂

    • Cay says:

      My big complaint about the “diversity” of the show was that it only seemed to be in the racial make-up of the cast. Yes, I know that’s important, but the show so rarely seemed to take on philosophy that deviated from our Western European civilization ideas of religion, philosophy, and good vs. bad. I didn’t watch season 3, so maybe he tackled those ideas in that season, but it was so heavy on Judeo-Christian afterlife ideals that it was hard for me to handle. There is way more to “religion” and “spirituality” than what was shown on the program.

      • BeanieBean says:

        That’s fairly typical of American attempts at diversity. They really only mean visible diversity. We’ve got a ways to go yet.

      • sunnydaze says:

        Obviously there is more to spirituality and religion. But this was a comedy show. And for a comedy show with around 23 minutes to get and keep someone’s attention, I thought it was a fun way to explore topics that are deeply complex. Also, because this was meant as a prime-time(ish) show, like most other shows I’ve seen the Judeo-Christian take on afterlife God, etc. is the one prominently featured. As an atheist, I’m always annoyed at any religion being a focus (when’s the last time a movie or show focused on being religious, moving to atheism, and there’s a happy ending?), and I wasn’t even too keen on giving this a try, but it’s not really about religion. The focus on Judeo-Christian beliefs/mythology I imagine is “easy” for a bulk of the target population to understand, even in a basic way. So to use it as a backdrop for a comedy show that has about 23 minutes to convince an audience it’s worth while I get why they picked this. And as for diversity, yeah it was the cast. But that’s a start. If anything I learned who Jameela Jamil is (and have positively fallen in love with and will watch anything she’s in), Manny Jacinto (so hilarious, another person I’m actively looking for in other movies and shows), and William Jackson Harper. But for these three, this show was a big deal. Credits beforehand were pretty sparse, and I’m so excited this show provided an introduction, and hopefully will put them on the radar for other, bigger projects.

  5. Lizzie says:

    i think everyone that worked on the office learned a big lesson. the show was pitch perfect and then….lasted two seasons too long. the last season was painful compared to the first few. schur took that lesson to parks and rec where he ended on a high note and is doing the same here. i think after the recent game of thrones debacle – fans would agree they would much rather have a show end well than drag on and be ultimately disappointing.

    • launicaangelina says:

      I agree with you. The Office was excellent until the end of Season 7.

      I love The Good Place, but always understood that extending this unique story concept for too long would be difficult.

  6. Veronica S. says:

    At least they’re getting a decent amount of time to wrap up the story – the cast of Santa Clarita Diet and Lucifer were not so fortunate this past couple months, and the latter is a particularly egregious case because the hype and the numbers were there, so nobody understands why it wasn’t a lock for the two more seasons the writers were clearly expecting to get. (They got one, which is better than nothing, but definitely not the amount of time they expected to wrap up a major arc.)

    Netflix has been severely testing my patience for the past year because the entire reason I have a streaming service is to see shows free of network interference, so if they think I’m going to tolerate wasting my money on a service where the shows I get into are cancelled after 2-3 seasons, we’ve got a problem. I don’t mind sensible planning around an established ending the way Good Place is going out, but when it’s cancelled partway through an arc, it’s so dissatisfying.

    • Kebbie says:

      The Santa Clarita Diet cancellation was really disappointing. Netflix just keeps doing that. I’m always reluctant to get into a Netflix original because of their history.

      • Veronica S. says:

        Netflix is running scared over WB and Disney starting their own streaming services is what I suspect. All of them are angling to knock Netflix down a peg to maintain their corporate domination of the market, which is so frustrating from a creativity standpoint. At some point, they’re going to wind up shooting themselves in the foot because people will just get fed up with it. I don’t care about the movies on Netflix – I can always pick them up cheap elsewhere. I’m here for the original series because streaming had advantages over network TV. But why bother putting all this money into new series if you’re just going to cancel them after 2-3 seasons? Where’s the enjoyment in that?

    • TQB says:

      Lucifer is getting a 5th season… ?

      • Veronica S. says:

        Yeah, they just announced it a few days ago along with the notice that it would be the final season. I feel really bad for the writers and cast because they were so enthusiastic about the numbers and reception to season four and were talking in social media posts about the big ideas they had for the show’s major secondary arc, and now it’s like…well, guess we have to rush it through with one season! And as somebody who does creative writing, I kind of hurt for them, because it’s like…what the hell does it take for a show to be renewed then? The hype machine around season four was INSANE. The fans loved it! The numbers competed with the GoT finale episodes! So why not give them two good seasons to wrap it up properly?

        The rumors around the cancellation is that it likely has to do with the Disney and WB move to create their own streaming service. WB actually owns the property rights to Lucifer, so it’s entirely possibly they were either going to yank it regardless or demand an enormous sum to keep it. So then it’s just like…well, that sucks! It may have been a trash show, but it was MY trash show, and I’m sad to see it go out a season short of the story they wanted to tell. If corporate centralization is hindering creativity to the extent that even successful entertainment can’t get proper funding, imagine how much independent work is getting lost in the shuffle!

    • Sojaschnitzel says:

      I quit my netflix subscription because of this exact point. The cancellation of Santa Clarita Diet just really didn’t make sense for me and gave me the entertainment equivalent of trust issues.

  7. Kebbie says:

    I love Mike Schur’s shows. Parks and Rec, TGP, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine all have a similar feel-good energy. They’re just intelligent and good-spirited shows. He just signed a massive five year, $25 million/year contract with Universal so I look forward to seeing what he does next.

    • TQB says:

      Yes, I will cry a lot to see TGP go, but I am already looking forward to whatever he comes up with next.

    • Snowslow says:

      I have a hard time with Brooklyn Nine-Nine for some reason. It does not seem as sophisticated and intelligent as his other work. For instance, there are no characters that stand out for me like Leslie Knope, April, Ron, Chiddi, Michael, Janet… It does not make me laugh at all. Parcs and Rec had that low-fi kind of tone, like the Office, but the character development and the work-theme (the ethics) was there in such a satisfactory, yes, feel good way… I dunno.

      • Lucy2 says:

        B99 is much sillier than Parks or the Office. Similar in many ways, but definitely a sillier tone.

      • Veronica S. says:

        I have…really mixed feelings about B99. On one hand, it is funny and silly, but the subject matter is really tone deaf to me. I don’t think the political climate is a good place for a story that romanticizes the justice system when media tech is giving us a light into just how ugly and problematic modern police forces are.

  8. Cay says:

    As I’ve stated many times on this site, “The Good Place” had dismal ratings last year. Other than “The Office,” most of Mike Schur’s shows don’t have great ratings. I was a huge fan of “Parks and Rec” (never had great ratings) and watched the first 2 seasons of “The Good Place.” Then I, like many other people, stopped. It’s fine that he is saying that he planned to stop the series at 4 seasons, but I don’t think that was the intention when it began. It’s a short-season show (only 12 or 13 episodes), and it will be on for only 4 seasons. That’s the equivalent of what used to be 2 full seasons of network TV. I know things have changed since streaming services, but by the end of last season, the only way people were watching this show was on Netflix. “Brooklyn 99” also has very low ratings. My guess is that it will also be the last season for that show.

    • Lucy2 says:

      This is not correct.
      The live ratings have been lower, but its delayed viewing numbers have increased, and when that’s taken into account, it’s then NBC’s highest rated comedy. There’s an article on deadline about it from the end of last year.
      It’s also very popular on streaming services. I think if they wanted a 5th season, they’d get it.

      • Cay says:

        I think we may be saying kind of the same thing. Here’s what “Variety” had to say about it.

        “At the upfronts, NBC proclaimed that “The Good Place” is actually its most-viewed series — thanks to non-linear viewership. In the traditional total viewers ranker, which does feature seven days of time shifting, the comedy barely squeaks into the top 100.”

        “Non-linear viewership” is what has saved “The Good Place.” You call it “delayed viewing numbers” and I called it the Netflix effect. We’re saying the same things. People aren’t watching it in its scheduled TV slot.

      • lucy2 says:

        The delayed viewing I’m talking about the live + 3 days, live + 7, DVR, and digital viewing (on demand and NBC/Hulu streaming of the new episodes) – all of the things NBC takes into consideration for renewal. Not Neflix. US Netflix only has seasons 1 and 2 on it right now anyway.

        Very few shows are watched live in their time slot anymore, and TGP is no exception, but my point is it does well enough for NBC that I think they’d have given them another season if Schur wanted to, and that it’s still a popular show, not solely watched on Netflix.

        I do agree this will probably be the final season for Brooklyn 99, as most casts are signed on for 7 years, I think. It’s ratings are still low, but higher than they were on Fox. I’ll be sad for it to end, but really happy NBC saved it.

    • Kebbie says:

      Brooklyn Nine-Nine was renewed last month.

      NBC Universal just signed Mike Schur to a five year deal, paying him $25 million a year. They’re obviously happy with him and profiting off of him greatly to be making that kind of financial commitment. Ratings aren’t really how a show’s worth is measured anymore.

  9. Cay says:

    One more thing, just how “ethical” is it to announce this at the Emmy consideration panel? I mean, it certainly seems like they are asking to be nominated before they go off the air. Please.

  10. Mox says:

    Good call. The show is fun but seemed to be running out of material by the start of the 3rd season. Wrapping it up and finishing fairly strong is a wise decision.

    • ME says:

      I agree. I wonder how the show will end. I hope they don’t go the “it was all just a dream” route.

  11. Amelie says:

    Parks & Rec will always be my favorite comedy. I discovered the show after it was off the air and I rewatch it at least once a year. It’s like comfort food to me. The writing, the acting, the comedic timing, and in general just the representation of local government in a mid-sized town in Indiana were always spot on for me. I loved the world building of that show and how real all the characters felt like to me. I can easily rewatch it anytime. It’s probably one of the only shows I would compare to a great book where you can get lost and reunited with your fave characters.

    I also love the Good Place, not as much as Parks & Rec but it’s a show I can also easily rewatch. The cast is great and has great chemistry. I’m mostly sad I will no longer be able to watch Janet and Michael (Darcy Carden and Ted Danson). I would watch a spinoff show of just the two of them. I had never heard of Darcy before and her portrayal of Janet is just amazing. Honestly the weakest of the cast for me is Kristen Bell. I’m sad to see the show go but it wasn’t a premise that could go on for more than few seasons. I’m glad they are wrapping it up before it got to be too long winded.

    • Kebbie says:

      Really? I think Kristen Bell makes the show. I don’t really care for her in real life, but she’s great in her roles, IMO. Eleanor Shellstrop and Veronica Mars are two of my favorite tv characters of all time.

    • Snowslow says:

      True, I also find it really annoying that Kristen Bell got the role, she is clearly not great. Also the clothes and general portrayal of the type of amoral person she is supposed to be is not accurate in my opinion. It needed a more sensual/snappy person. Manny though… Don’t get me started. So good. I all the possible ways.

  12. Alyse says:

    I love this show, but I think it makes sense to end on top (like Schitt’s Creek) and with a proper plotting plan.