“The Good Place” creator Mike Schur perfectly explained why you shouldn’t always “just be yourself”
The Good Place, premiering this fall on NBC, is the latest offering from Mike Schur. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Mike Schur is responsible (or at very least partially responsible) for a whole slew of your favorite shows — The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. With a resume like that, Schur could pitch just about any workplace ensemble you could imagine and networks would clamor for it.
But this time, Schur is changing things up. The Good Place, starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, is about Eleanor, a less-than-nice lady who dies and accidentally ends up in the Good Place. The Good Place is very, verryyyyyy exclusive, so Eleanor knows she wasn’t meant to be there (plus, the constant references to her impressive volunteer work and career as a death row lawyer — none of which is from her actual life — are a good hint that there was a serious mix-up). The show is hilarious (the pilot screened this Thursday at San Diego Comic-Con and totally lived up to the viral trailer).
The show will explore what it means to be a good person and what it takes to change if you aren’t one. Schur told the audience at the show’s Comic-Con panel that the inspiration for the series (and the not-nice Eleanor) came from sitting at intersections and observing people breaking traffic etiquette.
“It came largely from being at an intersection in my car and the light turning green and then people going the other way turning left through their yellow light to go back the other way from where I was going,” he explained again for press after the panel. “In my opinion, two cars are allowed to do that. And sometimes there’s a third car and I would get a little annoyed, but I would give them the benefit of the doubt and say, ‘Maybe your kid is sick and you have to get home and see your kid.’ And then sometimes there’s a fourth car and I’m like, ‘You’re a bad person. You’re putting your need to go left above the needs of all of these people to go straight and that’s not okay.’ So I started imagining that person.”
And what if you are that person? You should stop. You should be better — even if that’s just you being yourself.
“There’s a writer on the staff named Aisha Muharrar, who was also a writer on Parks and Recreation, and she has this really wonderful rant that she goes on sometimes and what she says is that the advice just be yourself is terrible advice and the reason it’s terrible advice is because people use that as an excuse to behave terribly,” Schur explained enthusiastically. “They do whatever they want and then they go, ‘Look I’m just being myself.’”
The show directly addresses this idea, which is something Schur obviously feels strongly about (and, you kind of have to admit, he has a point).
“The fourth episode is basically like, no don’t be yourself, be better. Be a better version of yourself. Improve yourself. Don’t just act how, don’t just be a jerk and then just say, ‘This is just me. This is who I am,’ and think that’s an okay excuse to be a terrible person.”
If The Good Place can succeed in making the real world a little better, on top of all the laughs we know it’s going to bring, then it might just be the most important show of the new season. Consider our DVRs set.