Michael Schur Q&A: ‘The Good Place’ creator

“It’s not something I have a lot of experience with — living in the afterlife” jokes Michael Schur about creating his after-death comedy “The Good Place” (watch the exclusive video above). Without first hand heaven or hell experience, he says the idea for the series came from “driving around Los Angeles. I had this game I’d play when someone would do something annoying in traffic. I would assign a negative point value to that person’s actions. My own backstory for that game was, maybe someone’s keeping track. Like it’s a video game of positive and negative points. ‘Joke’s on you buddy, you might get home 18 seconds faster but you’ve lost a bunch of points.'”

The series is set in ‘The Good Place,’ a heaven-like afterlife run by Michael the angel (Ted Danson), for people who have scored enough ‘points’ in their life to earn a spot. In the pilot, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), arrives in ‘the Good Place’ despite having not lived a good life due to a mysterious clerical error. Schur explains, “I thought the funny thing would be if someone got into the wrong place. It was an easy conflict. And the character of Eleanor by design was a lone wolf that got bristled when she felt like she was being condescended to or when she thought other people were better than her. So she was put in the worst possible scenario for a person like her.”

Also the co-creator of “Parks and Recreation” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Schur says “I’ve had different views of the afterlife over the course of my life and where I end up is that I have no idea. It may exist or it may not.” Bur Schur did think that getting to assign points for behavior was “the closest I felt to playing God. It’s a very intoxicating feeling because you’re speaking for the universe. I was laying out an objective reality of how good or bad different things were. I had to really check myself so I didn’t just insert my own belief system. I am a Boston sports fan, so there were some jokes about how many point being a Yankees will lose you, but those were pretty harmless.”


The end of the first season brought a shocking cliffhanger of a twist that Michael was actually a demon who had actually designed ‘A Bad Place’ where he could torment Eleanor and three other people. Schur explains that Danson and Bell were the only cast members who knew about the end of season twist: “They deserved to know the full range of what they were signing up for. It was almost an ethical question for me. What I’m doing is getting Ted Danson to sign on for a show where he’s playing an angel. Then I’m going to reveal at the end he’s playing a demon. To not tell him seemed uncool. But they both liked it and Ted was far more interested in playing a secret demon. As far as comedy goes, its a better gig.”

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UPLOADED May 23, 2017 6:30 pm