“The Good Place” became one of the best shows on TV because of its main characters: crafty Eleanor (Kristen Bell), the ever-changing Michael (Ted Danson), anxious Chidi (William Jackson Harper), not-a-robot Janet (D’Arcy Carden), lovable dopey Jason (Manny Jacinto), and name-droppy Tahani (Jameela Jamil).
But there was one new character in Season 2 so good that even the writers knew right away that they could never get rid of. At an Emmy For Your Consideration event held Friday night on the set of “The Good Place” at Universal Studios, creator Michael Schur heaped praise on one of the show’s relative newcomers: Janet’s invented boyfriend, Derek.
“Without saying anything about whether or not we have even considered bringing Derek back, the original conception was at the end of the episode, we were going to get rid of him. Janet was going to blink and he was going to disappear,” Schur said. “Then we were like, ‘Wait a second. Maybe she should stash him in her void somewhere so we can bring Mantzoukas back.’ Because I think Jason Mantzoukas is one of the 12 funniest human beings who’s ever lived on the planet.”
When last we heard Derek, he was being put to, well, full use in the Medium Place, courtesy of Mindy St. Clair. Schur vaguely hinted that if the show ever returned there, fans might expect him to still be hiding out there.
“We kept saying ‘We can’t kill him. He can’t disappear.’ We will always just stash Derek somewhere so that he always at least has the possibility of coming back, because I love him so much,” Schur said.
That Derek story was the closest the evening came to any nuggets about Season 3. Jamil and moderator Marc Evan Jackson (who plays The Bad Place’s Shawn on the series) both joked about being terrified to reveal anything about upcoming episodes.
So instead of looking forward, the assembled cast reflected on some of the lessons they’ve learned from doing the show. Jackson brought up the now-infamous video of the rest of the main cast finding out the giant Season 1 twist.
Said Carden, “We thought we were being fired. It was a little scary. Mike was like, ‘After lunch, we’re gonna meet all together.’ We were like, ‘Well, this is it, guys! It’s been a fun few months. Then Mike took us through and we were the exact same as [the audience]. We just had no idea. The only thing we knew was that a twist was coming and we still didn’t know.”
“I thought only I was being fired, and everyone else was there to support me,” Jamil said.
“I had a bunch of crazy theories,” Jacinto said. “One was I thought it was going to be a handing of the torch, like Ted and Kristin were going to leave the show to us. I was going to dark places. So I was relieved when we finally found out.”
Bell, who filmed that video, used the necessity to mask any Eleanor-related spoilers with a tiny tidbit of how her personal philosophical outlook has changed over the course of Season 2.
“One of the reasons I signed on to the show is that I have been preoccupied with what it means to be a good person for many years. When I first sat down with Mike, that was a lot of what we talked about. I just thought it was so great to give people a digestible way to think about all these philosophy concepts. The bottom line is, we’re sharing Earth. That’s our only option. How do we do that? How do we maximize happiness and minimize suffering?” Bell said. “There are a variety of ways to go about it. But I will say, I thought I was utilitarian to begin with, and now I realize I might be a moral particularist.”