At the show's final season panel at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, The Good Place creator and executive producer Mike Schur shed some light on the questions he plans to answer in the show's final season, and how his goals for the series have changed over the course of four seasons.
"I pitched this show as an investigation of what it meant to be a good person and found over the course of working on it with the writers and the actors and the entire crew that that's an even more complicated question than I thought it was," Schur said. "I thought in the beginning that the show could, if given the chance, describe what it meant to be a good person. That was my hope. And that didn't mean do this and not that, it meant, 'Here's what a good person looks like in the world. Here's how a person can feel like he or she led a good life.'"
But Schur's intentions for the show shifted as he and the writers studied the work of philosophers who have expounded on what it means to be good. "What we found as we discussed it and wrote it and executed it is some very, very smart people over the last 3,000 years have had a lot of opinions about that question," he said.
So the show's true message evolved. It became: "We're going to give you a bunch of options, and by the way, there are plenty more that we didn't describe, but what's important is that you try one of them," Schur said. "That was sort of my internal shift over the course of making the show, a sort of newfound belief that the important thing wasn't actually — and it's counterintuitive to say this — being good. The important thing was that you're trying. Because it feels like the huge problem, from my point of view, is that not enough people are trying. And trying means failing. Everyone fails all the time, even the people with the best intentions will fail. It doesn't matter whether you follow this theory that or that theory or this belief or whatever — you're going to fail a lot. We all fail all the time at this. And so, this is a long-winded saying: At the beginning, I pitched it as 'what it means to be a good person,' and at the end, I think I would describe this as a show that makes the argument that we all ought to try harder than we are, and as long as you're trying, you're on the right path."
Whether Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and Jason (Manny Jacinto) end up in the Good Place or not when the show comes to an end, we can probably all agree that their time together has taught them how to try.
The Good Place Season 4 premieres Thursday, September 26 at 9/8c.