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How Janet and Jason broke the infinite love mold on The Good Place
Endless love is a concept that has occupied creative minds throughout the ages, whether in movies, songs, plays, art, or novels. Time has proven to be a formidable opponent, but some couples have triumphed over huge barriers such as living in a different century or even on a separate plane of existence. On television, part of the journey to an unbreakable bond is the will-they-won't-they tease, which is a central component on many sitcoms: Ross and Rachel, Pam and Jim, and Sam and Diane are a few notable comedy couplings. Ted Danson doesn't get to replicate his iconic sitcom romance dynamic on The Good Place, but infinite forking love is one of the cornerstones of the afterlife setting.
Soulmates are part of the initial ruse that Danson's character Michael utilizes as a means to torture the humans, but a mid-Season 1 twist took a leap on an unexpected couple. Despite system reboots and erased memories, the bond between Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto) and Janet (D'Arcy Carden) could not be severed. And while Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) and Chidi Anagonye (William Harper Jackson) were the central Good Place OTP, the sweet coupling of hot dummy Jason and "not a girl" Janet is worth living through endless Jeremy-Bearimies.
Spoilers ahead for the series finale of The Good Place.
A conventional sitcom will-they-won't-they trope takes time to develop, most often thanks to the misconception that once a couple acts on their feelings, tension will be lost, and the audience will lose interest — aka the "Moonlighting Curse," which isn't actually a real thing. Eleanor and Chidi followed the more traditional path (well, as traditional as The Good Place gets) to true love, facing an array of obstacles before an almost-eternity together.
A wedding typically comes at the end of a comedy, whether it is a rom-com, sitcom season, or Shakespearean play, but Janet and Jason don't play by those rules. A discussion about a first date only occurred after one marriage and hundreds of resets and memory wipes. Time occurs differently in the afterlife, but even this form of courtship is atypical. It is part of what makes this relationship singular and the romantic beating heart of The Good Place.
So what do a sweet ding-dong human and a Janet possessing all the knowledge have in common? The unlikely couple each has a boundless capacity for kindness, which is how Janet has been programmed to behave and is an innate part of Jason's being (he's done a lot of bad things in his life, but he is never cruel). This is the catalyst that leads to the spontaneous trip down the aisle, which makes so much sense when you get over how impulsive it is.
With each reboot, Janet becomes more advanced — but with any kind of update, complications can arise. The first time is discombobulating, so she takes solace in Jason; his description of jalapeño poppers is calming in a time of confusion.
After Janet returns the favor by cheering Jason up with some wings from Ugly Nick's Meat Trench in "Chidi's Choice," a wedding is the unusual relationship route the pair embark on. Jason is fond of the "act now, think later" method (throw a Molotov cocktail now, deal with consequences after). In this case, his instincts to throw caution to the wind pay off. Despite this event getting erased from both their memories, the bond itself cannot be expunged.
The first reboot gives Janet a new understanding of love, her capacity for experiencing human-like emotions continues to evolve with each reset. It is why she starts to glitch when Jason is in a relationship with Tahani (Jameela Jamil) in the second season; her jealousy cannot be contained. The path to true love doesn't run smoothly, even for the couple who faced zero obstacles when it came to their first nuptials. And what started as an unlikely pairing flipped into will-they-won't-they because each year found a way to bring them back together before circumstances got in the way again.
Deep in Janet's void, the memory of the wedding is preserved, and there is no stopping Jason from seeing this deeply honest expression of love when she hides the humans in this location. Despite her embarrassment of Jason seeing her feelings broadcast in such an intimate fashion, it results in the next step in their relationship, which is "boyfriend/not-a-girlfriend." And every great love story needs a huge dollop of embarrassment while laying your heart on the line; it is what makes love so wonderfully painful.
Over four seasons, The Good Place has explored the elements that make someone "good." Moral philosophy provided the tools to discuss a variety of hypothetical and real scenarios, which saw Team Cockroach triumph in their quest to give the afterlife a much-needed makeover. Ultimately the relationships are what made this ambitious series a triumph and showcased how even the most enduring romance takes time and effort. The start of Janet and Jason's coupledom was easy, but when everything was stacked against them they proved it was worth fighting for.
Time is an obstacle defeated by many great love stories on TV, whether it is the centuries that separate Claire and Jamie Fraser on Outlander or Dr. Manhattan using his abilities to be with Angela Abar on Watchmen. Janet and Dr. Manhattan have a lot in common, including their infinite knowledge and ability to experience time all at once. In the Good Place series finale, Jason wants to give Janet a heart necklace so she won't forget him. This won't be an issue, she reassures him, saying, "I'm never going to forget you. In fact, to me, you won't even really be gone. I don't experience time the same way you do. I kind of live all times at once."
The final episode is a major tearjerker that explores the concept of existence and memory in a way that nails the conundrum of existence and what happens after we die — obviously, they don't have the actual answers, but it addresses the quandary of what it means to miss someone. Janet is not a person by our biological definition and therefore has the luxury of experiencing endless love without having to truly say goodbye. Even after Jason has chosen to go through the door to end this form of his being, she will still be with him: "To me, remembering moments with you is the same as living in them." With each season, D'Arcy Carden has imbued Janet with more emotion without straying into too human territory — after all, she is still a Janet. This line reading is said in a matter-of-fact tone but it is no less of a gut punch.
She might not have one beating in her chest, but Janet is the heart of Mike Schur's comedy about what it entails to become a better person, and her relationship with Jason is one for the Jeremy-Bearimies.