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Holy forking shirtballs, can we talk about D'Arcy Carden on The Good Place?

Contributed by
Dec 7, 2018

Last night's episode of The Good Place, "Janet(s)," was not only the season's best but an utterly stunning masterclass in performance from D'Arcy Carden, who plays Janet. All the Janets. 

When we last left our heroes, they were about to hide out in Janet's void, unsure what would happen to them but definitely becoming dead (again) in the real world. As this episode opens, we learn they made it into the void safely, with one major side effect: everyone is Janet.

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Yes, for nearly the entire episode, D'Arcy Carden plays all four formerly human members of Team Cockroach. Every iteration — Chidi-Janet, Eleanor-Janet, Tahani-Janet, and Jason-Janet — is pure gold. Carden nails Jason's (Manny Jacinto) exact cadence and facial expressions, and her Tahani (Jameela Jamil) is sublimely affected. But it's her Eleanor (Kristen Bell) and Chidi (William Jackson Harper) that do the heaviest lifting in the episode's climax. 

Having all the humans in her void is causing Janet to malfunction, something that only gets worse as they begin summoning puppies, a chalkboard, and a hot tub replete with Pillboi and some 40s. But when Eleanor begins to lose her sense of self, completely rattled by a seemingly uninterested Chidi, the void begins to crack apart and self-destruct, ready to take everyone with it.

So, Chidi-Janet has to save the day, leading to one of the most beautiful and visually spectacular moments of the whole series.

Of course, Actual Janet is also in play, returning to her void periodically in futile attempts to keep the Human Janets in check as well as joining Michael to discover whatever accounting errors are happening to keep people out of the Good Place (there's also a blank-face Neutral Janet; this episode is lousy with Janets). Janet is always at her best when she's falling apart, like during her Season 2 glitching period, but as this not-lady has expanded in her personality and capabilities over the last 300 years of reboots, Carden has brought in subtle shifts that make the character and her performance all the more fascinating and impressive.

In a show featuring nothing but MVPs, Carden as Janet is always a standout. But "Janet(s)" was an absolute game-changer, not only in terms of story (our heroes are now interdimensional fugitives who just mailed themselves to the actual Good Place) but for the way viewers now know the true breadth of Carden's talent. Janet(s) the characters and "Janet(s)" the episode were exceptional, a tour de force of writing and performance. 

Really, Eleanor-Janet said it best.

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