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The Good Place showrunner on series plan: 'We don't know everything that's going to happen'

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Sep 28, 2018, 12:06 PM EDT (Updated)

The Good Place has been delighting unsuspecting comedy fans with its twisty Twilight Zone-y surprises since its first season pulled the celestial rug out from under protagonists and audiences alike. Now, as its third season premieres to rave reviews, it undergoes another twist. How long can the show keep this up? And where exactly is it going? Thankfully, showrunner Michael Schur (The Office, Parks and Recreation) is here to answer these questions — even if the answers are truly “I don’t know.”

According to an interview Schur did with The Wrap, he’s taking an opposite approach to his NBC show than others, like Westworld, which famously poked and prodded its fanbase to grab their theories. “There are certain shows in the past decade or so — I’m not going to name names — that have really kind of invited the fan theory and toyed with the audience in certain ways,” Schur said. “It’s almost like they’re daring the audience to guess where they’re going and why they’re doing certain things. And that’s a very dangerous game, because someone somewhere is going to guess the answer.” And if you don’t have the answer, reading theories is a good way to never decide on one.

The Good Place, Season 2

Credit: NBC

Asked if he read theories about his own show, Schur said that he doesn’t saying it’s “not because I don’t find it interesting, quite the contrary. I’m worried that I’ll find it too interesting and be like, ‘Oh, that’s a better idea than what we have,’ and I’ll be tempted to use it.” Some of that dangerous flexibility comes from Schur’s writing style, which has continued opening up the show’s ends. “My theory is, about all of this stuff, is what you want to do is have ideas for where you want to go in a given season, or the length of the show, but you don’t want to chisel them in stone,” he said. “Because if somebody comes up with a better idea, you don’t want to be so set in your ways or in your ideas that you’re unable to then absorb that and go off in a different direction.”

After revamping the premise over and over again — which was initially about a woman showing up in the afterlife after her death — Schur had a map. Now? It’s a different story. They’re no longer reading off a long-written script. “Now we don’t know everything that’s going to happen,” Schur said.

But for the current season, at least, fans can rest assured that there’s a steady plan at the helm. “For a show like this, I think it’s kind of necessary. If you’re trying to make things up on the fly, you’re going to blow it. You’re going to do something that doesn’t make sense, or you’re going to make a bad decision. I think it’s kind of vital for this show that we know where we’re going very well in advance.”

So even though there’re still some undetermined ends for its characters — whether they end up in the Good Place, the Bad Place, or even back on Earth long-term — fans will be seeing “something otherworldly or afterlife-y” in every episode and seeing twists that nobody came up with but the writers. And they swear they’ll figure out where they’re going eventually.