I don’t know if you’ve noticed recently but, with the rise of streaming networks, social media, and endless fan campaigns, an interesting thing tends to happen with TV shows: they never seem to truly fucking die. Like the horde of monsters at the center of the decade’s biggest show, many series end up strutting around like zombies long after their “death.” And like the series about the horde of monsters strutting around like zombies, they seem to stick around forever with absolutely no goddamn end in sight. I mean, when was the last time you read about the cancellation of a show running for at least a few seasons without the wordage “the production company is shopping the series around at other outlets” included somewhere in the Deadline article? With the absolute glut of peak TV and the many options for distribution available, it seems few shows are ever truly cancelled outright — and fans on the internet are bound to stick around for awhile sending out pointless hashtags late into the night, for pretty much every show you can possibly think of. I mean, I saw a freaking #SaveSingleParents hashtag the other day — Single Parents! I don’t even know what that show really is aside from the two buzzwords used in the title, but I don’t think it will be able to gain the cultural momentum for it to come back. Just a hunch.
So what you’re probably wondering is “gee, Mr. Higher-Than-TV-Thou, have you ever participated in any of these fan campaigns, or at the very least supported them?” And to answer that…well yeah, I am a hypocrite, so of course I have and, in fact, have done so within the past few months. I wanted to #SaveCounterpart as much as the next person with a brain and GOOD FREAKING TASTES IN SLOW PACED SCIENCE FICTION STORYTELLING, and consider me also on the train for saving A.P. Bio (it grew a lot in its second season! I really enjoyed the cast and writing! etc.) But my thing usually with saving shows is either A) saving series that are rather new and were just starting to find themselves (see the last two examples or B) saving shows that clearly had a longer story they wanted to tell, but were cut off before they could finish it (Samurai Jack is the first one that comes to mind, but there’s probably many more.)
So I guess for me, the distinction in many of these attempts to keep shows going is whether or not the show is cancelled, or whether it it is just coming to an end. I pretty much always support the latter, especially when the show is still in its prime AND the decision comes from the creative people involved, rather than the suits in charge. Which brings us to The Good Place Season 4, which last night was confirmed by Michael Schur himself (via an interview with The Hollywood Reporter) to be the show’s last. Yes, after three years of the adventures of The Cockroaches/The Brainy Brunch/The Soul Squad, their adventure will be coming to a close in 2020. And, on the one hand, that’s very sad to me: I am very much a big fan of the show, and have written at length why I find it to be one of TV’s very best modern offerings. And more importantly, I truly love spending time with these characters week-to-week, and will miss having a world in which I know Eleanor Shellstrop, Chidi Anagonye, Tahani Al-Jamil, Janet, Michael, and (especially) my man Jason Mendoza will be around on my TV set to spend time with. So yeah, it sucks that I will have to say goodbye. But, on the other hand–
Thank fucking god.
Because Michael Schur is, if anything, a very smart man (and also a TV genius, but that’s besides the point.) From the beginning he seemed to know exactly what kind of show he was making, and has made it clear that this one isn’t a traditional sitcom: it could never run for six plus seasons of 20 episodes each, and was built specifically to be 13 episode installments, of a 4-5 season length. And if you actually watch the show (which I assume everyone reading this does, otherwise…what are you doing here man? You could be outside right now), it’s become pretty clear that we are approaching some type of endgame here. As Schur himself told THR in that interview, it would have been impossible to keep the end of the show a secret for very long, as the story was going to be naturally reaching its endpoint anyways. You know, that thing that can sometimes happen for certain things? Less and less in the modern franchise age (more Game of Thrones content, coming next year!), but still possible, I guess!
And, once again, this is the natural and fitting move for The Good Place. While Season 3 of the show was still great, and occasionally transcendent (“Janets” 4Ever), it didn’t quite reach the insane heights of Season 2, and you could already feel the strain of the story pressing down on the show towards the end of it (how many times can these characters have their minds wiped? How many times can they keep convincing The Judge to spare them and come up with new “tests”? etc.) So coming out of the gate and officially giving an end to the thing is, frankly, one of the best decisions Schur and company could have made here. Especially because, from that interview alone, it seems that everyone involved spent a lot of time and thought into whether or not this is the right time to wrap things up, and how best to approach the endgame. Unlike a certain other recently finished show that I still throw shade at, because I’m a vindictive little bitch.
ANYWAYS, read this great statement from Michael Schur posted earlier this morning on The Good Place’s Twitter page, if you need more proof about how much love and care was put into the decision to end the series:
So yeah, I am a little bummed sure, but mostly? I’m really excited and happy to see this series enter its final stretch of episodes, still at the top of its game. This series really has a shot to be one of the best ones ever made or, at the very least for me, one of my all-time favorites. It just has to nail the landing with a thematically appropriate, compelling end. That’s hard, as a certain dragon show proved a few weeks ago (seriously, I will cast side-eye on that final season forever and ever, sorry HBO). But at this point in time, the show has like a 95% success rate, so to say I have complete and utter faith in these people to deliver a compelling, thematically appropriate end is an understatement. And look: this series did insane, completely off the wall things when it was still (ostensibly) a series that had to keep propagating stories for the long-term — with that obligation out of the way, who knows what insane places this narrative can take on a week-to-week basis! They are going to rock this guys, and it’s great we won’t have to live in a world where I have to couch my opinion of The Good Place with “The Good Place is such a great show, if you ignore the last few seasons where things kind of went off the rails.” Like another Mike Schur adjacent sitcom, for instance. See, I can be a passive aggressive jerk about another long-running show that disappointed me in its final few seasons! I contain layers to my bitchiness, truly.
But here’s the thing, my little chili babies: don’t read this news as a “cancellation,” or get all up in arms about #SavingTheGoodPlace. I understand we all love this world and these characters and would like to bask in it for as much as possible. And I know now is a particularly hard time to, you know, exist, and many (including myself) use the optomistic, hopeful trappings of the show as a necessary balm to the harshness and cynicism of the real world. But things need to end, people. The Good Place was always something of a tightrope balancing act, and it would be both unfair and slightly cruel to expect the trapeze artist to stay up there forever, just because watching his act makes us feel good and happy. He needs to climb down eventually. I mean, realistically, four or five minutes is probably the absolute max when it comes to being suspended in the air on a rope like a goddamn madman. The trapezer (trapezeea?) will inevitably get tired of being on the rope, and at the very least, will need to stop and eat a sandwich or something after a while. And as an audience, it would all do us some good to get up and take a piss or something. Besides, there is plenty of other stuff to do and see in the circus. Can’t just stick around the circus tent for 5+ seasons of, uh, trapezing.
Hmm, this metaphor is getting slightly ahead of me here so umm…end of article I guess?
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