Americana Restaurant on ‘The Good Place’ Is Straight Out of the Bad Place

Almost as torturous as frozen yogurt

Last Updated: October 4, 2018 @ 7:31 PM

(Note: This post contains light spoilers for the Oct. 4 episode of “The Good Place.”)

The first two seasons of “The Good Place” were all about different ways to torture its protagonists. Season 3 finds everyone back on Earth, though, and nothing created in the Bad Place is quite as inspired in its awfulness as the Earth restaurant the characters visit in what is technically the season’s third episode, “The Brainy Bunch.”

In the episode, Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Chidi (William Jackson Harper) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) are joined in Australia in their ethics experiment by Trevor (Adam Scott), a Bad Place demon bent on messing up their attempts to make it to the Good Place. Trevor plays the role of an overeager, smothering friend who joins the group, hoping to make everyone so miserable that they separate, so they can’t help each other make it to the Good Place.

A crucial step on that road is convincing the group to go to Australia’s take on an American restaurant, a place that not even a demon could have invented: the Cowboy Skyscraper Buffet. It’s a perfect sendup of America as other countries might see it, from its selection of a variety of fried foods, to its state-themed tables.

The restaurant is full of goofs on American culture, starting with the name and facade of the building, which includes a novelty Hollywood sign and a poster of Uncle Sam that reads “I want you — to stuff yourself.” The decor is all about America’s lowest-brow pop culture — a mural shows Mount Rushmore replaces presidents with Hulk Hogan, Judge Judy, Paris Hilton and David Hasselhoff.

Later, Trevor notes that it’s also trivia night at the bar, with all the questions based on YouTube personality Logan Paul. He last kicked off controversy when he visited Japan’s Aokigahara forest (also called the “suicide forest”) and made a video of a body he found there.

Inside, Trevor asks for the “Florida”-themed table, because, as he says, the proprietors got the “swamp stench” just right. That table’s taken, the hostess replies, but if the gang is willing to pony up $30 for the “Manifest Destiny” package, they can mirror American history and have anyone forcibly removed from their table. Topping it all off, the hostess gives the group a handgun, which she says will go off when their table is ready. The group winds up at the “Montana” table. It includes a picture of the “Saturday Night Live” character the Church Lady, played by Montana native Dana Carvey.

The food is almost exclusively fried, it seems, except for the popcorn offered to each table. When Janet (D’Arcy Carden) arrives as the gang’s waitress, she offers them the restaurant’s signature cocktail. That’s the “Fourth of July”: half an apple pie blended with Southern Comfort and Coca-Cola. It’s served in a hubcap.

The American tendency to create themed restaurants based on other cultures and countries has been the butt of jokes for years, but the version of the joke in “The Good Place” is among the best ever. One can’t help but wonder what that apple pie hubcap drink actually tastes like, though.