How Mike Schur Avoids ‘Trump Bulls–‘ in ‘The Good Place’ Writers Room

TCA 2019: NBC sitcom creator realized he needed to set “appointed times” for writing staff to discuss current events

Last Updated: August 8, 2019 @ 3:22 PM

“The Good Place” mastermind Michael Schur doesn’t shy away from talking about the morality and consequences of the current political environment on Twitter, but he believes it’s important to keep the show’s own sense of morality insulated from all of that.

Set in the afterlife, the four-season NBC comedy is a philosophical deep-dive into what it means to be a good person, but aside from the occasional joke about Chick-Fil-A, it largely avoids the day-to-day political realities of life on Earth.

“This show was conceived of and written before any of this nonsense happened, so it’s not a reaction to this, it’s a contiguous or concurrent event,” Schur told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour on Thursday.

“We try to avoid all Trump bulls—, frankly,” he said, calling the endless hum of political anxiety “a virus — or maybe a fungus — that crawls over and seeps into and infects everything that it gets near.”

“I was like ‘We can’t function as a show if all we’re doing is talking about this.’ So we have like appointed times where we discuss current events and what’s going on — and then we work,” he continued. “And we’ve tried to keep the ethics that our characters are discussing and the ethics of modern-day America [separate].”

During the show’s panel, Schur described how the goal of “The Good Place” had shifted as the show developed, evolving from an attempt to demonstrate how to be a good person to a lesson in the importance of trying to be better in the first place.

“What’s important is that you try,” Schur said on stage. “That was sort of my internal shift over the course of making the show … the newfound belief that the important thing wasn’t actually – and it’s counter-intuitive to say this — being good. The important thing was that you’re trying.”

“I feel like I took a four-year course in the most interesting possible subject you could take a four-year course in from the years 2015-2019,” he later said.