(Warning: This post contains very mild spoilers for the first episode of Peacock’s “Rutherford Falls.”)
“The Good Place” creator Mike Schur brought his comedy talents back to your TV on Thursday with the premiere of his new Peacock comedy “Rutherford Falls.” Co-created by Schur, Ed Helms and Sierra Teller Ornelas, the show follows Nathan Rutherford (played by Helms) and his lifelong best friend Reagan Wells (Jana Schmieding), whose relationship is challenged in the first episode when the people of their upstate New York town, Rutherford Falls, demand a statue of Nathan’s ancestor, Lawrence “Big Larry” Rutherford, be moved from its hazardous location in the middle of a road. Reagan, a member of the Minishonka Nation who inhabited the area before Nathan’s family arrived, agrees it’s time for Big Larry to go.
We won’t get into any further spoilers about the first season of “Rutherford Falls” here, because this story is all about how it’s even possible that people would have decided to pave a road around this statue that has been there for hundreds of years, thus creating the hazard to begin with.
Here to answer that question is Schur, who assures us that, while it’s “a little hard to believe” that Big Larry could be there, there is a “totally reasonable” explanation for his placement.
You can see his response in full below.
“Some of that comes from my experience. I grew up in the Northeast and when you get into the deep end of the Northeast, every building, every area, has some plaque or some statue or some monument that’s, ‘On this date in 1657, this document was stored in this tree and blah blah blah blah blah.’ And no one ever looks at them, no one cares. Like, when you’re a kid, you go on field trips and you look at a plaque that’s tucked away in some corner of the town. And it’s like, ‘Oh, some militiamen from during the Revolutionary War, mustered here before this Battle of Whatever.’ And you don’t really care. But part of what’s interesting about them is that they were there, those monuments and stuff happened in certain places and the towns sort of grew around them to some extent, you know?”
“And a thing that we talked about early on in the room that made me laugh was I went to Buenos Aries once with my wife on a vacation and we were looking at this guidebook. And they were like, you have to go see this building. It’s this really important building in the history of Buenos Aries, because I think when the Spanish were there, this was where the provisional governor lived. And when the boats would come in from from Europe or from anywhere, they would dock and then the people would be brought to this building and the provisional governor, whoever it was, would receive them as dignitaries and they would have these huge banquets.”
“And then the guidebook was like, ‘Now, currently, this building is a Burger King. So what you’re looking for is a Burger King.’ And so we were like, ‘Oh, my God.’ So we find this Burger King and you go in and it’s this enormous building with this dome at the top and you order your crappy Burger King food and you go and you sit at a plastic table, but you’re looking at like beautiful stained glass and this massive dome at the top of this building. And so part of what we liked about that was like this ancient history, especially in these smaller towns in the Northeast, where Europeans first kind of landed settled. It’s this mishmash, right? It’s this palimpsest of the past and the future. And bad decisions were made about how to preserve it and what to do with it or whatever.”
“You know, the entire city of Boston is laid out, as legend has it, because that’s where the roads are just the paths that cows would take as farmers moved the cows across the city. And then they just paved those beaten down paths in the ground. So, like these cities don’t make a lot of sense a lot of times. Like, the way that things are laid out, the way the things are organized, it’s not logical. It’s the result of this weird sort of 400 years of stuff happening in these places that have nothing to do with with efficiency or civic planning. You know, no one came into these cities and were like, ‘OK, here’s what we’re going to do.’ They just sort of happened.”
“So part of the point of having that statue in the middle of the road is to just point out, like, a lot of this is haphazard, this is just the way that it happened to occur. It’s not the result of anyone making a decision. It might seem a little hard to believe, but I promise you, as a kid who grew up in the Northeast, it’s totally reasonable that this would have happened this way.”
“Rutherford Falls” Season 1 is streaming now on Peacock.