What did we learn from this week’s episode of The Good Place? Well, a lot of things. It was a jam-packed episode. We learned that Eleanor and Chidi are finally going to be a thing and they both realize it and sealed it with a Void-saving kiss. We learned that no one has made it to the Good Place in over 500 years and that the point system is either hacked by the Bad Place or dearly in need of an overhaul. And we learned that seeing and knowing every weird sex thing considered by every human on the planet will break a man completely.
But mostly, we learned that D’Arcy Carden is a damn hyper-talented comedy dynamo. “Learned” is probably not accurate, actually. We already knew it, or should have. There’s been plenty of evidence over the run of the show, from her repeated “deaths” on the beach to anytime she and Michael go undercover to the time she broke and started handing everyone cacti. Don’t let the vest and computer-like personality of Normal Janet fool you. There’s a lot going on there.
There was a lot going on in this episode, too. After whisking the humans and Michael into her Void at the end of the previous episode, Janet discovers, oh, let’s say “complications” that arose in transit. And by “complications” I mean “all of the humans turned into Janets — physically, while retaining their personalities — and they were standing there in a line acting about as confused as you’d expect.” What followed was a half-hour of Darcy Carden playing Janet as each character on the show, usually in conversations between two or more people, in clearly distinct enough ways that you could have figured out who she was playing without the clothes-swapping tell the show used to simplify things.
It was, to be clear, awesome. One of the best television comedy performances by one person I can ever remember seeing. I could go on and on. And I kind of will. Because now, right now, the time has come to rank the Janets.
7. Neutral Janet
Neutral Janet is in last place because Neutral Janet sucks. Even Bad Janet is better than Neutral Janet, which seems impossible because Bad is right there in Bad Janet’s name, and yet, is true. At least Bad Janet has a personality, you know? She has a certain charm. It’s a lot easier to say that from the comfort of a room she is not in. I stand by it.
Although I will say this for Neutral Janet: There’s something aspirational about just stating “end of conversation” when you’re done talking to people. Think about how freeing that must be.
YOU: Okay, got it.
YOUR ANNOYING FRIEND SANDRA: Oh, I forgot to tell you about Jonatha-
YOU: End of conversation.
6. Janet as Chidi
The tricky part here is that Chidi doesn’t have any big physical or verbal hooks to make an impression pop. All of the others have… something. Chidi just has glasses and massively crippling anxiety and surprisingly defined muscles. He’s the most reasonable member of the group and reasonable doesn’t let you go big. But still, I have a great deal of respect for the effort.
5. Janet as Eleanor
You know what my favorite part of this is? The body language. Go back and watch D’Arcy Carden mirror Kristen Bell’s performance as “an Arizona trashbag.” And it’s even more impressive because they have such different body types. Bell is short and blond and Carden is tall and has dark hair and by the end of the episode, just before Eleanor started melting down and Chidi Janet saved her with a big smooch, it all somehow still felt right. The verbal part of the impression was great, too, especially when there was a “, man” added to the end of a sentence.
This is ranked in the bottom half only because the ones above it are so special.
4. Janet as Eleanor as Jason
The layers. Oh my.
Sneaky awesome part of all of this: Chidi picked up on the ruse because he caught Eleanor’s flub about the number of members in Jason’s old Jacksonville dance group. Chidi listens to Jason. They are real friends. I bet Chidi has almost accidentally developed opinions about Blake Bortles by now. It’s kind of adorable.
What I’m getting at is that I want a Chidi/Jason road trip episode at some point. Just the two of them in a car with no radio and hundreds of miles of road ahead of them.
3. Janet as Tahani
This is the best pure impression of the group. The accent is part of it, of course, because Tahani — and Jameela Jamil — has a very distinct and British way of pronouncing things. But the bigger part of it was the posture. The straight back, the head held high like an aristocrat, all of it. All I’ve been talking about so far is how much D’Arcy Carden ruled in this episode and I still feel like I’m underselling it. She did full-on impressions of four different people, right down to the little physical quirks. Give her an award. Or at least, like, $500 cash. An award or cash. Either way.
2. Janet as Jason
It is a lot of fun to talk like Jason Mendoza. I recommend you try it. Now. Try it now. Do your impression of Jason, out loud, wherever you are. Don’t worry if people are looking at you. You’re having a blast. Maybe one of the people will pick up on it and shout “Bortles!” Look at that. You just made a friend.
Anyway, if anyone needs me, I’ll be shouting “CARTOONS! CARTOONS!” at my television until it listens to me. Shoutout to Pillboi.
1. Original Janet
- Still the best
- Always watch television with the captions on
The Good Place is a good show.