The Good Place is coming to an end after four seasons, the final of which has yet to air. But even in medias res, the show is a fascinating example of how a comedy can bend the concept of a sitcom itself while addressing some very heavy subject material in a way that still registers as hilarious to viewers.
It has largely done this by avoiding extremely current events, lest it becomes another Murphy Brown that’s basically unrecognizable in syndication. While the show has made a note to handle the fact that, under Jason’s favorite player Blake Bortles, his beloved (and very real) Jacksonville Jaguars actually got good for a season and made the playoffs — most of the reality of the real world has been left behind. Still, it’s these occasional touches into reality, though well after the fact, that’s grounded what otherwise would be a very heady show.
But one thing the show has largely avoided is any talk about the current president in reality: Donald Trump. This is, according to showrunner Mike Schur, an entirely intentional decision. Because while Schur talks about Trump and his presidency on Twitter basically every day, the writers room for The Good Place had a policy that limited any talk about Trump.
According to The Wrap, Schur explained how the show largely avoided presidential talk and politics of any kind in a talk with press at the Television Critics Association press on Thursday: they outright banned Trump talk in the writer’s room.
“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].”
The process has obviously worked, because while the show has often hinted at the bleak realities of existence through peeps chili and other bleak but hilarious gambits, The Good Place is certainly lacking a distinctly Resistance vibe you might expect from liberal writers who often address politics bluntly in other forums. A number of writers on the show talk about Donald Trump online, but it’s never truly seeped into the writing, not even in an offhanded way.
When you really boil it down, the show is about how you attempt to be a good person. And three seasons in, it’s entirely unclear how anyone involved can manage that in the show or in real life. But Schur made it clear: the morality of the show exists outside of just dealing with Trump, even if it seems to overtake pretty much everything in America in 2019 at times.