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Everything Is Fine (The Good Place)

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"Everything Is Fine"
The Good Place episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 1
Directed byDrew Goddard
Written byMichael Schur
Produced by
Original air dateSeptember 19, 2016 (2016-09-19)
Running time24 minutes
Guest appearances
Episode chronology
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"Everything Is Fine" is the series premiere of the American fantasy-comedy television series The Good Place. Written by series creator Michael Schur and directed by executive producer Drew Goddard, it aired on NBC in the United States on September 19, 2016, back-to-back with the second episode "Flying".

The series focuses on Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), a woman who wakes up in the afterlife and is introduced by Michael (Ted Danson) to "The Good Place", a Heaven-like utopia he designed, in reward for her righteous life. Eleanor, an amoral loner, concludes that she was sent to the Good Place by mistake, and must then hide her morally imperfect behavior and try to become a better person.

In August 2015, the show was given a 13-episode straight-to-series order by NBC. Casting took place at the start of 2016, and the series was mainly filmed at

The Huntington and Universal Studios Hollywood
. In its original broadcast, the episode was viewed by 8.04 million viewers, becoming the most-watched comedy series premiere of the 2016–2017 television season. Critics praised the writing and Bell's and Danson's performances.

Plot

Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) opens her eyes and finds herself in a waiting room. She is greeted by Michael (Ted Danson), who informs her she has died on Earth after a line of shopping carts caused her to fall into open traffic. Congratulating her, Michael tells Eleanor she was one of the best people on Earth, and that as a result, she has entered "The Good Place", a Heaven-like utopia.

Soon after, Michael gives Eleanor a tour of the Good Place before screening an informational video for her and other newcomers. In the video, Michael explains that their actions on Earth gave them positive or negative points which were tallied up after they died; the people with the highest scores entered the Good Place. Michael also explains that every person has a soulmate, before telling Eleanor she earned her spot in the Good Place as a lawyer defending people on death row.

After presenting Eleanor with a house designed specifically for her preferences, Michael introduces her to her soulmate, Chidi Anagonye (

Buddhist monk who has decided to keep his vow of silence
.

While attending a party hosted by Tahani and Jianyu at their mansion, Chidi begins to question whether or not to help Eleanor after she becomes drunk and insults Tahani. The next morning, Eleanor wakes up to discover that many things that represent her crass comments about her life and her insults to Tahani at the party are wreaking havoc on the Good Place. Chidi tells her that remaining in the Good Place is cause for the incident and her actions are affecting it. Eleanor then asks Chidi to help her become a better person just as Michael knocks on the door to inform them of an emergency meeting.

Production

Development

On August 13, 2015, NBC issued a press release announcing it had given the then-untitled show from Michael Schur a 13-episode order.[1][2] In his pitch, Schur told the network the basic premise of the series, but concealed information about the twist in the first season's finale.[3] In January 2016, it was announced Drew Goddard was going to direct the first episode.[4] Goddard, a fan of Schur's previous work, said he received an invitation from the creator to simply talk, before finding out that Schur was going to pitch him an idea.[5] After finally reading the screenplay to the premiere, Goddard told Collider he got on board to direct because "you just pick the people you believe in and you ride towards the same goal, and I knew that Mike was one of those people."[5]

"So, I did a bunch of reading on my own [...] before anybody got anywhere close to meeting in a room. I was like, 'I have thousands of gaps big and small in my education about this stuff, and I just need to plug them as quickly as possible.' I had a big document and as I would make notes to myself, I would keep seeing the same names come up over and over again, and I would go, 'Okay, well this seems like the thing I need to read that's a little more specific about this area.'"

—Michael Schur on creating The Good Place[6]

According to Schur, the premise and idea was to include religious elements into the series after doing research on various faiths and groups, but he decided to scrap the plans, instead going for a concept that included all faiths, diverse and free of religious views. On the topic, Schur said he "stopped doing research because I realized it's about versions of ethical behavior, not religious salvation. The show isn't taking a side, the people who are there are from every country and religion."

The Huntington and Universal Studios Hollywood) "had the feeling of a pastiche of different cultures", stating that the neighborhoods would feature people who were part of nondenominational and interdenominational backgrounds that interact with each other regardless of religion.[7][8]

The series' setting and premises, as well as the serialized cliffhangers, were modeled on Lost, a favorite series of Schur. One of the first people he called when he developed the series was Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. In an interview, he remarked, "I took him to lunch and said, 'We're going to play a game [of] 'Is this anything?'"[9] He then added, "I imagine this going in the Lost way, with cliffhangers and future storylines."[9] His discussions with Lindelof were a key factor in why he "didn't pitch [the show] to NBC until [he] had the whole idea, because of hearing [Lindelof] talk about the process of writing a show that has these qualities and how hard it can be."[10] Instead, he planned out the season and where "the big tentpole episodes" would go; this plan would deviate little during production of the first season.[10]

Casting

Writers on the show purposely gave false information on the casting of D'Arcy Carden
as Janet.

On January 12, 2016, NBC announced that Kristen Bell and Ted Danson had been cast in the lead roles for the series. The first synopsis was also released, stating that the show was set to revolve around Eleanor designing her own self-improvement course, with Michael acting as her guide.[11] William Jackson Harper was cast as "Chris" on February 11, 2016,[12] though the character's real name was later revealed to be Chidi.[13] In an interview with GQ, Harper said his audition revolved around his character helping Bell's character after finding out she wasn't working in "The Innocence Project", a workspace where the pair had become friends. On that premise, he said "it was a completely different scenario, but the bones of Chidi were essentially there".[13] After he got the part, he was told the real premise of the show in a meeting with Schur and Goddard.[13]

Jameela Jamil was cast as "Tessa" on February 25, 2016,[14] and her character was renamed Tahani.[15] That same year, on March 3, Manny Jacinto was revealed to have been cast as a "sweet and good-natured Jason" whose "dream is to make a living as a DJ in Southern Florida".[16] On March 14, 2016, D'Arcy Carden was cast in the final series regular role as Janet Della-Denunzio, described as "a violin salesperson with a checkered past".[17] Though the character's actual profession is different in the show, where Janet serves as a programmed guide, she retained her original first name in the series, with it being reported in 2018 that the writers on the show purposely gave news publishers false information on her character.[18]

Reception

Ratings

In its original American broadcast on September 19, 2016, "Everything Is Fine" was seen by an estimated 8.04 million household viewers and gained a 2.3/8 ratings share among adults aged 18–49, according to

The Voice), first in its timeslot and fourth for the night in the 18–49 demographics, behind Kevin Can Wait, The Voice, and The Big Bang Theory.[19] After several days, viewing of the episode from DVRs increased the episode's audience reception across the United States to around 12 million people, making it the most-watched comedy series premiere of the 2016–17 United States network television season.[20][21]

Critical reception

Overall, the episode received generally positive reviews from critics. In a review from an advance screening at

Vulture gave 4 out of 5 stars, calling the show "clever, funny, and pleasantly familiar". He remarked, "Teasing a few mysteries is always a strong way to launch a series, though The Good Place doesn't dwell on them at the expense of telling good jokes."[24]

References

  1. ^ "Michael Schur Returns to NBC with Series Order for Untitled Comedy". The Futon Critic. August 13, 2015. Archived from the original on December 6, 2020. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  2. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (August 13, 2015). "NBC Orders Comedy Series From Mike Schur, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock Pilot". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on April 6, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  3. ^ Porter, Rick (January 30, 2020). "'The Good Place' Creator Opens Up About Bringing Peace to Its Universe in Series Finale". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on April 6, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  4. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 13, 2016). "Drew Goddard To Direct Mike Schur NBC Comedy Series 'Good Place'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Radish, Christina (September 19, 2016). "Drew Goddard on Directing NBC's 'The Good Place' and Making 'The Defenders' with Netflix". Collider. Archived from the original on April 6, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  6. ^ Angell, Elizabeth (December 6, 2018). "The Good Place Creator Michael Schur on How He Made Philosophy a Pop Culture Phenomenon". Town & Country. Archived from the original on April 6, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Ostrow, Joanne (September 15, 2016). "How Will NBC's 'The Good Place' Tackle Religion?". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 14, 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  8. ^ Penn, Farrah; Hudspeth, Christopher (January 9, 2020). "We Visited 'The Good Place' Filming Locations And Here's What They Look Like In Real Life". BuzzFeed. Archived from the original on April 6, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Birnbaum, Debra (August 16, 2016). "'The Good Place' Boss Mike Schur: The Model in My Head is 'Lost'". Variety. Archived from the original on September 17, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Adams, Erik (September 19, 2016). "Michael Schur knows where The Good Place is going, thanks to Lost". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on June 15, 2020. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  11. ^ NBC press release (January 12, 2016). "Ted Danson and Kristen Bell Join Cast of Michael Schur's New NBC Comedy 'Good Place'". The Futon Critic. Archived from the original on June 6, 2020. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  12. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 11, 2016). "'Good Place' NBC Comedy Series Casts William Jackson Harper". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on May 27, 2018. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  13. ^ a b c Weslow, Scott (January 4, 2018). "The Good Place's William Jackson Harper Had No Idea What He Was Auditioning For". GQ. Archived from the original on April 5, 2021. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  14. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 25, 2016). "'Good Place': British Presenter Jameela Jamil Cast In Mike Schur NBC Series". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 12, 2019. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  15. ^ De, Rosh (October 2, 2020). "Tahani Al-Jamil from 'The Good Place': A Revolutionary Brown Woman on TV — Here's Why". Black Girl Nerds. Archived from the original on April 6, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  16. ^ Petski, Denise (March 3, 2016). "'Good Place' NBC Comedy Series Casts Manny Jacinto; Julie Goldman Joins ABC's Weeks/Mackay Project". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 24, 2019. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  17. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 14, 2016). "'Good Place': UCB Performer D'Arcy Carden Cast In Mike Schur NBC Series". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 29, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  18. ^ Mellor, Louisa (August 7, 2018). "The Good Place: The Fake Casting News Leaked as a Joke". Den of Geek. Archived from the original on April 6, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  19. ^ Porter, Rick (September 20, 2016). "Monday final ratings: 'Big Bang Theory' and 'Gotham' adjust up, 'Kevin' and 'Good Place' hold". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on October 9, 2016. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  20. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (September 24, 2016). "'Big Bang', 'Gotham', 'Lucifer', 'Good Place' Lead Premiere Monday L3 Ratings Gains". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 6, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  21. ^ Porter, Rick (October 4, 2016). "'Designated Survivor' is your premiere week DVR champion: Broadcast Live +7 ratings". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  22. ^ a b Fowler, Matt (July 21, 2016). "Comic-Con 2016: The Good Place – "Pilot" Review". IGN. Archived from the original on November 8, 2020. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  23. ^ a b Perkins, Dennis (September 19, 2016). "Kristen Bell is perfectly at home crashing The Good Place". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on August 7, 2020. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  24. Vulture. Archived
    from the original on June 5, 2020. Retrieved April 26, 2020.

External links