Author Archives: Dan Snierson and Natalie Abrams

The Good Place surprises again with season 2 finale

Warning: This story contains plot details about Thursday’s episode of The Good Place.

Next stop: Earth! Hot diggity dog!

The Good Place wrapped up its second season on Thursday night with a finale that threw its audience for another curve/loop. After Michael (Ted Danson) explained to Judge Hydrogen (Maya Rudolph) that she should overturn her eternal damnation verdict issued to our fate-challenged foursome — Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and Jason (Manny Jacinto) — he persuaded her to give them a do-over. Back on Earth.

After Michael (or someone) saved Eleanor from her previous shopping-cart-related death, she had an epiphany and decided to shed her old bad self. Well, for six months, at least. She half-apologized to the environmental activist, joined his team of clean energy crusaders, quit her sleazy job that preyed on the elderly, confessed to that roommate-dress crime, and left a note after banging into someone else’s car. Most of these good deeds ultimately came back to haunt her in some way, so she reverted to her old bad self, returning to her gross boss and his new ponzi-scheme-within-a-ponzi-scheme job. However, Michael stepped in — and Ted Danson stepped back behind the bar (Cheers to that wink) — to plant a seed (“What do we owe to each other?”) that would ultimately send Eleanor back on the right path. After watching Chidi’s online lecture about, well, what we owe to each other, she hopped to a plane to Australia, showed up at his office, and asked to chat, potentially in a bid to earn her place, unknowingly, in the Good Place.

Last year’s finale truly upended the Garden of Eden apple cart — The Good Place = The Bad Place! — and this year’s capper, while not disproving everything we knew, has turned the show on its head once again, setting up a third season that potentially will be Earth-bound. Here are some questions to consider during the long, cruel hiatus:

• Will next season — or at least the first chunk of episodes — take place on Earth?

• How soon will we see how Jason and Tahani are faring on Earth?

• Slight tweak on that: Did Jason immediately die again upon returning to Earth?

• Are the foursome’s futures still tied together even though they were sent back to Earth separately?

• Enough foreplay: Is actual romance in the cards for Eleanor and Chidi?

• Are our four characters living on some sort of borrowed time or deadline?

• Why was Chidi’s ticker pile so large?

• Janet (D’Arcy Carden) said she’s not just a Janet: “I don’t know what I am.” So, what is she now, exactly?

• What are the consequences of Michael’s interference in Eleanor’s do-over?

• That was Michael who saved Eleanor from the shopping carts, yes?

• Will Shawn and his Bad Place minions be able to give the foursome a push in the wrong direction and interfere with their lives on Earth as well?

• Now that Janet has professed her love for Jason, will she break a few rules to help him on Earth?

• Or seriously, did he die immediately?

• Given that Tahani said she only improved herself with Eleanor’s friendship, what kind of role will Eleanor play in their new Earth experiment?

• Might we ever see the quartet’s individual Medium Places?

• Will these four remember what they went through the first time in the afterlife, once they die again?

• How easy was it to get Ted Danson to play bartender again?

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Simpsons star Hank Azaria says the show will address Apu in wake of documentary

The producers of The Simpsons have been mum on The Problem with Apu, a recent truTV documentary from comedian (and Simpsons fan) Hari Kondabolu that asserts that the Indian Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is a problematic stereotype of South Asian people. But Hank Azaria, who voices the character, is indicating that the matter will be addressed, with possible changes to Apu.

“The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu on The Simpsons, or the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing, especially in post-9/11 America,” Azaria told reporters at the Television Critics Association in Pasadena during a panel for his IFC comedy Brockmire. “The idea that anybody was marginalized based on it or had a hard time was very upsetting to me personally and professionally. It’s a character I’ve done for 29 years now, and I’ve done it with a lot of love, and joy, and pride. That certainly wasn’t the intent. The intent was to make people laugh and bring joy. For it to cause suffering or pain in any way, it’s disturbing, actually.”

What is the future of the character, who stands one of the most recognizable tertiary characters on the long-running animated Fox comedy? Azaria, who is not of South Asian descent, stresses that the decision is not just up to him. “I think it’s really important when people express themselves about racial issues, what they feel is unfair or upsetting or distressing or makes them angry, sad or hurt,” he says. “The most important thing to do is listen, try to understand, try to sympathize, which is what I’m doing. I know that The Simpsons guys are doing that too; they’re giving it a lot of thought, and we’ve discussed a little bit. They will definitely address — maybe publicly, certainly creatively within the context of the show — what they want to do, if anything, with the character.”

For the record, Azaria does not view Apu as a “one-dimensional” character. “I see him as having a lot of wonderful qualities and great assets,” said the actor, who spoke briefly about the documentary last month, “As far as The Simpsons is concerned, it’s often a fine line between what’s comedy and what’s offensive and insulting and upsetting. The Simpsons over the years have been pretty humorously offensive to all manner of people — Republicans, Brazilians, presidents, high school principals, Italians — and they take a lot of pride over there in not apologizing for any of that. I think they’ve done a really good job of being, shall we say, uniformly offensive without being outright hurtful.”

The Simpsons, which airs Sunday nights on Fox, is currently in its 29th season.

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