The Good Place's Brent leans back on a sofa with a smug look.

With Brent, The Good Place Has Introduced a Character Worse Than Any Demon

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**Spoilers for episodes 1 & 2 of The Good Place season four.**

We’re now four seasons into NBC’s The Good Place, and the Mike Schur afterlife comedy has introduced its most evil character yet. But for a show filled with literal demons, its worst character isn’t immortal—it’s Brent Norwalk, the sexist, narcissistic, recently-deceased human Eleanor and the gang are supposed to get to improve himself.

Brent is, without a doubt, the literal worst. As Eleanor describes him, he’s the kind of guy who was “born on third base, thinks he invented the game of baseball.” His biggest accomplishment on Earth was inheriting a $90 million “materials” company and growing it to a $94 million company “in just 18 years.” He went to Princeton—”No handouts, by the way. I earned my spot there, just like my father and his father before him.” He can’t be bothered to learn anyone’s names, and he brought an actual SUV into the Good Place. He says he can’t be racist because he had a Black dentist. The. Worst.

He is, also, incredibly misogynistic. He makes Janet make “outfits” (presumably lingerie or something skimpy) for him to give back to her to wear (which she refuses to do). He legitimately thinks it’s a credit to his sense of trustworthiness that he “routinely buried HR complaints.” He’s actually fine with the fact that he died, even, because “Some journalist was poking around calling all these ladies who used to work for me. You can’t make a joke these days. Everything is so PC.” Brent is the entire reason the #MeToo movement exists.

While Brent is most definitely the butt of this joke, his awfulness isn’t really played for laughs. Kristen Bell’s dead-eyed reactions are absolutely perfect because we’ve all met men like this, and it’s bad enough to find yourself trapped in a bar with one, let alone to be tasked with trying to get him to change his entire sense of morality.

Ultimately, Eleanor and Michael decide they’ll never be able to get Brent to be self-aware enough to genuinely want to improve, so they resort to tricking him into going after the morality points. But there was another option I desperately wanted to see.

Besides Brent, the other big problem on Eleanor and Michael’s plate is Simone, who has convinced herself that none of what’s happening is real and that it only exists in her own mind. They’ve roped Chidi into helping her come to terms with this reality, but I was really holding out hope that they would pit these two problems against each other—because, ultimately, they both really have the same problem: neither believes anything matters or even exists outside of their own minds.

If we’re trying to get a man like Brent to realize he’s not the center of the entire universe, can you think of anything that would make him angrier than a solipsistic Black woman who doesn’t even believe he exists? It wouldn’t even necessarily fix anything. I just want to see how angry Simone could make Brent. How red do you think his face could get? I’m guessing really red.

So far, these two characters haven’t even spoken to each other. But I can’t stop imagining what would happen to Brent’s psyche if they did, and I need that in my life.

(image: screencap)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.