The Good Place and Parks and Recreation

Mike Schur and Dan Goor’s Ability to Say Goodbye

image: NBC

**Spoilers for the series finales of The Good Place and Parks and Recreation lie within**

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Mike Schur and Dan Goor have mastered the art of digging their claws into our hearts and then promptly ripping them out. With the rise of The Good Place, fans found a show that gave them what Parks and Recreation did but for a 2016-2020 audience. (And let me tell you, it’s hard to want to laugh during a Donald Trump presidency).

When watching the series finale of The Good Place, I couldn’t help but think about the finale of Parks and Recreation and the ways in which the two episodes were formatted. Schur and Goor are so good at giving fans so much time with these characters for our worlds of fanfiction and dreaming while still giving them complete stories.

Much like Leslie Knope’s entire life shown before us, The Good Place finale spanned thousands and thousands of Bearimys leaving us so much that we didn’t see. While Parks and Recreation didn’t go full Six Feet Under and show everyone’s deaths (just Jerry/Gary/Larry/Terry’s), The Good Place did essentially do that.

Things are now set up so that whenever beings are ready to become just fragments of the universe, the occupants of the Good Place can choose when their time in the universe has ended. Whenever they’re ready, they can walk through the door in the redwoods and end their journey. At one point, Michael all but begs to go through because he can’t exist anymore. (P.S. Remember when Ben Wyatt got to geek out in Endor? Mike Schur sure does love an emotional moment in the redwoods.)

Thinking about each character finding the peace within them to just move on brings tears to my eyes even now. This episode, like the Parks finale, was full of small, simple, but poignant moments that remind us what these shows mean.

With Parks, the moment that broke me was when Ben Wyatt quietly realizes how much Leslie loves him and how she would do anything for him and, in true Ben fashion, he gives up his own dream for her.

ben wyatt leslie knope

image: nbc

Watching that moment, I sobbed and didn’t stop from then on out because that’s what Schur’s endings are all about and always have been about. It is about fundamentally understanding these characters and their wants and desires and giving them the ending they each deserve in their own way. Even Michael Scott got this on The Office when he came back for the finale and literally only said “That’s what she said” and a quote about his kids that had us all crying.

Michael Scott says "It's like all my kids grew up, and then they married each other."

image: nbc

The finale of The Good Place was very much the same. I was a little emotional, crying as each character made the decision, but the moment that broke me is when Eleanor realized she couldn’t keep Chidi just because of her own fears of being alone.

eleanor on the good place

image: nbc

Maybe I was reminded of Parks and Recreation because of the very clear moments that broke me or maybe it is because there is just a distinct feel to a Mike Schur/Dan Goor show that always hits in the same way but I loved every second of The Good Place and the finale made me so hopeful for us, as humans, and the beauty we can still create with our work, time and time again.

It also didn’t help that Nick Offerman and/or Ron Swanson shows up in the Good Place and teaches Tahini how to build a chair (one of many cameos that made me scream in my home and cry).

I’m crying as I’m writing this because something just stays with you after Schur and Goor finish a show. They want you to think about the journey we just watched, the growth, and how each character chose to live their lives. That’s a beauty that very few manage to bottle and while I never want a Schur/Goor show to end, at least I always know that the ending makes me fall in love just as much as the beginning.

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.