Jason and Vivienne are hosts of the podcast Forkin’ Bullshirt, which is devoted to the NBC sitcom The Good Place. The series, which is headlined by Ted Danson and Kristen Bell, follows a group of humans as they journey through the afterlife and try to discover their best selves. Danson stars as Michael, the architect of their corner of eternity. Philosophy and personal growth are major themes of the very original premise of The Good Place. All episodes of Forkin’ Bullshirt can be listened to online at: www.multiverseradio.ca
Some spoilers are detailed in the interview.
Flat Circle: Why did you decide to devote a podcast to The Good Place?
Jason: Vie was watching The Good Place as it was airing, and loving it. It didn’t seem like my kind of show, but I never gave it a chance. As soon as season one ended, and I read about the ending I was pretty sure I’d like it. She wanted to podcast about it, like, a lot, and I was encouraged by her enthusiasm. I thought it could be a great way to explore the show, especially since there was a lot more to it than one might see at face value.
Vivienne: I fell in love with podcasts a couple of years ago and I always thought it would be fun to make one of my own. The Good Place hits a lot of my buttons: comedy, philosophy, and an element of surprise. As soon as season one was over, I was eager to over-analyze every episode and I thought someone else might enjoy listening to that!
FC: Is it challenging to be able to devote a podcast to just one television show?
J: I don’t listen to podcasts, so I didn’t really know how people do these things. I think that made it easier, personally. It’s really helpful to just focus on a single episode of a single show every week, with nothing else to distract you. I can’t really imagine doing it any other way, and honestly the idea is kind of daunting!
V: Not in the slightest. I enjoy a lot of other podcasts that are devoted to one TV show and I enjoy the detailed analysis that comes from a narrow focus. You see, I was an English major…
FC: You also host the podcast Burger of the Week, a show devoted to Bob’s Burgers. The average running length of Burger of the Week looks to be roughly half of Forkin’ Bullshirt. What is it about The Good Place that allows you to dissect that sitcom more than Bob’s Burgers?
J: For starters, The Good Place is a serialized show, and that makes every episode important. Each episode has an impact on every other episode, so talking about one, can lead to implications on another. There’s also a lot more depth to The Good Place, with its carefully structured story, and character arcs. Bob’s Burgers is just plain old fun. Episodes don’t relate, there’s hardly any continuity, and there’s really not much beneath the surface.
V: As Jason mentioned, The Good Place is serialized and during season one we kept the body of the podcast spoiler free and had a spoiler zone at the end which always added more time.
J: And mail!
V: We also get lots of listener feedback, questions and thoughts, which are fun to respond to. However the main thing that allows us to dissect the sitcom more is the philosophy. I have a lot of fun diving deep into the little tidbits and seeing how they relate to the series as a whole. Plus it allows for some interesting debate!
FC: One thing that I enjoy about Forkin’ Bullshirt is how you break down a little of the moral philosophy discussed in the show. Have you taken away anything from Chidi’s philosophy’s lessons?
J: Philosophy is really subjective. Like, a stupid amount. It really makes sense how philosophers could sit around and debate for ages. I am a moral particularist. I just decided. Also, don’t be like Chidi. That should be everyone’s takeaway.
V: I mean, he did end up in The Bad Place…
J: Right, so learn from Chidi.
V: I’ve always found moral philosophy interesting, but hosting this podcast has given me the opportunity to revisit what I learned in university, and explore new (to me) concepts and theories. My takeaway – stay curious about the world.
FC: Have you reached a point where we can trust Michael, or are his demon tendencies always going to get the best of him?
V and J: I think we’ve reached a point in the show where we can trust Michael. The most recent episodes show Michael taking risks to help the humans, and show him genuinely and emotionally connecting with others. Some of these interactions occur without the presence of the humans, so we know Michael isn’t simply ‘putting on a show’ for them.
FC: There is a contemporary construction of heaven in The Good Place. What would your ideal “Good Place” look like?
J: I think mine would be similar to Jason Mendoza’s bud hole. A super awesome chill pad in a pleasant little neighbourhood, some really stellar ice cream parlours, a massive movie theatre (I would always get the best seats), and a constantly revolving selection of restaurants. And I could definitely fly. Oh and I’d have to be able to visit the living down on Earth and be a spooky ghost sometimes. For funsies.
V: I’m too indecisive to pick one place, so naturally it would be ever evolving and dependant on my mood. Some days I would love it to be a small town filled with people I love, where I can go home to a lovely cottage, sit in front of a fire, and be alone. Other days it would be a whole world I could explore.
J: Alone huh? NO I GET IT.
V: Shush. I assumed it was understood that we’d be there together.
J: OH YEAH. ASSUMED.
FC: There is a distinct possibility that the characters are on their way to meet God. Who would be your choice to play Him or Her on The Good Place?
V: Amy Poehler… –
J (interrupting like a jerk): Nicolas Cage?
V: NO. That can be your answer.
J: I don’t think we’ll see a god figure, I think I mentioned in our podcast a few episodes back that both The Good Place and The Bad Place are run by neutral shareholders. BUT if there were to be God, I think I’d go with the classic Kevin Smith version of God played by Alanis Morisette. She was a great God.
FC: Who is your favorite regular on The Good Place?
V: D’Arcy Carden as Janet. She was incredible last season, and she’s somehow even better this season. Plus her unique character has lead to a lot of interesting debates on our podcast. #EmmyforDArcy
J: Ditto. I think Janet is surprisingly one of the most interesting characters on the show, and has the most bizarre arc. Originally viewed (by me) as a simple one dimensional “tool” for the characters to use, she has turned into something much deeper, even a little intimidating, and potentially scary. Her powers are becoming more obvious, and she literally created a dude. Plus, Bad Janet is hilarious.
FC: Do you have any predictions on how the story might finish on season two?
J: I think the season will end with The Trial. I don’t expect there to be another season changing twist, but knowing that the show has been renewed for season three allows them to end on a bit of a cliffhanger. I think it will have something to do with something unexpected happening in the courtroom.
V: I don’t think we’ll be left hanging on a verdict, I think we’ll receive a verdict and it will change the show as we know it. As for what that change will be, I’m excited to be surprised.
J: The writers certainly do know how to surprise us! I think that’s a big reason why we both love this show.