Executive producer and creator of a new NBC series entitled "The Good Place," Michael Schur, explained that while the comedy is set in the afterlife, that plot doesn't make it just a religious show. Is The Good Place actually heaven? The series premieres Sept. 19, at 10 p.m. ET/PT before moving to its regular time slot on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m., starting Sept. 22.
"It is very important to make clear in the first 30 seconds of pilot, this is not one religion's concept of the afterlife," Schur told The Hollywood Reporter. "I did a lot of research."
The pilot follows the character Eleanor Shellstrop, played by Kristen Bell, ("House of Lies," "Veronica Mars"), an ordinary woman who, through an extraordinary string of events, enters the afterlife where she comes to realize she hasn't been a very good person on Earth. In actuality, her arriving into the Good Place is a mistake. With help from her wise afterlife mentor, played by Ted Danson, ("Bored to Death," "Cheers"), she's determined to shed her old way of living and discover the better person within herself.
Schur said he studied a variety of theological studies and holy documents. "I 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."
In fact, Schur said the idea of the plot is that "not only Christians from Europe can make it to heaven."
"It is very flatly stated that this is not any one religion," Schur stated. "There's a line when Kristen says to Ted, 'Who was right about all this, the Hindus, Buddhist, Muslims? And he says every religion got it about 5 percent right.' Now, in 1986 that line would have gotten strong pushback. (Today,) no one ever said a word about that line."
The Good Place, in this TV concept, reflects a vibrant neighborhood, with people representing all manners of creeds, faiths and opinions. They have different belief systems and the show finds humor in all and none of them, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
The show is directed by Drew Goddard, the Oscar-nominated writer of "The Martian."
To promote the new show, the staff encouraged people to do good deeds in the local communities for the past 30 days.
NBC already announced The Good Place's first season will be just 13 episodes. A Yahoo TV review stated the show manages to tackle thorny issues, such as morality and religion, while still delivering the most laughs of any new series this fall.