The Good Place offers the promise of eternal paradise. For some people, that would include unlimited maple bacon donuts. For others, it would be a non-stop feed of the Yankees being swept out of the playoffs, year after year after year after year. But for almost everyone, the prospect of seeing a Parks and Recreation character or two pop up on The Good Place would be like treating yo self to heaven of the highest order.
This delightful and intriguing crossover idea isn’t necessarily something that fans would expect simply because Good Place creator Mike Schur also happens to have birthed Parks and Rec. But he and his writers seemed to at least dangle this possibility by slyly inserting a few Parks references on his NBC afterlife comedy. For example, in season 1, when Tahani saw the points leaderboard, in third place was Bjoern Lerpiss, who appeared in multiple episodes of Parks and Recreation, and the safe in which Jason (Manny Jacinto) suffocated was made by the Swanson Safe Company. Even more definitively, in season 2, as Eleanor (Kristen Bell) was reading Celebrity Baby Plastic Surgery Disasters, sharp-eyed viewers noticed that there were ads in her magazine for Jean-Ralphio’s champagne (Motto: “Turn that frizown upsidizity”), as well as for Dennis Feinstein’s eau de toilette Glyde.
So, how much should you, fingers-crossed fan, read into the idea that these two comedies truly share a universe? “It’s mostly for fun,” Schur tells EW. “It’s fun to do — and because sometimes you need a magazine ad on the back of a magazine, and it’s easier to come up with a fake product and put it in there than it is to clear a real product. I don’t think we’re really trying to say that at some point anyone’s going to be walking down the street and run into Ron Swanson. But Parks and Rec had an intense fan base, and we always tried to lay in fun Easter eggs in Parks and Rec for various people, for people who were fans of sabermetric baseball statistics, so [this] is along the same lines. These are little things we like to lay in just for people to enjoy — and to find on a little Easter egg hunt. It’s 99 percent for that reason.”
Is it just us, or did he just say that there’s a one-percent chance that Councilman Jamm could be sleazing up the Bad Place, or Lil Sebastian could be galloping around the Good Place? And besides, now that our quartet has been granted a second chance on Earth, it would seem easier than ever to facilitate such a crossover. Is this something that the show’s writers even considered following that turn of events? “I don’t think we talked about it,” says Schur. “Despite the fact that we’re being coy Little Lord Fauntleroys by winking and nodding and nudging with these little references, that show is that show and this show is this show. Those little references are more just for fun. I don’t want to disparage the idea, but… we’re not really pointing at anything involving Parks and Rec.”
Of course, if they were, some reality-disrupting logic would need to be suspended, given that actors including Adam Scott, Marc Evan Jackson, Kristen Bell and Jason Mantzoukas have appeared on both shows playing different characters. But for the record, Schur doesn’t consider that issue a significant barrier to entry. “Especially in a show that plays with genre, space-time stuff, I’m sure there’s a way that we could figure out some kind of multiverse explanation, right?” he says. “We could have Doctor Strange show up and say that he’s looked at 14 million versions of Good Place [outcomes] and there’s only one in which Parks and Rec characters appear and this is the one — and in all the other ones Thanos killed half the people. This is getting really complicated, now it’s a Marvel crossover too. It’s not like we can’t overcome it, but I don’t think it’s what we’re after right now.” (But iiiiiiiiif it was, which Pawnee resident would Schur personally most like to see pop up? “Maybe Ethel Beavers. She’s had a very long and rich life. Would like to see it properly celebrated.”
Even if your dreams have been 99-percent dashed, you can keep an eye out for another Parks wink or two in upcoming episodes, including in tonight’s installment (8:30 p.m. ET/PT, NBC). “A number of objects appear at a certain moment,” he says, “and buried within that pile of objects, there are a couple Easter eggs. In fact, one of them is another Parks and Rec Easter egg. So, happy hunting, everybody!”