The Schurniverse Exists: ‘The Good Place’ And ‘Parks And Rec’ Are In The Same Forking Universe
This is the BEST shared universe on television.
Overnight, we received definitive proof that the characters from Parks and Recreation live in the same world as those from The Good Place, together forming the purest and most powerful shared universe ever seen on screen.
Excellent Twitter user Darran Stobbart managed to spot the evidence that we needed to conclusively prove that two of our favourite TV worlds are set in the same extended universe. Using his eagle eyes, Stobbart noticed that in an episode of The Good Place, Eleanor is reading a copy of a magazine which features two ads with Pawnee ties.
The first is a champagne by Jean-Ralphio, Tom Haverford’s business partner and the wooOoOoOooOrst. It’s called ‘Jean-Ralphio Blanc de Blanc BRUT’ which is nonsense enough, but also has the slogan “Turn That Frizown Usidizity. The other ad is for a cologne called Glyde by Pawnee perfume mogul Dennis Feinstein (or Dante Fiero before he changed his name to something more exotic).
Just discovered that The Good Place takes place in the Parks and Rec universe and now by whole brain is crying. pic.twitter.com/UjtJLSclrA
— Words From Darran (@ShinraAlpha) February 6, 2018
Parks and Recreation and The Good Place are both shows produced and written by genius Mike Schur, so it’s not surprising that we can categorically place the two delightful stories in the same narratively linked universe — after all, Schur himself is kind of the “architect” of it all, the godlike figure who created all of our favourite characters.
But while it’s so satisfying for two of the best shows ever to grace television to be so inextricably linked, it does leave some troubling questions and paradoxes open to consider. Questions with answers we may not like.
Is Ben Wyatt a Demon?
The most heartwarming and beautiful and funny and sweet romance in Parks and Recreation is between our hero Leslie Knope and tight little elven former-mayor Ben Wyatt. From season two onwards we watch their awkward courtship blossom into a true partnership, and it is honestly romance goals.
But Ben Wyatt is played by Adam Scott, and Adam Scott also plays a demon named Trevor in The Good Place, who is a truly impressive level of douche.
Potentially that could mean Ben Wyatt was a demon all along, but this seems unlikely. We can’t find any canonical reason for a demon to go to earth and masquerade as a city budget specialist, or if it’s even possible. It’s more likely that Trevor has taken the form of Ben Wyatt when visiting the Good Place — something The Good Place has established that demons can do — and underneath his Ben Wyatt skin, is actually a giant fire-monster like demons seem to naturally be.
But, canonically, that means in order for the demon to take his form, Ben Wyatt is in the Bad Place. And THAT means that Ben Wyatt died somewhere shortly after the last time we see him in Parks and Recreation, which is unclear, because season 7 jumps around in time a lot. We know that he lives long enough to at least become a congressman at some point, but does die, and leaves Leslie and the kids alone. That’s heartbreaking.
I’m not particularly confused as to why he goes to the Bad Place however — it’s clearly his love of calzones.
if leslie knope got to the good place and ANY of her friends weren’t there, she would tear the entire afterlife to the ground. https://t.co/qj7DhchLct
— Matt Collette (@matt_pc) February 6, 2018
Did Janet Create Dennis Feinstein?
A similar issue is that perfume mogul and hunter of humans Dennis Feinstein is played by the wonderful Jason Mantzoukas who ALSO plays Janet’s inhuman boyfriend Derek.
Janet created Derek to be her rebound guy after Jason, however was only partially successful at creating a “person”. For example, Derek has no genitals, but he does have wind-chimes instead of a penis. He has access to all the information in the universe, but being only about 7 hours old, has no context for anything, so is surprised by things like mirrors. The last we see of him, he’s been given to cocaine aficionado Mindy St Clair as a sex toy in the Medium Place.
We can softly assume that Dennis Feinstein is still alive, due to his perfumes still being advertised — so it’s probably not ACTUALLY him that has been transformed into Derek. More likely, Janet randomly chose Feinstein to model Derek’s physical appearance off.
Why? Well, why not I guess. We know she has access to every human ever, and Jason Mantzoukas/ Feinstein is quite a handsome guy.
Considering that Parks and Rec and The Good Place share the same universe, would it be too far-fetched to assume that Mike Schur’s other shows The Office and Brooklyn Nine-Nine would ALSO take place in what i’m calling the Schurniverse, the Mike Schur Shared Universe?
Geographically, all four of the shows take place in the same actual world, with mostly the same rules and rough timelines. There’s nothing that specifically says that they’re not all happily co-existing in various parts of America (and the afterlife).
We can also explain Jason Mantzoukas’s roles in all three shows quite clearly — in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, he plays a cop named Adrian Pimento who has been undercover for YEARS when he’s introduced to the squad. We can assume that one of his false identities, his covers, was actually Dennis Feinstein, who is clearly an intro to the shady world of big-perfume money.
Likewise, there are quite a few crossovers from Brooklyn Nine-Nine into Parks and Recreation — and we can only assume that Andy Samberg’s wonderfully dumb security guard and animal handler in Pawnee is actually Detective Jake Peralta solving a crime of some sort. Likewise, we can maybe guess that Craig Robinson’s Doug Judy from Brooklyn Nine-Nine maybe worked as a warehouse foreman in The Office before he embarked on his life of crime… or perhaps was even running some kind of scam? It just… works.
Although, once we accept that all of these shows are part of the Schurniverse, then we actually have to include the TV show New Girl in that same universe, due to the crossover episodes between Brooklyn Nine-Nine and New Girl. Just how far does this tangled web go? Will we be able to follow the thread all the way back to Ted Danson in Cheers?
*Chidi lectures Ron on ethics*
*Ron hands Chidi a piece of paper*
“Ron, this just says “I can do what I want” on it?”
— Words From Darran (@ShinraAlpha) February 6, 2018
The Paradoxes of the Schurniverse
Unfortunately, the Schurniverse creates more problems than we can easily solve, and most of those are why there are identical looking people wandering around on earth. We could explain perhaps one or two away as coincidences, or twins separated at birth, but once you start investigating the overwhelming amount of crossovers in this shared universe, it seems insurmountable.
One of the biggest is Kristen Bell’s Eleanor Shellstrop, who is literally the protagonist of The Good Place — but is somehow also a councilwoman from Eagleton in Parks and Recreation. It doesn’t make sense in any way — they lived at the same time, in the same timeline, but in wildly different places with dramatically different personalities. Perhaps there will be some kind of dramatic twist that The Good Place is so well known for that will help it come together but… I’m not confident.
The list continues — did Ron Swanson have a homosexual affair with Captain Holt? Did Holt’s husband somehow end up as a demon judge in the bad place/ why was he also Jean-Ralphio’s dad’s attorney? How did Rashida Jones go from her sales rep job in Scranton, Pennsylvania to being the world’s best nurse in Pawnee, Indiana?
It just doesn’t add up, and I hope that Mr Schur addresses the potentially devastating problems in the Schurniverse soon. Depending on how currently active shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place pan out, their plot lines could ripple out and affect more than simply their own show, changing the fates and histories of beloved characters all over the world.
All it takes is one twist affecting Eleanor in The Good Place to somehow impact on Jess Day in New Girl. It’s the televisual equivalent of the butterfly effect. It’s dramatic, world-changing stuff. Or it could just be a little joke that Schur threw in for the TV dinks, whatever.
Patrick Lenton is a staff writer at Junkee, writer and author. He Tweets @patricklenton.