The NBC show The Good Place will come to a close with Thursday’s 90-minute series finale. But before we say goodbye to the Emmy-nominated critical darling, we have to give it props for its many smartly stupid Florida jokes.
The loopy afterlife comedy is the brainchild of Mike Schur (co-creator of Parks and Rec, The Office and Brooklyn Nine-Nine). An extended after-show will follow the finale. It’s hosted by Seth Myers featuring the Good Place cast, which includes Ted Danson, Kristen Bell, Jameela Jamil, William Jackson Harper, D’Arcy Carden and Manny Jacinto.
The series has been described as the smartest dumb show on television. As consultants, philosophy professors guide the comedy’s writers, and the special effects department has dreamed up flying puppies and giant shrimp falling from the sky. Restaurants feature names with food puns like Beignet and the Jets and the Pesto’s Yet to Come.
The Good Place set out to prove that mankind has the potential to grow and be better, so it offers plenty of evidence of when we fall short. And Florida is not immune.
Marc Evan Jackson, who plays Shawn from the Bad Place on the series and hosts a weekly podcast about it, brought up the show’s mockery of Floridians while moderating The Good Place panel at San Diego Comic-Con in 2018. Kristen Bell, who plays Eleanor, jumped in to apologize to Florida and added, “But you guys get it!”
Indeed, we do.
The Florida jokes mostly come from the character Jason Mendoza, played by Jacinto, the endearing dimwit who may be the only Jaguars fan in the history of TV. At one point Jason — who is dead, because the comedy takes place in the afterlife — asks Michael, played by Danson, if Jacksonville has won the Super Bowl since his death. Michael just laughs.
“Oh, you’re serious,” he says, realizing Jason expects an answer. “No.”
“Will they ever win the Super Bowl?” Jason asks.
“Jason, I can’t predict the future. But no,” Michael says firmly. “They won’t.”
Jason carries serious pride for Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, who was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in the 2019 season. Jason shouts “Bortles!” about as often as he throws Molotov cocktails (which he does far too often). Since the series became popular, Jacinto has said people yell “Bortles!” at him on the street now.
When the Jags had a pretty good season in 2018, the show worked it into the plot, saying the characters’ activities had so disturbed the universe that the Jaguars actually made the playoffs. Jacinto paid a visit to the playoff game and was hailed by the Jags and the town as a hero.
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Arizona, home of Bell’s character, gets its share of dirtbag humor as well. When she’s introduced in a recent episode as the pride of Phoenix, she responds, "Technically, the pride of Phoenix is a life-size statue of Alice Cooper made from cigarette butts — it’s outside city hall.”
But Florida in particular supplies rich material. The comedy is peppered with one-liners hilariously thrown in to paint Jacksonville as a lawless swamp-city dominated by aspiring DJs and gator wranglers. In addition to that crack about the Jaguars never winning the Super Bowl, here are 14 more of our favorite Florida jokes:
1. “I went to Lynyrd Skynyrd High School in northeast Jacksonville," Jason says in Season 2, "which was really just a bunch of tugboats tied together.” When asked whether he ever got sea sick, he responds, “No, they were tied together in a junkyard. It wasn’t a very good school. For most of my classes, we just sold dirty magazines door-to-door.”
2. In Season 3, the characters visit Jason’s hometown, and the locale allows the show to load up on the Jacksonville jokes more than ever. A monster truck called Cabz pulls up to Randy Macho Man Savage Non-International Airport and runs over a traditional-sized cab.
3. “You’re basically like a hot genius teacher who sometimes has sex with me, your student," Jason once told Tahani. "That used to happen a lot at Lynyrd Skynyrd High School, but this time you won’t be arrested.”
4. Jason suggests earlier this season that Chidi should sleep with the judge to get them out of trouble: “I’ve done that a bunch of times. It’s called a Jacksonville plea bargain!”
5. The four main characters ask Janet, a humanlike database played by Carden who has all the knowledge of the universe, to describe what their Earth funerals were like. She tells Jason, “Your friends didn’t say things about you so much as they graffitied a Red Lobster about you.” Jason responds knowingly: “In Jacksonville, that’s the first stage of grief.” On The Good Place podcast, writer Josh Siegal explained that the other four stages of grief in Jacksonville, which were cut from the episode, are ATV race, tattoo fight, prank call the morgue and graffiti the morgue (in that order).
6. Later in the funeral episode, they re-create their ceremonies for each other. Jason’s is in a swimming pool. “There’s a Jacksonville tradition of having your funeral where you were born,” he says. “I got born in the deep end of a pool right after my mom did a cannonball.”
7. During Tahani’s eulogy for Jason, she says that despite his difficult childhood, he always looked on the bright side. “He once told me the closest he’d ever gotten to having a pinata on his birthday was when a seagull ate too many condoms on the beach and exploded,” Tahani says, causing Jason to smile fondly.
8. In Season 1, Eleanor asks Jason, “You crashed your jet ski into a manatee?” Jason responds, “Yeah. I’m from Jacksonville, Florida. It happens a lot.”
9. Jason’s dream is to hit it big with his dance crew and as a DJ: “I don’t want to be a DJ in Jacksonville forever. I want to DJ in Daytona, Tallahassee — Tampa even. I want it all.”
10. Deep philosophical topics such as utilitarianism are discussed on the series. After Chidi tries to explain the concept, Jason responds: “I get it. It’s like I knew this girl Sheila. She was a black market alligator dealer with a pierced jawbone. ... Sheila was going to get married to my boy Donkey Doug and make him move to Sarasota. It would have broken up our whole dance crew, and Donkey Doug was our best pop and locker. So I hid a bunch of stolen boogie boards in Sheila’s garage and called the cops. I framed one innocent gator dealer to save a 60-person dance crew.”
11. A Bad Place architect tells Jason it’s lucky for him that “Jaguars games are the only ones televised in the Bad Place because they suuuck!” Jason snaps back, “No they don’t! All we need is a defense and an offense and some rule changes.”
12. “I love getting my name on stuff. In Jacksonville, I got a flu virus named after me ’cause I kissed a bat on a dare.”
13. “My cousin once hired me to do crowd control for his off-brand SeaWorld. Well, technically, it was just a bunch of kiddie pools full of jellyfish, and instead of a killer whale, they killed a whale.”
14. “Are these from my favorite restaurant, Stupid Nick’s Wing Dump?” Jason once asked. Janet responds, “Stupid Nick’s closed down because a pelican fell in the flash fryer, but he opened a new place called Ugly Nick’s Meat Trench. These are an exact replica of that recipe.”
The Good Place
The series finale airs at 8:30 p.m. Thursday on NBC. Watch previous seasons via Hulu, Netflix and nbc.com.