‘Good Place’ Creator Michael Schur Didn’t Know The Aussie Accents Were That Bad

The creator of The Good Place, Michael Schur, explained the dumb-as-hell Aussie accents in season three to E! Online.

Spoilers! The first part of the new season has been largely set in Australia, because Chidi (William Jackson Harper) teaches at a fictional university in Sydney. Which means that almost every character – except for actual Australians like Ben Lawson as a forgotten Hemsworth brother – in that setting has a put-on godawful ‘Strayan accent. The kind of caricature accent that makes your ears bleed.

But Schur says the rubbish Aussie accents were not on purpose. In the case of Kirby Howell-Baptiste‘s Simone, Schur admits that he honestly just has no idea what a good or bad attempt at our natural way of speaking is – Australia is not secretly the Bad Place.

In her case, she was just the best actor for the job. My ear, and anyone’s ear who lives in the States, for how good or bad an Australian accent is, is always going to be functioning at maybe 10 per cent of what a native’s would be.

So, to me, when it’s a part like somebody you meet in a bar, of course you’re going to hire an Australian actor because the accent will be authentic. When you’re looking for a person who plays a more significant role – and Simone was the love interest for one of the main characters -you’re not starting from the place of who has the most accurate accent. You’re starting from the place of who’s the best actor. And she’s incredibly talented and very charming, so if she had never even attempted an Australian accent before I wouldn’t have cared. I would have much rather have had the right actor in that role.

In the interview, Schur also explained that even in season one it was important for Chidi to live on the other side of the world to Kristen Bell‘s Eleanor. And that her flying to Aus from Arizona to find Chidi at the end of season two is a big “gesture“, a “leap of faith” as she’s about to “put her moral life in the hands of a stranger she’s never met“.

He credits the art and production departments as adding all the uniquely Australian touches, like the right kinda power outlets or the presence of Bundy ginger beer. But for Schur, well, he was just trying to cram in as many stupid Australia jokes as possible.

We tried, as much as we could, to cast native Australians in a lot of these roles and the art department did a really good job of building things that looked like Australia. Then we just loaded the show with dumb Australia jokes. Just super, lazy, dumb Australia jokes.

One such joke? Well apparently the names of literally every place, like banks, grocery stores, and cafes reference Finding Nemo.

There’s one running joke that started in a flashback in the second season when Chidi is having dinner with his friend, and the art department needed a name for the restaurant. Someone pitched Eating Nemo, and you can actually see it on the back of the menu. So, this season when we needed a bar for Eleanor to drink at it became Drinking Nemo, any store became something ‘Nemo’, as if the entire continent of Australia was so proud of the movie Finding Nemo that the whole nation had gone gaga for Nemo names.

And then there’s easter egg things even within that. For example, the grocery store that Chidi goes into when he buys all the chilli is called BNG, which stands for ‘Bagging Nemo Groceries’. And the bank that Tahani goes to when she wants to transfer all her money to Jason is called FNB, which stands for ‘Financing Nemo Bank’. And the café where Chidi dumps Simone in her last episode is called French Pressing Nemo, and there’s a picture of a French press with fish bones sticking out of it. It just goes on and on and on. There’s literally no joke too stupid for us in connecting it to Finding Nemo.

Funny huh?

New eps of The Good Place drop every Friday on Netflix.