Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

We asked The Good Place’s Michael Schur: Which Game Of Thrones characters were based on Tahani?

Photo: Colleen Hayes (NBC)

In addition to being one of the best shows on TV, The Good Place is a dense knot of running jokes, visual humor, references to dense philosophy tomes, and breadcrumbs for later episodes. In order to help you keep it all straight, The A.V. Club will be annotating the show’s fourth and final season. Catch something that we didn’t? Email us at youforkingmissedit@avclub.com

Read our recap of “Chillaxing.”


A programming note

I’m pressed for time this week, and I also put most of my annotating energy into the biggest and most intriguing of “Chillaxing”’s running jokes, so apologies for the shorter post. Also, and it hurts to admit this while considering the fourth-season episode with the greatest number of explicit philosophy references to date: I’m just going to dispense with the pretense that I know anything about philosophy this week. Besides (and maybe I’ll explore this in greater depth elsewhere), given the trajectory of the past few episodes, I’m beginning to wonder if one of The Good Place’s final epiphanies will be that moral and ethical philosophy is important, but not the all-in-one solution humankind needs.

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And now, without further ado, let us consider the truly important things in life: Like which fictional characters were fictionally inspired by a fictional character.

“You should tell him how eight different characters from Game Of Thrones are based on you”

Another thing that pains me about abbreviating this week’s post is that it’s positively spilling over with Tahani Al-Jamil talking about the famous people she knew on Earth. (I do not envy the Vulture staff’s next update to its “Every Celebrity Tahani Has Name-Dropped On The Good Place” list.) But Tahani can forget all the stories about encouraging Timothée Chalamet to get some vitamin D or the tragic tale of the Blake Lively-thrown Leonardo DiCaprio birthday party aboard Paul Allen’s superyacht. If she were trying to get in The A.V. Club’s good graces, all she’d have to do is let us know that there are multiple citizens of Westeros who bear a trace of Tahani. The mind immediately leaps to the regal poise, imperious air, private-quarters sniping, and hidden insecurities of nobility like Cersei Lannister and Margaery Tyrell. The “overlooked child of wealth and privilege” aspects of Tyrion Lannister and Theon Greyjoy seems to fit the bill as well. We later learn that six of these eight characters “would go on the attack” if faced with an adversary like John, so why not Ygritte? Also, she’s tall, so: Brienne.

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My A.V. Club colleagues and I knocked around some other names—are her gossiping tendencies more Varys or Littlefinger? Certainly The Queen Of Thorns is in the mix—but I figured “Why not go straight to the source,” so I dropped a line to NBC publicity, who offered to forward some extremely serious email questions about this very short sitcom joke to showrunner Michael Schur. I was forewarned that “it’s not that great of an answer,” but like—if I had to guess—at least three of the Game Of Thrones characters based on Tahani, I pressed on, and will add Schur’s responses to this post when they arrive.

UPDATE: And here they are!

The A.V. Club: How was this joke pitched? Did it begin as eight characters, or was the number attached later?

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Michael Schur: No—someone pitched that line and we just put it right into the script.

AVC: Did the writers go so far as to think of which eight GOT characters could’ve been inspired by Tahani?

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MS: We did have a discussion at one point, just for fun, and we threw out possibilities, but we never got close to actually deciding.

AVC: Which GOT characters do you think have Tahani-like qualities?

MS: Literally all of them, except like Hot Pie and the Hound.

AVC: Did Jameela Jamil have any guesses as to which characters were based on Tahani? 

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MS: Never asked her! Maybe I should…

AVC: Just for kicks, here’s who my A.V. Club colleagues and I think they were: Cersei, Sansa, Margaery, Ygritte, Brienne, Tyrion, Varys, and Olenna.

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AVC: Just for kicks, here’s who I and my A.V. Club colleagues think they were: Cersei, Sansa, Margaery, Ygritte, Brienne, Tyrion, Varys, and Olenna.

MS: Those are all good. I’d add, as possibilities: Dany, The Mountain, Littlefinger… and Hot Pie and The Hound. (Kidding.)

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“No. 42 was ‘Watch Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, so I did that too. It was okay. It’s just a lot of the same songs as the first one.”

An unnecessary fact-check: Of the 20 songs featured both in the film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and on its soundtrack, eight were previously heard in Mamma Mia and the first film’s soundtrack. That’s two recycled ABBA hits to every three Benny Andersson-Björn Ulvaeus compositions being introduced to the Mamma Mia-verse. And yet none of this is as shocking as the fact that they held “Fernando” back for the sequel.

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And while we’re sticking to extremely European entertainments: The movie is not the answer to post-break-up blues that Janet is looking for, but its placement on a list of things humans do to cope with relationships ending is an answer, of a sort: 42, or the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. (“Chillaxing” is also the 42nd episode of The Good Place.)

“It’s not like Janet has a car you can key, or a house you can “Left Eye” Lopes”

On the morning of June 9, 1994, the tumultuous relationship between TLC’s Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and then-Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Andre Rison erupted in flames: Following an altercation, Lopes grabbed a pair of Rison’s sneakers, threw them in a bathtub, and lit them on fire. The fiberglass tub melted, the fire spread, and Lopes was eventually charged with first-degree arson and admitted to a rehab facility for substance abuse. The incident lead indirectly to Left Eye’s verse on “Waterfalls,” as well as the best part of the trashy early ’00s VH1 countdown special 100 Most Shocking Moments In Rock & Roll: Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins’ and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas’ ping-ponging recollections of the incident, culminating in all the mustard Chilli puts on her delivery of “Lisa burned the house down!”

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Headlines from Gossiptoilet.com

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If I were John’s editor, I would’ve given him a bonus for the pinnacle of his Gigi-Hadid-in-Bali coverage, “I’ve Hadid Up To Here.”

Ponzu Scheme sign

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I could be wrong, but that appears to be pieces of sushi organized into a diagram of a ponzi scheme?

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