The Good Place loves Friends. There’s no secret there. The NBC afterlife comedy has mentioned Friends on numerous occasions, most of them from Michael (Ted Danson), the reformed demon who previously set out to torture deceased humans Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Jason (Manny Jacinto) and Tahani (Jameela Jamil). In the show’s penultimate episode, The Good Place took its winking at Friends even further.
Previous mentions include this nugget about Michael preparing to meet the humans: “So, to prepare to meet all of you, I studied the human concept of friends. I even watched all 10 seasons of the show Friends. Boy, those Friends really were friends, weren’t they? Although, and I realize this is the kind of observation that would only occur to the mind of an eternal being: How did they afford that apartment? A waitress and a chef with those Manhattan real estate prices.”
Then, when talking about his relationship with Eleanor, Michael said, “Well, since we’re becoming friends, like Ross and Phoebe.” And a more recent reference to sending humans to the Good Place vs. the Bad Place: “Are you gonna sit there and say that every single Friend belongs in hell? I mean, maybe Ross and Rachel, and Monica and Joey, and definitely Chandler…but Phoebe?”
Well, it turns out Phoebe is in the Good Place. Sort of. Lisa Kudrow guest starred as the titular Patty in the penultimate episode of The Good Place, “Patty.” More specifically, Kudrow played Hypatia of Alexandria, a philosopher, one of the few who made their way to the Good Place. While experiencing ages of endless bless, her mind wasn’t what it used to be.
“When we designed the character we knew she had to be foggy-brained and carry that comedic tone, and Lisa was the only person that made sense for this,” series creator Mike Schur told Variety. “I used to work on The Comeback a million years ago, and I sent her an email and asked her if she could do it. She was vacationing with her family, ironically I think in Greece, and she was like, ‘This is a sign.’ So she came and did it and was delightful, as she always is.”
Kudrow’s appearance was well-guarded secret.
On Instagram, she thanked Schur.
“Look what I got to do!! Thanks for asking Mike Schur! You all made it a good place to be for a week,” she wrote.
The Good Place series finale airs Thursday, Jan. 30 on NBC.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)