Michael's Neighborhood Improvement Experiment, the third in a series of experiments conducted by Michael, is a recreation of Neighborhood 12358W in The Medium Place. It was proposed by Chidi in Chapter 38 as a means to tell whether or not humans could improve in the afterlife without all the complexities of modern civilization.
Prior Experiments Edit
Michael had attempted to create a Bad Place Neighborhood wherein the humans would torture each other. The residents of that Neighborhood, Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani, improved repeatedly in the 802 iterations of that experiment.
Michael, believing that the Afterlife was flawed in that it did not allow humans to improve, proposed to Gen that a second experiment be conducted: the humans' deaths would be reversed and they would be placed on Earth to see if they could improve. The results of that experiment were inconclusive, although they pointed towards failure.
Basis of Experiment Edit
Michael stole The Book of Dougs (a book with information on all Dougs who have ever existed) from the Accounting Department, and realized that the complexity and interconnectedness of modern human life was inhibiting humans from achieving good point totals. He realized that the reason the humans were able to improve in his Neighborhood was that the Neighborhood was devoid of the complexities of modern life.
Proposal of Experiment Edit
The Meeting Edit
Michael arranged for a meeting with the Judge at IHOP to plead his case. They arrived at IHOP, where Michael presented his revelations to the Judge, who was not impressed. Jason then inspired Michael to suggest to the Judge that she visit Earth to see for herself how complex it was. She did, and when she returned she realized how modern life had made being a good person all the more complex. She summoned Shawn to represent The Bad Place, and Shawn argued that Michael's experiment had been a fluke.
Amid the debate, Chidi came up with a revelation about how to improve the Afterlife, and fell through a Pancake, wherein he saw the Time-Knife–he suggested that they use data collection methods to create a new Neighborhood with four new human residents and track their point totals to see if they improve. Shawn, Gen, and Michael agreed, and Eleanor suggested that the experiment take place in The Medium Place.
Gen laid out five conditions for the new Neighborhood. Michael and Shawn each had objections, so Gen assumed that it was fair.
- "MICHAEL WILL DESIGN THE NEIGHBORHOOD." The first guideline made clear that Shawn could have no part in the design process of the Neighborhood, as he would only hinder the human progress. Rather, Michael would set it up in a similar manner to how he created his Neighborhood (and ended up creating an almost identical version).
- "BAD PLACE WILL CHOOSE THE SUBJECTS (SIMILAR LEVEL OF BADNESS)." The second guideline allowed the Bad Place to select the four humans that would be placed in the experiment, so that Michael could not choose humans who were already good people. However, The Bad Place had to choose people with similar point totals to the original four humans, rather than "serial killers, dictators, [any]one who managed a boy band".
- "NO REBOOTS." The third guideline prohibited Michael from rebooting the Neighborhood whenever there was a flaw. Michael was also prohibited from rebooting the Neighborhood the first time, but he did not listen. This time, as the goal is to have them improve, Michael altering the Neighborhood would be tampering with the results of the experiment. This would not be fair to The Bad Place, and so is forbidden.
- "MICHAEL GETS 5 MINUTES OF PREP TIME FOR EACH NEW SUBJECT." The fourth guideline posited that Michael would have no prior knowledge of any of the residents for any of the Neighborhoods. The files would be sent to him along with the resident, and Michael could adjust the scenario–whether or not that human would believe they were in The Good Place or not. He could also learn the basics about the human to be able to welcome them to the Neighborhood.
- "NEIGHBORHOOD CAN BE ADJUSTED." The fifth guideline allowed Michael to change the Neighborhood in any way he saw fit, both before and during the experiment. Since the humans would awaken five minutes after Michael would receive the files, Michael would have five minutes to change the Neighborhood in any way before each new subject would awaken. This means that Michael would only have the barest minimum of time to ensure that the human subjects could improve.
Timeline of Experiment Edit
Before Experiment Edit
Setup of Experimental Basis (Subjects Not Present) Edit
In Chapter 38, the Neighborhood was created by Janet and Michael in The Medium Place. The other nonhuman residents were created by Janet and Derek. The Bad Place sent the file of Subject One (John) to Michael. John woke up, but Michael began to panic after being overwhelmed by the implications of his failure, so Eleanor assumed the role of "Architect."
Setup of Experimental Subjects (Subjects Awake) Edit
In Chapter 39, Eleanor, posing as the Architect, welcomed John to the Neighborhood, whereupon Tahani realized that The Bad Place had sent humans tailored to each individual human so that they would fail to be able to improve them (John having been a gossip columnist who published articles about Tahani). The Bad Place sent the next file, and it was Simone.
The humans, Michael and Janet called Shawn and the Judge, who ruled that it was not against the rules, but that Michael could erase Simone's memories of ever meeting the four humans. Chidi, unable to cope with helping Simone and not slipping up while dating Eleanor, suggested that his memories be erased as well. They are, and Eleanor welcomes him into the Neighborhood.
In Chapter 40, Eleanor welcomed Chidi, Brent and Linda into the Neighborhood. Simone became convinced that the entire Neighborhood was a hallucination concocted by her dying brain. After Eleanor and Michael attempted to get Linda to open up on Flying Day, she revealed herself to be Chris Baker, and Gen ruled that, as punishment, Chidi would be the fourth subject. The Bad Place sent a train to pick up Chris.
During Active Experiment Edit
In Chapter 41, to make Brent realize he didn't belong in The Good Place, Eleanor created a talkshow called That Was Your Life where other residents shared about their lives and attempted to create a chaos sequence, which only caused Brent to believe that he belonged in the imaginary Best Place. Eleanor and Michael later told Brent that there was a Best Place for an elite selection of the most morally upstanding residents, in the hopes that Brent would begin doing good out of habit. Eleanor told Chidi that he and Simone were soulmates, so Chidi explained to Simone the concept of solipsism, and that it leads to one "generally acting like a jerk", persuading Simone to stop acting like nothing is real.
In Chapter 42, Eleanor realized that Chidi was relaxed and unable to help the other residents, some of whom are participating in his new ethical study group (including Brent, who repeatedly made comments about going to Princeton and then left), because he wasn't burdened. To remedy this, she introduced Jason to him and had Jason confess to not belonging there, and creating a sequence of tortures for Chidi. After Chidi tells Eleanor and Michael that he feels as though he's being "punished", Eleanor realizes she's been going too hard on him because she was mad at him for erasing his memory. Chidi eventually resolves to help Jason. Meanwhile, Tahani realizes that John felt left out of the celebrity lifestyle and attempted to welcome into it, but after that proved unsuccessful, told John about how she once went into a party VIP lounge with nobody in there just to prove that she was high-status enough to be there, and John apologizes for how his articles hurt her. Tahani later explains that while he won't join the study group, they will be unironically watching Britney Spears' movie "Lifetime".