ET: Going into the second season, after pulling off a successful twist in the finale, how much pressure did you feel in regards to maintaining that level of surprise and expectation for viewers?
Mike Schur: Of course we feel some amount of pressure because we sort of established what the bar was for the show. We established a certain tone and a certain pace, and it wasn’t just the finale. To me, it was the whole season -- every episode, we tried to bake in a twist or a surprise ending. I wanted it to feel like an old-timey show. At one point, I told the writing staff I wanted them to be able to almost hear an old-timey announcer saying, “Tune in next week for the shocking conclusion!” At the end of the second episode, Eleanor got a note that said, “You don’t belong here.” At the end of the third episode, John Yu was revealed to be Jason, an idiot from Florida. The pressure that I felt wasn’t so much specifically from the finale, it was more from the sense of we have to maintain this pace otherwise the show is going to feel like it’s slowing down. That was the goal going in, to make the second season week-to-week as exciting as the first.
What was your directive for the second season, since the finale, in many respects, reset the show’s rules?
As they say, we hit the reset button. All of the characters’ memories were wiped clean and they were waking up just like they did in the pilot. That was fun and it made for a really exciting finale because it was like, Oh my gosh, what is happening?, but it instantly creates a narrative problem, which is that the audience is way ahead of the characters and any time the audience is ahead of the characters, it can get real boring real quick. Our goal was to solve the riddle of how to catch up very quickly and we figured out a way to solve that problem pretty quickly by the end of the third episode, and have the show go off in a new direction. We couldn’t do the same season again, with a slightly different storyline, it would be really boring and that wasn’t what the point of the show was supposed to be. That was the biggest challenge coming in and the staff did a really good job of solving that puzzle.