New Gay Icon: D'Arcy Carden Talks Janet, Sexual Fluidity, and Queer Eye

D'Arcy Carden

One of the greatest shows in this golden era of television is The Good Place. Full of laughs and cleverly written twists, it's a must-see for any pop culture junkie. And one of the show's greatest breakouts is D'Arcy Carden.

Having come up in the Upright Citizens Brigade, she's appeared in shows like Inside Amy SchumerBroad City, and most recently, HBO's Barry. But she remains close to her roots, performing improv every Sunday.

"These are shows that I would watch," she says. "To me, these are the funniest shows on TV. And it’s insane, and I feel so incredibly lucky that I get to be a part of them. As an actor, I just want to work. I would have been happy in many places. But this is sort of the ultimate happy because it’s something that I’m such a fan of."

In The Good Place, she's been known to steal a scene or two as Janet. An insentient being, she serves as an afterlife virtual assistant, like if Alexa came in human form. With the purpose of serving others, she possesses a consistently positive disposition with a unique robotic sense of humor.

"I like that she’s pure good basically," she says. "She’s there to help, and she means well. It’s fun to play somebody that positive. We all have that side of our personality but to have somebody that’s pure positivity is fun."

Since Janet isn't an actual being, her gender has remained ambiguous. In one scene, she's referred to as "the smartest girl in the world," to which she happily responds, "I'm not a girl." It's a quote that's stuck with queer fans.

"There were some more personal tweets of something along the lines of, 'This gave me the courage to sort of speak my truth,'” she recalls. "To say 'I’m not a girl' or 'I’m not a boy,' whatever it is, to just straight up say it. I didn’t write it, so I can’t take credit. But it’s so awesome to be a part of a show that’s fun and silly, but can also mean something that big to someone. You can’t even hope for that when you get into acting."

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Her character has shared a few flirtatious scenes with Kristen Bell's Eleanor, whose sexual fluidity has been casually explored throughout the series. And as Janet begins to evolve and discover human emotions, Carden is interested in the idea of her character exploring that sexuality as well.

"I don’t think there’s any program within her that says, ‘You’re into dudes,’" she says. "I think it would definitely be a human-by-human or being-by-being basis. I think she’s sort of locked into Jason (Manny Jacinto), but who the hell knows what the future brings? We’ve done takes that haven’t even gotten to air. Kristen’s character, Eleanor is so flirty, and there have been plenty of takes where there has been so much flirtation between us. I love the fact that Eleanor is who she is, she hasn’t had to claim anything."

Although she's not fully aware of her blossoming gay following, she considers her gay friends to be among the show's fanbase. One such friend is Jonathan Van Ness. In fact, their mothers are fans of each other's shows.

"My family watches Queer Eye together," she says. "A couple months ago, it was like a weekend when the whole family was together, and we could have had a nice outing, gone to the beach, or gone to dinner. But we just kept watching episode after episode. That’s a good weekend."

With season three of The Good Place underway, Carden ensures there are plenty of twists in store. Gay fans are sure to enjoy her human evolution as Janet.

Watch D'Arcy Carden in The Good Place, Thursdays at 8:30pm on NBC.

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