It was the viral video seen around the world — or rather, by millions of Ted Danson fans who stopped everything to witness their silver fox boogie down. With absolutely zero context provided for viewer clarity, not that it even mattered, last November, a camera caught Danson learning “the floss” while he was waiting to film a scene for The Good Place, with co-stars Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, and D’Arcy Carden helping him master the viral dance move. As we only got a short vignette, it was unclear at the time if the flossing extravaganza was just silly cast bonding or a tease of something to come. But as was revealed on Thursday night’s Good Place, good things come to those who wait … and maybe to those who play Fortnite.
After presenting his argument to the Eternal Judge (Maya Rudolph) about why the point system is fundamentally flawed and far too complicated for our modern world, only to receive a sniping comment in return — “That’s not a revelation, that’s a divorced woman’s throw pillow” — Michael, in a state of panic, decides to proceed with his arguments not in the style of Atticus Finch, but rather with the pizzazz of Backpack Kid. “Is it helping?” he asks, gyrating away like humanity isn’t hanging in a delicate balance at the crossroads of all dimensions. Look at our man go!
The Good Place’s writers have been itching to make Danson dance in an episode since day one, and as co-executive producer Joe Mande told Vulture, the meeting in the Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes provided the ideal setting to finally execute the idea. “We decided the saddest thing a desperate demon in a 70-year-old’s skin-suit could do in that scenario was to start flossing. So that’s what we went with,” he said. “Although it was weirdly important to me that Michael refer to it as ‘the Backpack Kid dance.’”
At the episode’s table read, Mande recalled, Danson said he didn’t know what flossing was, which immediately derailed the reading into something right out of a millennial’s version of Studio 54. “Ted read the line and it got a laugh, but he was clearly confused. So he stopped the read and politely asked, for his own edification, if he could see an example of this Backpack Kid dance,” Mande said. “A bunch of the actors got up and started flossing for him at the table. Ted then went back, reread the line, and quickly attempted to floss himself. It was wonderful.”
Ever better, Danson was so dedicated to achieving floss-virtuoso status that nary a day went by when he didn’t bust out the move in front of everyone.
“Ted is such a perfectionist that he was practicing his flossing technique for weeks leading up to the shoot. Pretty much any time you saw Ted between takes, he was getting a flossing tutorial from someone on set,” Mande added. “It wasn’t just Kristen, Manny [Jacinto], or Will helping him out, it was also the cameramen, set designers, production assistants — literally anyone who knew how to floss. And because he wanted to get each movement right in his head, he would often slow the dance way down to the point that it almost resembled tai chi. The man is an American treasure.”