Everyone has their own belief on what they afterlife is like. Some people believe their soul is reincarnated based on how you treated others. Other believe that the soul will be transported to heaven, provided you put your faith in a specific deity. Still others believe that there isn’t a thing called the afterlife and your very essense is poofed out of existence the instant you perish.
According to The Good Place, they’re only around 5 to 10 percent correct…
Now, to avoid being sent to The Bad Place myself, I will be writing this review in a SPOILER FREE fashion.
The Good Place focuses on Eleanor Shellstrop, a woman who had just died (after being run over by a tractor trailer hauling erectile dysfunctional pills) and is transported into a utopia-like neighborhood. She is informed by the architect of the neighborhood, Michael, that she has been brought to The Good Place because of all of her humanitarian acts while on Earth. However, Eleanor knows that this is a mistake as she is actually a selfish, scheming, boorish and self-centered person. She confesses to her “soulmate,” Chidi, who just so happens to be an ethics profession while on earth. Chidi then tries to teach Eleanor how to actually be a good person worthy of staying in The Good Place.
There’s a lot to like about The Good Place. The unique setup is already vastly unique from anything else on TV, making it already an intriguing watch. But there’s more to The Good Place than the totally out there premise. The show is almost perfect in every way. Everything, from the acting of the main cast, to the sets, to the scripts and even the continuing story, makes The Good Place stand out from its contemporaries.
The sets of The Good Place are actually awe-inspiring in a sense. NBC seems to have put a lot of work into making the neighborhood like a character itself as it’s like it has its own personality. There is a certain vibrance to the place, which can be a little sickeningly sweet at times and definitely lacking any grit but, hey! What did you expect from a place called The Good Place? I can’t really fault it for being as advertised.
The Good Place is also incredibly well acted, with each person giving a rather cartoony portrayal but is well suited for the whimsical/dark humor tone of the show. Kristen Bell does a fantastic job of being the self-centered and uncaring Eleanor who does attempt to get redemption. William Jackson Harper is great as the stiff and indecisive Chidi, who gets roped into Eleanor’s plan of being a worthy member of The Good Place. The supporting cast of Jameela Jamil and Manny Jacinto, who play Tahani, a wealthy socialite who has a passion for fashion and charity events, and Jianyu, a monk who has taken a vow of silence and hides a deep secret, respectively, also pull off some really great and hilarious performances as their various neurosis work well in making them cartoony but fleshed out people.
The standouts, however, are not the “deceased” residents. Rather, it is the people who keep The Good Place spic and span that really give the best laughs. D’Arcy Carden takes on the role of Janet, a sort of program that is there to provide the people of the Good Place anything they want, is a delight to see as she gives the “character” an innocence and naivety that’s pretty funny. But the best character is Michael, played by Ted Danson, the architech of this specific neighborhood. As he isn’t human, he’s not used to actually interacting with other “real” people. Ted Danson gives a really great performance of acting all awkward yet trying to be a personal as possible.
While the individual performances are great, it’s the way each and every character interacts with each other that makes The Good Place more than just “good.” There is a chemistry between the cast that just works and they way that they bounce lines against each other and react just perfectly with the right timing to make each and every funny line even more funny makes The Good Place great. And you know a show is funny when it can deliver laughs without telling the viewer when to laugh as it doesn’t rely on a laugh track or a live studio audience. The laughs just come out naturally because of how well the show is written and how funny the characters are.
The story is told very differently from other sitcoms that have come before it. Instead of telling one self-contained story where everything is resolved at the end of each episode, The Good Place is told in a serialized format, where events from an earlier episodes may have consequences in future ones. Each episode also always ends in a cliffhanger, making succeeding episodes a much watch. The format works incredibly well. I’m guessing they borrowed the format from Netflix as making each episode end during the middle of the story makes The Good Place much more suited for binge watching. Waiting for the next episode to come each and every week can be agonizing if you’re as impatient as I am.
Additionally, the way everything ties together makes The Good Place a really strong show. You actually get to see some character growth as well as a few twists here and there. The show will sometimes reveal something about a character you didn’t before and these reveals work really well in getting you hooked on what can possibly happen next. Heck, the season finale had one of the biggest and best twists I’ve seen in a long time!
NBC’s The Good Place is a breakout smash hit and deservedly so. It’s one of the best things on television as of right now and a must watch if you are a fan of good television… or television in general. If you can, get the entire first season and binge watch it. Then again, you’re going to do it anyway because the show is that good.
Hopefully, we’ll get to visit this supposedly utopian neighborhood called The Good Place real soon!
Have you seen The Good Place? What do you think of the show? Let me know in the comments section below!