Death is something that I dread. It may be strange for someone who’s in their mid-twenties be thinking about but it’s something that both fascinates and frightens me at the same time. The spiritual part of me would like to think that, since I believe I’m a good person, I’ll be going to that place where everything is fine and nothing bad ever happens. I get to live with my soulmate and congregate with other good people like me.
Then I started watching The Good Place. Maybe my eternal reward may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. But that’s a good thing because The Good Place is great. In fact, it’s probably one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in my twenty-plus years of living on this planet. I actually binge watched the entire first two seasons over the weekend because I couldn’t stop watching, especially after that huge twist at the end of the first season!
But I’m getting ahead of myself… So before I talk too much about how great The Good Place is, I have to give out the obligatory SPOILER warning now. I mean, you really got to watch the show and I’m hoping you have because it’s really a fun show. Heck, go stop reading this and watch all of the episodes right now! Don’t worry. I’ll wait.
Doo-de-doo-tee-doo… All caught up? Good! On with the gushing!
The Good Place, at the start anyway, appears to be about Eleanor Shellstrop, played by the adorable Kristen Bell, who died and her soul is sent to The Good Place, which is akin to heaven. It’s not exactly heaven, mind you, because all major religions apparently only got around 5% of what the afterlife is like. Well, there was this one guy to got it mostly right…
Anyway, it turns out that Eleanor Shellstrop isn’t the goody-two-shoes everyone assumes she is. She was actually a terrible person while on Earth and it seems like the powers that be made a clerical error by bringing her to The Good Place. So the plot of the Good Place appears to be all about Eleanor trying not to get caught and get sent to The Bad Place.
But nothing is what it seems to be in The Good Place.
At the end of the first Season, after a whole lot of messy problems, Eleanor finally realizes that they aren’t really in The Good Place. Michael, played magnificently by Ted Danson, by the way, the architech of this so-called Good Place, is actually a demon that designed a Bad Place that would torture the residents mentally instead of physically. And this was brilliant because it wasn’t the demons that were doing the torturing. It was the other humans who would do the torturing for them!
When I first saw this episode and the twist was revealed, this blew my mind! I was already on board with The Good Place thanks to the brilliant premise of Eleanor trying to better herself to become worthy of being in The Good Place. The reveal that they’re all actually in The Bad Place just turned everything on its head!
I actually watched most of the episodes of the first season because I wanted to see how the show worked with this new knowledge and, wow! It kind of feels like The Bad Place when you know it is! Eleanor can’t be herself because she has to keep it a secret. Jason, another human who was sent to the fake Good Place “by mistake,” has to keep quiet most of the time since the person he was mistaken for was a monk who took a vow of silence. This is the exact opposite of the rather boisterous and dim-witted personality Jason is. You also have Chidi, Eleanor’s “soulmate,” who has to keep Eleanor and Jason’s secret, which is difficult for him as he’s an ethics professor and what he’s doing is essentially unethical. And we have Tahani, a stuck-up socialite who done a lot of charity work. It’s torture for her as well because, well, nobody really cares about her status in the fake Good Place!
But I already had another whole season to view, which I did the next day. Yes, I viewed the whole second season in something like three hours because I just had to see what was going to happen. The writers were smart enough to recognize that it wasn’t enough to rewind everything from the start and just have Eleanor and the other humans torture each other unconsciously again. The last episode of the Season One did make it seem like that’s what was going to happen. But, once again, they subverted expectations and the first couple of episodes showed a montage of Eleanor figuring out that they were actually in The Bad Place! I will be honest and say I’m generally curious what those “reboots” were like. I mean, what’s with the one with the monk robes? And I would definitely want to see the reboot when Tahani was Eleanor’s soulmate!
The Good Place’s unpredictability is one of my favorite aspects of the show. For the past two seasons, it practically threw out the what it was going to be about and, as a viewer, I really got curious with what they there going to do next and they did a whole bunch of things I didn’t expect!
After that bombshell regarding really being in The Bad Place the whole time, Michael kept on rebooting the fake Good Place and he eventually sided with the humans. The Season Two finale of sorts had Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason come back to life, so to speak. And even during Season Three, the current season, they pulled the rug from under me as I was expecting them to just do a lot of studies about ethics with Michael and Janet, the afterlife’s kind of supercomputer/android thing, watching over them from a distance, guiding them to do what’s right from the shadows.
But midway through the current season, the group learn about The Good Place and, since their motivations for doing good things have been tainted (they’re going to do good things because they want to go to The Good Place instead of, you know, it being the right thing to do), they’re doomed to be sent to The Bad Place no matter what! It’s then they go on a globetrotting adventure to set as many people on the right path! It’s very rare when a show can surprise me like The Good Place does on a regular basis but it’s a good kind of surprise.
One thing I have forgotten to mention is The Good Place is extremely funny. I mean, legit funny! It’s one of those shows where I have laughed out loud constantly and it’s all due to the characters. The Good Place has some of the most talented writers and actors I’ve seen and they all work together very well. The chemistry is perfect and the way everyone delivers their lines are distinct. The personalities of each characters are also well defined and, in a way, believable. Chidi means well but his indecisive nature does cause problems for everyone around him. Jason does bad things but that’s mostly because he’s impulsive and he doesn’t know any better. Tahani is a primadonna and self-centered but not necessarily evil. Eleanor is abrasive but that’s because life dealt her a bad hand. Okay, we have Michael and Janet, two supernatural beings but they’re still have fantastic personalities as well.
It may seem odd why I’m gushing over The Good Place now, especially since it’s already on Season Three. But there is a point to why I’m writing about it. Despite the show getting a lot of critical acclaim, there doesn’t seem to be much buzz about the show. That worries me since that would mean it’s not getting enough viewers. If that’s the case, there’s a good chance The Good Place may not make it to a Season Four. It doesn’t matter to the networks if a show is liked by mostly everyone who’s seen it nor if it’s one of the best television programs ever put on the boob tube. No viewers, no series. That’s just the nature of the beast.
I’m basically writing this in the hopes that, even just a few more people, will become curious as to why I’m seriously in love with The Good Place and that small percentage of people who actually go watch it fall in love with it as well and feel as passionate about it as I do right now.
After all, I did get you to watch it because of the SPOILER warning, didn’t I?
What do you think of The Good Place? Are there any other shows like The Good Place that you think I’ll like? Let me know in the comments section below!