The Good Place is a new comedy tv series on NBC which follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) as she navigates the afterlife and gets a hard look at who she was on Earth. WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.
I want to start off by saying I love this show. I think it mixes the right amount of comedy, drama, real world emotions, and heartfelt moments to hit home.
Eleanor Shellstrop finds herself in the afterlife after she was killed by a truck. She discovers that she’s in the good place, what Christians would call heaven. It’s different communities filled with people she is most compatible with, living eternity in happiness.
The architect of the good place, Michael (Ted Danson), introduces her to other people in her community, nonviolent revolutionary heroes, people who helped starving children in third world countries, and amazing people who changed the course of history for the better. And he goes over Eleanor’s life – her life as a lawyer who helped innocent people get off death row.
And Eleanor realizes that there has been a huge mistake. She’s actually a “dirtbag from Arizona” (her words, not mine) whose job was to sell fake medicine to dying old people.
In the good place, everyone is matched up with a soulmate, and her’s is Chidi, an ethics professor. How perfect! She confesses that there was a huge mistake to him and convinces him to help her become a better person so she can earn her spot in the good place.
The show also follows Tahani (Jameela Jamil) a socialite who seems absolutely perfect in every way and her soulmate Jianyu Li (Manny Jacinto) who is a silent monk (or so we think).
After a season of the four of them running around and dealing with their own insecurities, it’s revealed that they’re all actually in the bad place and are being tortured.
All four of them were terrible people on Earth. Eleanor’s faults are pretty self-explanatory. Jianyu Li is actually Jason Mendoza. An amateur dj from Florida that suffocated in a safe while his friend Pillboi tried to use the safe as an excuse to rob a restaurant.
Chidi was an ethics professor who was plagued by indecision and over analyzing every little decision he made. He tortured other people because he could never make a decision. And Tahani was a socialite who constantly feuded with her more talented sister.
The idea behind the good place is that you have to do good things purely because you’re good, not for any ulterior motive. Tahani raised hundreds of millions of dollars for various charities. But she did it to be better than her sister and for fame, not because she cared about the charities she raised money for.
Before Michael, the bad place tortured humans in the way we think of hell, physical brutal torture. But Michael had the idea to psychologically torture people for years and years, which is genius because studies show psychological torture can be even more painful than straight up physical torture.
I love this show because it breaks so many stereotypes.
When Tahani and Eleanor both confess their love for Chidi (a torture trick by Michael because now Chidi has to make a decision which is torture for him), their first instict is to fight with each other for Chidi’s love. But they stop and say that they’re not going to break their friendship over a man.
They so effectively crush the stereotype that women are catty and can’t be friends, I was applauding during the scene. It made me happy to see that these women were able to rationally work through their feelings and maintain their friendship.
This show showed their audience that people and even demons are capable of change if they want it enough. And if you have a good group of friends, you can accomplish the impossible.
The Good Place does a wonderful job of showing that even when people try their best to be good people, it’s impossible to make ethical, positive choices without any negative consequences. Being a good person now is much harder than being a good person in the past.
This show does a great job of including racial diversity as well. It makes me so happy to see brown girls represented in such a positive light with Jameela Jamil. Yes, Tahani has flaws, but she actively works to better herself and the person she becomes is a much better version of herself.
Like everyone on this show, it shows that humans are resilient and become better people over and over and over again. I can’t wait to see what happens next.