The Good Place Series Review

Is This Where We Go When We Die?


The Good Place premiered on September 19, 2016, and ran for four seasons on NBC. It stars Ted Danson (Michael), Kristen Bell (Eleanor Shellstrop), William Jackson (Chidi Anagonye), Jameela Jamil(Tahani Al-Jamil), D'Arcy Carden (Janet), and Manny Jacinto (Jianyu/Jason Mendoza). The Good Place was created and directed by none other than Michael Schur, a juggernaut of comedic writing also writing for The Office, Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Saturday Night Live. The series was filmed at Universal Studios and the Huntington Library in California by filming companies Fremulon, 3 Arts Entertainment, and Universal Television. The Good Place was also nominated for 13 Emmys and 2 Golden Globes.

Eleanor and Chidi in the Good Place. Image Credit: Netflix

Plot

When good people die, they arrive in a small town called The Good Place. Michael (Danson) is the architect and oversees the town and its residents. Recently deceased Eleanor Shellstrop (Bell), arrives in The Good Place, but there has been a huge mix-up. They have her name right, but the life she lived to grant her entry into paradise has been mismatched. Leading her to realize, she is not supposed to be there. Eleanor finally meets her soulmate Chidi (Harper) and he reluctantly agrees to help her earn the right to reside in The Good Place by teaching her how to be a good person through ethics and morality lessons. She soon befriends Tahani (Al-Jamil) and her Buddhist monk soulmate, Jianyu (Jacinto).

The Good Place Crew. Image Credit: Netflix

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Analysis

When "The Good Place" starts, it is known that Eleanor (Bell) is dead. She takes this news pretty well, which may indicate an underlying problem within herself. She accepts the fact she is in the afterlife of what may be presumed "heaven". Knowing her true self gave her some sort of relief that she ended up in The Good Place and not the opposite. Eleanor's inner struggle, however, creates problems in The Good Place because she did not rightfully earn her place in paradise, and because of this, chaos soon rears its ugly head. Eleanor devises a plan to get her soulmate Chidi (Harper) to teach her how to be a good person, which he reluctantly accepts. This leads Eleanor to want to change for the better, not only for self-preservation but also because she truly wants to be a better person.

The Train to the Medium Place. Image Credit: Netflix

This realization didn't come from thin air. It was through her interactions with her newly found set of friends. Their interactions are genuine and the chemistry between the actors plays out perfectly. Eleanor and Chidi are a dynamic duo and it is clear that opposites do attract. While Eleanor is blunt, vulgar, crude, and has a somewhat sadistic outlook about life, Chidi is sensitive, polished, avoids any forms of conflict, and has tremendous anxiety when making a choice. They are complete opposites, but they learn so much from one another through the journey of self-discovery after death, which creates a positive tone for the series because it balances comedic relief, mystery, and authenticity.

Demon from the afterlife. Image Credit: Netflix

When first watching "The Good Place" the viewer has a clear understanding of the topic, which is when good people die they go to The Good Place. This also makes you wonder about the unanswered question," Where do you go when you die?". Death is a part of life. There are different beliefs pertaining to death. Some say it is the next step in the circle of life, others may think there is nothing after death, and some may say death is a process of recycling, like reincarnation.

Zoom calls in the afterlife. Image Credit: Netflix

Michael Schur created an unbiased take on life after death. Many different religions and beliefs are brought together in The Good Place. This may have been purposely done to help connect with different viewers from any belief system or religious background. He has taken a different approach when writing "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation" because they both are a bit risque, yet entertaining. You could argue Micheal Schur did this intentionally because he was trying to appeal to a niche audience with his last two shows, whereas " The Good Place" was written to appeal to everyone.


Opinion

In my opinion, " The Good Place" is an exceptional series to watch because not only has it been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards and 2 Golden Globes, it has won People’s Choice Award, Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actor, TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy, and Peabody Award.


Why on earth didn't they win an Emmy or Golden Globe? I honestly have no clue. Maybe this is the Bad Place. I believe Micheal Schur wrote and directed "The Good Place" to connect with different viewer perspectives, regardless of their backgrounds.


The chemistry between the characters was authentic and felt like looking at the raw inner workings of what morality truly entails. We don't think daily of what distinguishes a good person from a bad one. Yes, we have a generalization of the two, but we don't truly answer the question of human ethics. The Good Place however creates a sense of curiosity regarding human ethics. It made me think about some life choices I've made over the years. Granted, I enjoyed watching this series, but one aspect I did not like was that after a certain point in time during the series, the characters sort of plateaued. There was no more character development. In a series or movie, I like to see the growth of the characters because they usually go through some forked up stuff to get to where they needed to be in the storyline. Other than the lack of character development, "The Good Place" is an exceptional series to start watching.

Who got better?. Image Credit: Netflix

Conclusion

Michael Schur was quite successful in creating a version of what the afterlife might be. He kept his views subjective and open-minded. Micheal Schur's series has been made to question how you are living your own life. Are there things you could be doing better? Are there things you should not be doing? Maybe Schur's goal when writing " The Good Place" was to get the viewers to think about their actions and maybe the consequences of those actions by relating to the lead - Eleanor Shellstrop (Bell). All in all, the views of the director were captured through the interactions between the characters residing in The Good Place.


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©2020 by Yadav Venugopal.