Why Aren’t You Watching The Good Place?

Really?!? Why aren’t you watching The Good Place?

Launched in Fall 2016, the latest outing from creator Michael Schur (Parks & Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) features Kristen Bell, as charming as ever, in the lead role supported by an equally charming supporting cast including Ted Danson, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, and D’arcy Carden. It seemed to get lost in the vast sea of TV excellence — but trust me — this one is worth your time.

It’s a meditation on what it means to be good in bubble gum wrapping. It’s light but not empty, introspective and fun. It is absolutely 100% charming with enough of an edge to ward off a toothache.

When Bell’s Eleanor dies, she finds herself in “The Good Place,” much to her surprise. It doesn’t take long to figure out there’s been a cosmic mix-up resulting in Eleanor’s admittance to this highly exclusive neighbourhood. “The Good Place” is meant to be a perfectly calibrated piece of paradise, of which Ted Danson’s Michael is the architect. Each person is matched up with their soul mate and treated to any kind of delight, especially and including unlimited frozen yogurt.

Eleanor’s presence throws the whole ecosystem off balance and she scrambles to figure out how to fit in, saving herself from the threat of discovery (and The Bad Place) while also protecting her new friends and neighbours in The Good Place. Meanwhile, Michael enlists the help of neighbours, and eventually Eleanor herself, to figure out where he went wrong in his first outing as architect.

Somehow, The Good Place pulls off a seemingly impossible balancing act. It’s sincere but not overly earnest, funny but not mean. I think this is mostly accomplished with the kindness and generosity extended to all of its characters: nurturing antagonistic and difficult relationships; providing multi-dimensional motivations and points of view; allowing complexity and conflict to shine through each character’s individual spectrum. Actions and choices are evaluated as good and bad — rather than the characters themselves.

Eleanor and her neighbours are forced to confront the choices they made in their lives before arriving in The Good Place — how those choices (or lack thereof) shaped their lives, and how it’s shaping their afterlife. It forces them to make tough decisions and deal with the immediate fallout often to both comedic and emotional effect.

The Good Place is relentless (and not the least bit punishing) and that’s why I love it. It barrels forward at a pace that keeps you on the edge of your seat wishing there was a “play next” button at the end of each episode.

The Good Place just returned to NBC and Global from a midseason hiatus with another gem, “Chidi’s Choice.” Since there’s only nine half-hour episodes in the first half of the season to catch up on, I can’t recommend this binge enough.

Photo Courtesy of NBC

About Sara

Sara is determined to break the space-time continuum to allow for more hours in the week to watch all the TV. Her entry into TV geekdom came with Firefly, Battlestar Galactica and Eccleston's Doctor Who, and has continued to spiral since. You can also read her TV musings at The Viewing Party and follow her on Twitter @janie_jones.