The fantasy-comedy American show The Good Place has quickly become one of my favourite TV shows. Why? Well, as an audience we get thrown straight into the action. From the first few minutes of the show, we can already see that the protagonist (Eleanor Shellstrop) has died and is now in a heaven-like afterlife neighbourhood aka “The Good Place”. However, we soon see that she was very selfish on Earth and has to convince herself and others that she deserves to be there. Sounds like something you’d want to watch? I think so. This is already an interesting premise but what makes The Good Place stand out even more is that the whole show is a thought experiment of sorts. What would we, the viewers, do in Eleanor’s place? Would we help Eleanor try to become a better person like Chidi, a kind yet indecisive professor of moral philosophy and ethics?
what makes The Good Place different is that it has definite character growth
Other characters like Tahani, a charitable yet spoiled and resentful philanthropist, and Jason, a well-meaning but somewhat clueless DJ, help to fill out the supporting cast too. I found myself drawn to these four as the writers have obviously taken time to make them into complex if flawed characters. I’m sure you’ve seen multiple quizzes online “Which character from The Good Place are you?” and sometimes it’s hard to narrow the result down to just one character. I can really sympathise and understand the motivations of those in The Good Place as all of us are not just stock, cardboard cut-outs of people. We all have flaws as human but we have the potential to improve ourselves, just like in the show.
Each episode of The Good Place is, on average, 22 minutes long, the usual length of an American sitcom. Other shows in a similar format and length, like the popular Parks & Rec, also try to share moral lessons to us as an audience. However, what makes The Good Place different is that it has definite character growth, unlike other sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory. The latter show’s Sheldon Cooper doesn’t really change from one episode to the next. When watching The Good Place, I got to know the characters’ better through flashbacks and the show’s sub-plots and I genuinely wanted to see them succeed. For example, at one point when Eleanor sees things start to go wrong in the neighbourhood and thinks its due to her not belonging there, we see more of her view on life in a humorous way.
I think The Good Place works as a TV show in our current environment. Nowadays with Netflix at the forefront of TV entertainment and with binging episodes now a big thing, the show isn’t wrapped up by the end of each episode which makes us as viewers hungry for more. I myself was recommended The Good Place by a good friend a couple of months ago and almost couldn’t stop myself from binging episodes!
What’s even cooler about this show is the way it reinvents itself. Revelations in the story and character decisions are unexpected and that’s, in my opinion, what makes great TV. I can’t wait to see what Season 3 has in store but I can imagine that it will keep me on the edge of my seat!
The Good Place can be found on Netflix, with a new episode from Season 3 arriving every Thursday.