Looking back on the year, and on our recap podcast, I think I can now safely say that The Good Place was my very favorite thing. How can a show that started in 2016 be my favorite thing of 2018? Because it’s still on, that’s how! I expect things that are awesome to get canceled. It’s why I don’t get too attached to lipstick colors. The minute you fall in love it’ll be discontinued. I’m sure there is some dude equivalent that you guys can relate to. You can read the rest of my recap or listen to the podcast, but I had a lot of favorites to choose from. The Good Place is getting it’s very own thing now because it’s fantastic, and not enough people watch it. Season 3 just finished, and it’s been renewed for season 4. I’m concerned about the future of this show though. It may be a critical darling, but ratings aren’t great. So if you’re not watching then let me try and convince you to start.
I don’t watch a lot of network TV so I had no idea this show even existed until mid-2017. I vaguely remember Dave saying something about it being good, but I’ve got enough on my plate without trying to keep up with TV as well. I usually DVR an entire season of something and then just binge it all in a day or two when I have one of my infrequent “lazy days”. That means I’m not working, but my husband is. I just slob around the couch reading, watching crap, or playing video games all day. I love those days, but I don’t get many of them so I don’t feel bad about myself when it does happen. I was on a flight to San Francisco in the summer of 2017, and there weren’t a lot of great choices for viewing. But since it was all free I figured I should try and watch something I didn’t already own, and ended up watching The Good Place. I watched the entire flight there, and then again on the flight home. It was hilarious, and I loved it. I forgot about it shortly after though because I just assumed that something so good wouldn’t last on network TV. Amazingly, it survived. Last year I went to Las Vegas, and watched all of season 2 on flights as well. I suck at remembering to DVR series, and wasn’t reconnecting to Netflix for one show. I did finally look the show up, found that it was getting a third season, and set my DVR. I don’t know how this premise is still fresh at the end of the third season, but the twist at the end was enough to keep me looking forward to what comes next.
Eleanor Shellstrop is a bad person. She lies for a living, is mean to everyone, and is just generally a selfish jerk. So when she dies and wakes up in “the good place” she’s as surprised as anyone. Upon her death she meets Michael, who is the “architect” of her neighborhood. Because the afterlife isn’t quite as vast as some religions believe. It’s actually divided up into small neighborhoods of a few hundred blissful corpses, and everyone has their soulmate. Everything about the neighborhood is catered to the happy dead people there. Like frozen yogurt? Every shop will sell fro-yo. Enjoy clowns? Your house will be filled with paintings of them. Literally filled. As Eleanor gets settled in she slowly comes to realize that she might not belong. The things designed to make her happy are awful, and the neighborhood begins to fall into chaos around her. Eleanor comes to realize that she is accidentally in the wrong place, but who wants to go to the bad place? Even if your good place isn’t great, it’s got to be better than eternal torture. So Eleanor tries to make the best of it, but does come clean to her soulmate Chidi who just happens to be an ethics professor. When it comes to light that another resident (a genius/idiot loser named Jason Mendoza) was mistaken for a monk named Jianyu, Chidi comes up with a plan to try and teach them to be good enough to stay in the good place.
Since I know there are a lot of people out there who still haven’t seen it I won’t go any further, but there are some really good twists leading up to the end of the first season. Without giving out any spoilers there are a few things I can say:
- Kristen Bell is a goddamn national treasure! I loved Veronica Mars (okay, the first two seasons), and I’m glad to see her being funny and snarky again.
- Jason Mendoza is the best character on television right now. Possibly ever.
- Mindy St. Claire, as the only resident of “the neutral place”, is the second best character on TV right now.
- The best guest appearances ever. Jason Mantzoukas, Maya Rudolph, Adam Scott, Stephen Merchant, the frog guy…
- The twist at the end of season 3 is going to keep the show fresh for season 4.
- The pretend cursing is the best. Since you can’t cuss in the good place it’s “holy forking shirt” instead of what people would actually say. Best cursing without cursing since Battlestar Galactica.
- The relationships between the main characters can often be quite touching, but is then quickly made hilarious by something dumb Jason says.
I can’t say enough good things about The Good Place. That may even be enough to scare some people off. I have trouble with stuff that everyone in the entire world tells me is great. It often turns out to be not as great as they said. I promise you though: if you like well thought out humor, crazy twists, and even the occasional touching moment you’ll like The Good Place. Binge it on your next “lazy day” and you won’t regret it.