Review: The Good Place – An Excellent Show

The Good Place

The Good Place is a show I recently binged my way through. This is my second time attempting to watch the show. The first time through, I watched the first two episodes and gave up on it. This time, I was grabbed immediately and binged through all the way to being caught up in a couple of days. It has easily become one of my favorite shows.

Kristen Bell does a great job as the series lead. She exudes that charming, upbeat, good but relatably imperfect charm that only Kristen Bell can. In a lot of ways, it’s the perfect role for her. Ted Danson as Michael is similarly well-cast.

But what really grabbed me about this show is the actual content and plot of it, and the way it interweaves philosophical quotes and concepts into the show. It reminds me of Rick and Morty in a lot of ways. Just as Rick and Morty is a nihilistic show, I would argue this one is as well, for a slightly different reason. It embraces religion as a sort of malleable fiction whose purpose is really to pose philosophical dilemmas with the purpose of improving the overall goodness and efficiency of goodness in people. This is a concept that’s argued in Digital Nihilism, and it’s basically what the show’s all about.

I found the characters to be very relatable, especially Eleanor, in her selfishness (perfectly explained as failing to get past the “me vs. us” stage of behavioral development due to her parents’ divorce), and Chidi, whose fear of making a wrong choice gives him severe analysis paralysis.

The remaining characters also touched on a lot of relatable faults in modern times, all with an optimistic tone. It’s weird to say, but The Good Place actually made me feel like I wanted to engage in self-improvement and actually felt like it gave somewhat actionable suggestions for how to do that, which is a very rare feeling to get from a TV show.

My two favorite movies growing up were Fight Club and Amelie. Recently, I watched End of the F***ing World, which I loved, and is definitely in the nihilistic vein of Fight Club — bleak and critical, but personal. The Good Place would be the corollary for Amelie: a romantic post-nihilistic (“optimistic nihilistic”) view of the universe as a playground where meaning if found within ourselves.

I love the inclusion of philosophy, I enjoy the non-denominational portrayal of the afterlife, I like the plots and characters, and more than that I really enjoy the ongoing love story between Eleanor and Chidi. I’m a sucker for that ‘true love, finding each other again against all odds’ romance storyline, must like Eternal Sunshine and Princess Bride.

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