If you have been reading this blog or listening to any of our podcasts you know that I love talking about all things nerdy. Falling into a good video game or getting into the nitty-gritty of Star Wars lore always brings a smile to my face. That being said, those same things that used to always be fun and bright have lost some of their sheen. Lately it seems that there is some kind of funk hanging over the world. This is why when something can break through that cloud of negativity to bring joy and a much needed emotional boost it deserves as much attention as it can get. Which brings me to a show that has done just that: It’s called The Good Place and it’s everything I want from a comedy series, especially right now.
The Good Place, in a nutshell, is about Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) who arrives in the afterlife and quickly realizes that she doesn’t belong. Everyone else appears to be an amazing person who did amazing things and Eleanor is not one of them, but she resolves to become a better person and earn her place. The show is LITERALLY about being good! A concept that is endlessly refreshing right now. Using some light sci-fi concepts the show is able to embrace the joy of experiencing a facsimile of heaven or hell without isolating any one religion, and instead of focusing on the how or why of the concept, which could become cumbersome, it leans into the characters to drive the series in an ultra light-hearted way. Which is ultimately the strongest aspect of The Good Place.
From Kristen Bell, who has regretfully flown under my radar until now, to Ted Danson playing Michael, the architect/host of this particular piece of paradise, every actor is doing stellar work. The show is filled with well written characters that feel familiar and relatable but become increasingly more complex each episode. It’s truly a pleasure to watch them grow on screen while familiar guest appearances join them to spice things up.
Allowing characters to grow and change over time is something that I have always appreciated in comedies, and I’m happy to see more and more shows adopt that approach to characterization, but I shouldn’t be surprised to see it here. The Good Place is created by Michael Shur, a writer and producer who cut his teeth on Saturday Night Live and The Office, and went on to create another one of my favourite shows; Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Brooklyn Nine-Nine also leans heavily on its strength of characters to drive the comedy and it’s this core aspect that is likely why I connect so well with his work. It’s clear Michael Shur has a knack for creating likeable characters that you want to spend time with.
I have to come back to the joy of it all though. I can’t speak highly enough on how well The Good Place is able to capture the delight of living in a paradise by allowing itself to be straight-up silly at times. The writing is whimsical and fun with well crafted jokes and call backs making it a full on comedy in the truest sense. After shows like Rick and Morty or BoJack Horseman, which can get pretty dark, it’s nice to have a show that is all about having a good time. The Good Place also has a visual style that just exudes glee. It’s visibly brighter and more vibrant than most shows on TV right now and in almost every way it sets itself apart from other comedies simply by embracing a sense of pure delight.
That’s not to say it’s completely without fault. After a shocking twist at the end of season one I’m noticing that season two is having a hard time trying to find itself again. Right before the mid-season break things were starting to ramp back up, but the first couple episodes of this season were a little rough. It’s a minor gripe though as much of season one was almost perfect and it’s only normal for a show to go through some growing pains early in it’s life. Overall there’s not much to dislike here.
I’ve had such a good time binging through the first season and a half of The Good Place that I honestly had a hard time even describing what makes this show so great. Have you ever tried to explain why something makes you happy? There’s an intangibility to it. You just know that it does sometimes. So just take my word for it; The Good Place is a must watch.