I’ve had an unexpectedly busy fall which means I neglected my TV quite a bit, which sucks. But there were a few shows I wouldn’t let pile up on my DVR. Everything else will get the holiday binge treatment.
One of those shows I couldn’t put on my “to binge later” list is NBC’s The Good Place. Season 2 is mercilessly short (there are only five episodes left, after all). But the reasons to watch are plenty.
Ten Reasons I’m Grateful for The Good Place
10. The early Season 3 Renewal.Â Like I just stated, season two is cruelly short. The midseason finale aired on November 2 and when the show returns in early January, there are only five episodes left. Good thing we already know The Good Place will be back for a third season. Thanks for the early Christmas gift, NBC and congrats to everyone involved in creating this show!
9. Jason and Tahani. Jason and Tahani are a couple I never knew I needed in my life. They are so different from each other, yet ever since they got together, I’ve been rooting for them. I can’t help it. If they were still alive there’s no way this would work. There’s no way they’d ever come within two inches of each other. But in The Good Place or The Bad Place or whatever place this is, they totally fit.
8. Its unique premise. The Good Place isn’t like anything on broadcast TV, basic cable, premium cable or streaming. And we’re all the better for it. I often wonder how creator Mike Schur pitched this gem of a series. A selfish, self-involved girl dies and is accidentally sent to heaven, or what we think is heaven. It’s a place where she’s matched with a soul mate, she hides her secret, she eats lots of shrimp, and she tries to change her stripes. And in the process she starts learning about ethics from said soul mate. They actually try to break down the ethical complexities and theories that have been plaguing our universe since the dawn of man (or something like that). I wish I was a fly on the wall of the pitch meeting or however this show got the greenlight.
7. Everything that goes down in this colorful afterlife is cray cray. And I love every bit of it. Flying shrimp, unicorns, amazing food puns, froyo shops on every corner, a professor actually trying to teach ethics, an artificial being who holds all the knowledge in the universe. Janet doesn’t get sad but instinctively begs for her life when faced with impending reboots, she gets married one season and then subconsciously reacts to losing that connection the next season. Oh and you can’t curse which leads me to my next reason why this show is so forking awesome.
6. No cursing allowed. There’s no cursing in this afterlife and for someone like Eleanor, that’s pure torture. Instead we get fun substitutions like “forking” and “bullshirt.” I thought I was going to grow tired of this element but it never gets old.
5. Chidi and Eleanor = true soul mates. I am all about unlikely pairings and this is one of the unlikeliest I’ve ever seen on TV. Chidi has devoted his life to matters of an ethical nature and has proved that even in death he can’t make a decision to save his life.
Meanwhile, Eleanor was a terrible person when she was alive. She had no ethics. She treated people horribly and didn’t care about the effect she had on anyone. She had a troubled childhood, yes, but that doesn’t excuse how horrid a human she was.
In this afterlife, she’s trying to be better and Chidi’s doing his best to help awaken the morally ethical side of her that laid dormant since birth. It isn’t difficult to see they share a connection, however. Unfortunately, there’s a bigger obstacle other than their shared stubbornness and obvious personality flaws. Their memories reset with every reboot Michael inflicts on them trying to get his torture tactics just right.
Having said all that, footage exists of the two of them together. And that’s why I’m going to hang my hat on this ship now and forever more. There’s hope.
4. The supporting cast.Â The Good Place crew can’t be beat. They’re masters when it comes to delivering delicious dialogue. Let’s be real. The scenarios they are called on to bring to life are no joke. Yet they do so seamlessly and in such an entertaining way.
Many casts of today’s comedies and dramas seem filled with all-star actors from classic TV shows focus group’d together to ensure maximum ratings effect.
So even though two TV vets â€”Veronica Mars‘ Kristen Bell and Cheers superstar Ted Danson â€” lead the charge on The Good Place, it’s refreshing to be introduced to actors I wasn’t familiar with before this series started. I don’t know about any of you but along with Bell and Danson, I’ve fallen in love with William Jackson Harper (Chidi), Jameela Jamil (Tahani), Manny Jacinto (Jason/Jianyu) and D’Arcy Carden (Janet).
They’re talented, diverse and the writers and producers continually give each actor the chance to shine.
Harper brings humor and heartbreak to his role and he’s genius at giving good facial expressions. Keep an eye on him at all times and not just when he’s uttering his lines. He’s even better when reacting to his fellow actors.
Jamil has a way of making me feel for Tahani even when the character’s exhibiting some seriously selfish tendencies. I don’t know how she does it but because of her I pull for Tahani to have all the good things.
Jacinto plays â€” and I mean this in the kindest of ways â€” a harmless idiot but it doesn’t matter. Whether he’s masquerading as the monk who’s taken a vow of silence or the lovable dimwit DJ that never did anything of note while he was alive, Macinto made me take notice.
And, finally, Carden’s portrayal of Janet is surprising, mind-blowing, and genuinely awesome. I want her to stay on The Good Place as long as possible but I can see a future where a show is built around her. Sure Janet’s a sentient database that knows and can do everything. But she feels more than many of the beings she comes into contact with on a daily basis.
They are all the gift that keeps on giving.
3. Ted Danson. Ted Danson’s always been a wonderful actor but on this show he’s taken his skills to a whole new level of awesome. We originally perceived his Michael character as one of the good guys. And then learned he wasn’t who we thought he was. Danson handled that villainous transition brilliantly.
Futhermore, Danson’s had to navigate a character who finds himself on the business end of a mutiny. The bad place’s minions are frustrated with Michael’s brand of leadership and want their turn. Plus, he has a boss who will make life hell for him should his way fail epically (and it already has many times over).
Danson was great in season one. But in season two he’s Emmy worthy. I hope the Academy remembers that next year. If he’s not on the shortlist, it’ll be a travesty, which means I’m going to prepare a couple hashtags right now: #Emmy4Danson #Justice4Danson
2. Kristen Bell. That Kristen Bell. I loved her on Veronica Mars but I think I worship her choice to front a forking fantastic project like The Good Place even more. When I heard about this show I was a bit skeptical. To me, it’s a series you have to see to believe. On paper, it all comes off odd. But in execution, it works perfectly. And as Eleanor, Bell sells me on every single aspect of this crazy afterlife.
Eleanor’s a compelling character. I want to believe she can turn her life around. I want to believe she truly deserves the good things that are happening to her and I want the horrifying things to stop. And that’s truly a feat considering Human!Eleanor was such a tool. I don’t know how to explain it. I guess I don’t want to explain it. With Bell as the center of this insanity, everything feels right.
1. The Bad Place Twist. When I watched the season one finale, I was floored. What the show pulled off was jaw-dropping, really. We had just witnessed a season of Eleanor thinking she was mistakenly put in The Good Place. Same with Jianyu/Jason. There were so many ups and downs and roundabout moments and I thought I had the whole picture. But I didn’t. At all. Not even close.
Turns out Michael the well-meaning and kind architect of The Good Place isn’t a good guy at all (Or is he? I don’t think I will ever truly know). You see this was really The Bad Place and he was an architect of torture. He was trying to make the lives of Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani, hell. The amazing thing is that Eleanor figured it out and proved how clever and useful she really was.
In this spoiler-filled world, I didn’t see this twist coming. It almost brought tears to my eyes it was such a genius move. These moments don’t happen as frequently anymore. What Mike Schur and his crew did was unexpected, unpredictable and utterly thought-provoking. It stayed with me the entire summer hiatus. I wondered how the story could possibly continue in season two.
The good news here is that what’s gone down so far in the second season has lived up to the hype. There was a lot of pressure to back up this twist with a well-executed continuation and they’ve done that. Everyone behind the scenes and on camera deserves a fro yo of their choice for creating and producing this heaven-sent show.
The Good Place is a compelling series that wins at life and the afterlife. It returns Thursday, Jan. 4 at 8:30 / 7:30c on NBC.
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