The Good Place
Discussing and debating what happens after our time in this world has ended will result in a plethora of theories and pontificating statements. Many people standing on every side of every “official” religion (and those without an “official” one) have weighed in on their declarations for thousands of years. No one is absolutely correct. At least, no one can prove whether or not they are 100% correct. In the show “The Good Place,” that very issue is addressed in what I believe to be the most respectful and uproariously funny way possible. It plays out, I believe, not that different from how I would explain the afterlife to a child. Instead of an actual “heaven” or “hell,” the afterlife is organized into “The Good Place” and “The Bad Place” that is shown more to look like a gated community in Disney Land than angels and demons walking around.
The show begins with Eleanor Shellstrop sitting in the waiting room of an office. She is staring at a giant statement painted on the wall that reads, “Welcome! Everything is fine.” She is greeted by Michael, who serves as a sort of liaison helping people adjust into arriving into the afterlife and explaining how and why they have arrived in “The Good Place.” Michael also serves as the architect-or designer-of that particular “Good Place” that was tailor-made for Eleanor and all the others who reside there.
Everyone in “The Good Place” is also assigned a soul mate; a person that is supposedly their perfect spiritual match. For Eleanor, it’s Chidi Anagonye, an ethics professor who dedicated his life to teaching others how to always take the higher ground. “The Good Place” is meant to be the perfect paradise for all its residents. Only there’s one little problem… Eleanor is not supposed to be in “The Good Place.” Somehow a sort of ‘clerical error’ was made and Eleanor was sent to “The Good Place” instead of “The Bad Place.” Now Eleanor must try to keep Michael, Chidi, and the other residents from finding out while she tries to learn and earn her way into staying if Michael does find out.
Thrown into the mix are Tahani Al-Jamil, an event coordinator for non-profit charities; Jianyu, a silent Taiwanese monk; and Janet, a Siri-type assistant in “The Good Place” that Michael is constantly tweaking with to make her act more human with unfortunate but side-splitting results.
“The Good Place” is brilliantly written. Created by Michael Schur, you may not recognize the name, but he has also written for “Parks and Rec,” “SNL,” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” to name a few. He also played Moes, Dwight’s amish and silent cousin in “The Office.” I highly recommend this show to anyone who appreciates hilarious writing, clever storytelling, and intricate storylines for each main character that you will not see coming.
The first season of “The Good Place” is now on Netflix with season two having already begun and returning on NBC January 2018.