The Good Place is an American sitcom with an unexpected depth. The basic idea is that Eleanor Shelstrop (played by Kristen Bell) wakes up after dying in a heaven-like utopia called The Good Place. She quickly realises that she has been mixed up with a human rights lawyer of the same name and doesn't deserve to be there. As you can imagine what follows is a journey of near misses that will keep you glued to the screen. The plot is skilfully woven with new revelations and a particularly clever twist at the end of the first season.
However, the characters are what kept me addicted to the show.
Chidi, Eleanor's supposed soul mate, is a well-intentioned Philosophy professor with crippling indecision. His application of various famous Philosophical ideas to the situations he finds himself in are mind-bending and educational in the most interesting way. Perhaps what I most like about him is the solidity of his integrity, something I find refreshing when self-centred characters with subjective morals are so common.
Eleanor somehow has a personality worth binge-watching. She's witty enough to be quote-worthy and her interactions with the others will have you rolling with laughter. She begins as a self-obsessed character but fights to stay in a good place with a stubborn persistence that will leave you cheering for her anyway. Gradually the connection she forms with the other characters changes her and the unlikely four friends navigate whatever is thrown at them.
The other two main characters are Tahini Al-Jamil and Jason Mendoza. I can't say much about Jason without spoiling it if you haven't seen the first few episodes. But trust me you'll love him in his own special way.
Tahini is a "sexy skyscraper" in the words of Eleanor (who is equally attractive) and there's certainly some queer baiting going on. Eleanor is clear about being attracted to her. (Three cheers for a show that normalises queer characters so much that no one mentions it). There's even a hint in one scene that Tahini could be Eleanor's soul mate (can't say more without spoiling it) which was almost certainly thrown in there so the fanfic world could go crazy. Appearance and attraction aside, Tahini is a character with her own quirks and insecurities. Her posh British accent and snobby ways often rubbing up hilariously against the others.
As well as being a light-hearted and relaxing show it deals with bigger questions. Should we all get rated as good or bad people based on what we do? What makes us good or bad? If we did loads of good things but with the wrong intentions do they count? Or if like Chidi we buy a blueberry muffin instead of a chocolate one not knowing that the migrant workers picking the blueberries are being mistreated are we guilty? Who would actually be counted as good if we do all get tallied up? Should there be an average place for the average person?
All these questions might not be your cup of tea but for me, it was certainly a delightful watch.
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