'The Good Place' Review
The beginning of The Good Place reminds me of the times when I'm sitting in a doctor's or dentist's office reflecting on my life, and I guess we often have the most reflective thoughts in the mundane places. The series follows the protagonists Eleanor Shellstrop, Chidi Anagonye, Tahani Al-Jamil, and Jason Mendoza as they navigate through the 'Good Place,' although they quickly discover that they don't belong there. Along with the help of Janet—a programmed help and information system—and Michael—a Good Place architect in disguise—the main characters encounter a series of events where they come to recognize their faults during their time on both earth and the Good Place; As a result, the main characters attempt to compensate for their actions throughout the series.
To summarize in one sentence, The Good Place offers a new—and rather satirical—take on the concept of the afterlife, where it becomes not only a place for black and white judgements but also a place for second chances. The series emphasizes how sometimes it takes a force stronger than your willpower and determination to cause change within yourself—the faith that others have in your ability to change and grow.
The Good Place captures your attention not through a riveting plot or interesting premise, but through relatable and human characters that you grow to love and understand as the series continues. What you are experiencing while watching the series is not purely mindless entertainment, but you get to witness the process of the personal growth of the characters as they learn how to depend and rely on others, and learn from them—something that they could never do during their life on earth.
In terms of the concept of love that no doubt dominates much of the series, the characters find love in the most unlikely of places and in the most unlikely of people. Shared interests may not connect people, but it is their humanity that brings them together.
The series brings up questions concerning what is a 'good' person and 'bad' person, and whether a person can become 'good' even if they had previously partaken in 'bad' acts. With a strong emphasis on moral philosophy, the series throws the audience into dilemmas where they must consider their values and beliefs along with the characters. However, The Good Place offers an optimistic outlook on human nature which refutes arguments concerning innate selfishness that some people believe are within every human. It reinforces the idea that humans are capable of altruistic actions and can change.
Although the series offers an exaggeration of everyday stereotypes, the characters that exemplify these stereotypes are ones that the audience can still identify with. The situations that the characters encounter are often unrealistic and fantastical, but their internal conflicts present the audience with realism. Ultimately, the series emphasizes the glaringly real in the unreal, which helps the characters in their self-development and growth. Because of their increasing compassion for others, the characters achieve a newfound sense of empathy and desire to help someone other than themselves.
After watching the series, the viewers may contemplate on the actions and decisions of the main characters and compare it to the experiences of their own lives. One question that you might ask is what would you do if you had a second chance at life?