‘The Good Place’ Has Answered Our Prayers for Great TV

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Published December 11, 2019
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The Montclarion

If you don’t watch “The Good Place,” you’re definitely going to the bad place. The series that tackles the question of quantifying morality is in its final season, and the stakes are higher than ever.

This story started out in what was supposed to be a waiting room in heaven. Michael, played by Ted Danson, explained that the afterlife uses a scoring system to determine where to place souls. Good choices in life earn points and bad choices take them away.

Michael said he was the architect of the neighborhood responsible for keeping its residents happy, but we soon find out that’s not exactly the truth. As tension builds throughout the first season there are several revelations about what is really happening, and where intentions truly lie.

Eleanor Shellstrop, played by the irresistibly lovable Kristen Bell, is not supposed to be in the good place. She is a crass narcissist hell-bent on doing what she wants, despite the consequences. Although she knows there has been a mistake, she lies to save herself from the bad place.

She confesses this to her “soulmate” Chidi Anagonye, played by William Jackson Harper, a nervous philosophy professor who is paralyzed by indecision. Against all odds, Chidi agrees to teach Eleanor philosophy, hoping to show her what it means to be a good person.

Tahani Al-Jamil, played by Jameela Jamil, and Jason Mendoza, played by Manny Jacinto, round out the cast of misfits and become an integral part of Eleanor’s recovery. Together, the four tackle big questions about their lives and challenge each other to be better for the sake of the collective.

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Chidi makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends.
Photo courtesy of Colleen Hayes/NBC

In season one, we learned about the meaning of good and evil, and how our choices effect our perceived value. But with each new episode, those definitions have become complicated and cloudy, and have sent our heroes on a journey of self-discovery.

Since the beginning, our flawed protagonists have been in search for answers and it seems like they might be close to finding them. The fall finale of season four, titled “The Answer” aired on Nov. 21 and left us with an emotionally charged, yet ambiguous, ending.

There are five more episodes coming in the new year starting on Jan. 9 and ending with a two-part conclusion on Jan. 30. After that, we’ll sadly have to tackle the questions of the universe on our own.

So far, this season has been packed with action. We’ve seen characters fall in love, have their memories erased (again) and plan their own funerals. After 300 years and thousands of timelines, everyone has adopted a new outlook on life.

Eleanor has come a long way from the selfish troublemaker we saw in season one. She’s now the pseudo-architect of the reimagined “good place,” and she’s working hard to help others become the best version of themselves.

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Eleanor, Jason and Tahani plan the funerals they wish they had during season four.
Photo courtesy of Colleen Hayes/NBC

Although she encounters some obstacles along the way, especially a few bad place imposters in disguise, her quick thinking always seems to save the day. At the beginning of season four she also had to sacrifice the relationship that has been keeping her on track, something old Eleanor wouldn’t be capable of.

Chidi has transformed from the resident “nutty” professor who couldn’t make his own decisions, to a strong-willed leader who sacrifices everything to save his friends. His trajectory has been one of the most impressive character arcs I’ve had the pleasure of watching.

Janet, played by D’Arcy Carden, is one of the funniest characters throughout the show. Self-described as “not a robot” but also “not a girl,” she is a lifelike encyclopedia of the universe. Although it seems like she has all the answers, she’s tested on her humanity and has to learn what it means to be a “person.”

Whatever happens in the last few episodes, I’m hoping the show continues to offer its usual brand of hopeful but cautious optimism. We’ve been shown that nothing is perfect, but for once I hope the group can find their own version of a happy ending. I’m truly rooting for these characters like I’ve never rooted before.

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Eleanor is comforted by her friends during the emotional season four premiere titled “A Girl From Arizona.”
Photo courtesy of Colleen Hayes/NBC

“The Good Place” is a human show about what it means to be an imperfect person with a finite amount of time to do better. Despite the show’s heavy subject matter, it maintains levity through its playful sense of humor in the face of total damnation.

The comedic packaging may fool you, but this show is so meaningful beneath the surface.

“The Good Place” will make you laugh and cry, occasionally at the same time, and you might learn something about yourself along the way too. As Michael has said, “What matters isn’t if people are good or bad. What matters is if they’re trying to be better today than they were yesterday.”

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