The Good Place: Season 1 created by Michael Schur (Fremulon, 3 Arts Entertainment, Universal Television)
Starring Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden, and Manny Jacinto.
Since Lost, network television has left a simmering crater of paint-by-numbers drivel. I speak hyperbolically, but solid programming is few and far between on the networks. Even of the network shows we watch in my household, most have clear deficiencies stomached for the greater good of television consumption.
Sadly, the best and most promising network shows are not long for this world. The further away from the surreal mysteries of Lost, the more promising series die after fledgling glimpses of promise.
In fact, after too many burns, I’ve made a pact to stop watching network television until I absolutely must. For this reason, I’ve missed a few solid—so I hear—shows. Looking at you, Hannibal. But at least I don’t have to worry about early cancellations.
And yet despite myself, I gave The Good Place a shot. And it paid off mightily.
Check Out this Premise
As a sitcom, The Good Place offers the craziest premise. Get this:
Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) awakes to cheery words plastered on an egg-shell wall. “Everything’s fine!”
Greeted by the kind-hearted Michael (Ted Danson), Eleanor discovers her early demise. But luckily, she’s in the good place, a heaven stand-in where vibrant pastels and multiple frozen yogurt shops provide eternal bliss.
The good place accepts those people with the highest accrual of good deeds. In a complicated points system, every action on earth adds or subtracts from the ledger (points for Cleveland Browns fandom and negative points for being a Yankees fan).
If all of this feels too good to be true, it is. In fact, Eleanor isn’t the right Eleanor. While Michael outlines all the incredible deeds accomplished during her lifetime, Eleanor smiles, refusing to mention that she’s just a selfish, “medium-good” person—not the saint that provided food for orphans and sacrificed her life for the good of others.
When Michael introduces Eleanor to her soulmate, Chidi (William Jackson Harper)—every person has a soulmate in the good place to live in eternal bliss, Eleanor spills the beans.
Luckily, Chidi taught ethics on earth. An indecisive individual with a dissertation at 8,000 words and counting, Chidi commits to teaching ethics to Eleanor to help her fit into paradise, even if keep such a secret eats him up inside.
In a highly-serialized manner, The Good Place drops twist after twist and truly promotes a vision for how this hair-brained premise could last for years with comedic gusto.
All that’s left is NBC actually letting them. If you like your comedy sprinkled with a heavy dose of absurdity, go watch this show. Let’s keep it on air!
Verdict: 5 out of 5