TV Review: “The Good Place” Season 2 – The Great Show

Written by Matt Butler December 11, 2017

the good place

The Good Place is a sitcom set in the afterlife. It stars Kristen Bell as the newly deceased Eleanor Shellstrop, and Ted Danson as an all-knowing architect angel named Michael. In The Good Place, everything is tailor-made, custom-fit peaches and cream. An extraordinary eternity fit for those who led extraordinary lives. Only one problem: Eleanor isn’t Eleanor. She’s not really who they think she is. In fact, she’s not at all who they think she is. Eleanor doesn’t belong here.

I’ve always had a soft spot for stories that take the biggest ideas with the littlest seriousness. The Good Place tackles ideas of life, death, morality, ethics and the human condition, in a way that’s both aloof and razor sharp. It’s hard to explain exactly what way that is, but I think it boils down to putting theoretics to practice. The Good Place doesn’t bother with asking the big questions, it answers them head-on. There’s the question of how someone gets to The Good Place, and the explanation boils down to a numerical point system. You could gain a lot of points, for example, by performing a selfless act (which proves way trickier than it sounds). You could also lose points for a selfish act. It seems self-explanatory, but there are hundreds upon millions of ways to lose and gain points. One of my favourites is that you lose points for buying tickets to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. This little joke suggests that the rules of morality, in how the show interprets them, can at times be arbitrary. This is one of the show’s strengths: taking an intense concept and simplifying it until it’s ridiculous.

the good place

The Good Place starts out as a fun romp through an idyllic vision of heaven. It’s a casual, carefree, pastel-palleted paradise. It has a human Siri named Janet (D’Arcy Carden), ready to give you anything in the universe. Also, your soulmate lives next door. The setting is so over-the-top picturesque that it’s hilarious. In this vision of heaven, there’s a frozen yogurt shop on every corner, because there’s “something so human about taking something great, and ruining it a little, so you can have more of it”. Again, those little jabs leave a big impression. It’s a story that’s best judged by the sum of its parts.

“That’s bullshirt.”

But The Good Place isn’t just a ‘What If’ scenario. It’s also a clever character study. By the end of the first season, we understand the best and worst of every character (major and supporting). What makes it work is that it’s not just about proving people aren’t as good or as bad as they seem. It’s really about putting people in unique scenarios that work to expose their essential humanity and round them out. And even after the revelation in the Season 1 finale, we’re still learning new things about these people.

the good place

The bingeability of The Good Place comes from its neverending cavalcade of loose-ends. Every episode, even the season finale, ends with a new question. And what makes the wait till 2018 for Season 2’s continuation so unbearable is that, often, the answers are quite clever. The Good Place starts with an ambitious idea, and somehow it’s generated dozens more. Colour me excited for wherever it goes next.

My Rating: 9/10

the good place

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About Matt Butler

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is a strapping young English Major with a fiery passion for the art of cinematic storytelling. He likes long walks on the beach and knows the proper use of 'your' and 'you're'. (Example: I hope YOU'RE having a wonderful time browsing our site, and I hope you enjoy YOUR time reading my film reviews. I wrote them just for you.)

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