The Good Place
The Good Place is a town where those who have been good throughout their lives go once they have passed away. Michael is the architect who oversees the town--and this is the first one he has been in charge of creating.
Eleanor arrives at the Good Place and realizes they have her name right, but everything else is wrong. She isn't meant to be there at all. With the help of Chidi, her soul mate, Eleanor tries to right her wrongs, seeking to finally earn her spot in the Good Place.
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This is officially my favorite comedy, and currently my favorite fantasy show, hands down. It is four seasons of absolute perfection.
It kicks off with Eleanor being told she's dead and now in the Good Place, basically Heaven, which she very quickly realizes is not where she's supposed to be. She spent her life as a human trashbag, stealing, lying, and cheating, all of which absolutely horrifies her soulmate Chidi. But she manages to convince him to teach her ethics, anyway, since he was an ethics professor in life and doesn't want to see her condemned to the Bad Place (Hell) if there's a chance of redemption.
What follows is a hilarious series of misadventures involving Eleanor and Chidi trying to dodge Michael (the Architect and all-powerful supernatural being in charge of everything), as well as the chaotic mess of the other major characters: Janet, Tahani, and Jason.
One of the greatest strengths of this show is its theme of morality. What--exactly--does it mean to be a good person? Eleanor isn't the only one who struggles with this, especially when later in the show the characters discover some major issues with the system of determining which souls go to which Place. Given the amount of scholarly debate surrounding ethics and morality in the real world, it's no surprise that the show plays around with several different issues, dedicating entire episodes to exploring major themes while progressing the plot. The general conclusion it comes to is that morality is subjective depending on the situation, and also comes from your connection with other people. All of the characters are horribly flawed and fall into bad behaviors when they're on their own. But when they're together they're an ethical, demon-fighting machine.
Another thing that caught my attention right away is the complete lack of toxic masculinity and abundance of women and characters of color. Though we never see her in a relationship with a woman, Eleanor is definitely bisexual. The show passes the Bechdel and Mako Mori tests for both women and characters of color. None of the leading male characters display the toxic traits seen in most other major male characters.
There are, in fact, only two characters who display toxic masculinity. One is a demon who helps run the Bad Place, and is 100% villain. The other is a soul we meet in season four who's destined for the Bad Place specifically because of his toxic masculinity traits. Namely sexism, racism, and self-centeredness.
The story itself is excellent. Even though all the characters start off dead, there's some real stakes involved. Namely, eternal damnation. All the subplots--even the romantic ones--are designed to further our understanding of the characters and/or contribute to the main story. And almost every episode ends on a cliffhanger. Which was bad for my health, because I lost quite a bit of sleep binge-watching this entire show in two weeks.
There is only one real criticism I have, and that's the frequent memory wipes. For one reason or another, several major characters lose their memories at the end of each season, which means they lose most of their character development as well. Story-wise, it makes sense. I won't get into the specifics because of spoilers, but this isn't the medically inaccurate soap opera amnesia. The memory wipes are built into the magic system and work well with the story. And when they happen, the story usually shifts gears to focus on the character(s) who don't lose their memories, allowing them to go through a new part of their narrative arc while the amnesiacs are brought up to speed.
But it can get a little tiring and frustrating to see the characters' progress suddenly get ripped to shreds, especially where Chidi and Eleanor are concerned. I'm not counting it as a spoiler: the soulmates have a romantic subplot and eventually get together. Several times. Because their memories keep getting erased. We'll see them get together, then someone snaps their fingers and they're strangers again. Get together, memory wipe. Get together, memory wipe. Get together, memory wipe...
Other than that...it's excellent. If anyone likes off-hand humor that dives into deep moral philosophy while telling an engaging story that will occasionally make you cry--especially in the season 3 and season 4 closers--then this is the show for you.
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The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!