The Good Place is a television show that is difficult for me to convince other people to watch.
The description of its premise sounds absurd. Well. . . it is absurd, which is probably why it sounds that way. Unless you actually begin watching it and invest a little bit of yourself in the characters on the series, you can’t really grasp its appeal.
Listen to this: The Good Place is about a group of people who die and arrive at a nondenominational heaven, only to find out that—spoilers here—they’re not in heaven at all but in a nondenominational hell known as The Bad Place. This is the first season. In the second season, Michael, the cosmic entity responsible for torturing our main characters, hits the reset button and starts over. And over, and over, and over. Only each time, our heroes figure out that they’ve been duped. Michael, rather than continuing to torture these fine folks for eternity, becomes impressed by their ability to rebound and chooses to help them. This is the setup for Season 3.
I’ve watched all of the first three seasons of this series, and this description doesn’t make even me want to watch it. And, I think it’s one of the better television series that’s been on in recent years.
You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that this is a show you need to watch. It’s funny and smart and thought-provoking.
Ted Danson, as Michael, has been allowed to demonstrate his considerable acting chops to great effect. The rest of the cast bring their A-game as well. Kristen Bell is funny and groan-inducing as the self-described “Arizona trash bag” Eleanor. William Jackson Harper is terrific as the indecisive philosophy professor Chidi. Jameela Jamil nails her role as narcissistic socialite Tahani. Manny Jacinto disappears in his role of thick-headed Jacksonville Jaguar fan and erstwhile dance crew leader Jason. Add D’Arcy Carden as the cosmic AI known as Janet, sort of Siri on steroids, and you have the core cast around which all of the various story lines are woven.
We love these characters, which is why we’re willing to spend time with them during a plot that becomes increasingly absurd. But, not absurd for just absurdity’s sake, because the show never stops being smart and witty. The creative minds behind this series establish some funky cosmic rules of their universe but they seem to follow them once set.
During Season 3, the story begins to be about what it really takes to get to the Good Place, and our team discovers that no one is getting in because the system is rigged.
An underlying theme that developed during the second season and continues into the third, is that our group is stronger together than they are apart. Somehow, the social dynamics of their group are the key to their gaining entrance to the Good Place, for real this time.
With Michael and Janet now a part of that team, working for them rather than against them, the story begins to take off in new directions and into new locations—such as Australia.
This means, of course, that we have to look other places for our antagonists, a void readily filled by the likes of Bad Place denizens Shawn (Mark Evan Jackson) and Trevor (Adam Scott), who both manage to steal nearly every scene they’re in. The omnipotent Judge (Maya Rudolph), who likes to binge-watch television series, also serves in an antagonist role, even though she is neutral and impartial.
Although the larger themes and concepts of the series are fun and intriguing at times (I’m looking at you, Jeremy Bearimy), we are most invested in the relationships between our main characters. Season 3 capitalizes on that by playing with our emotions and teasing us with a deeper romantic relationship between Eleanor and Chidi. For reasons I won’t spoil completely, the series hits a different kind of reset button at the end of this season, setting us up for the fourth—and final—season.
Will Eleanor and Chidi discover the path to True Love one final, lasting time? Smart money says “yes,” but I’ll still keep watching to see how it happens.
If you’re not already watching this show, you should be. Start at the beginning, though. If you drop in during the third episode of Season 3, you’ll be lost. I guarantee it. This is a serialized situation comedy that’s telling a story which has grown organically since Season 1. The story will wrap up at the end up its current season, which is airing now as I write this (I’m saving the episodes on my DVR to watch later).
Firewater’s Heaven-Can-Wait-One-More-Season Report Card: A
A surreal, absurd ensemble situation comedy about the afterlife: what’s not to love?