Review: The Good Place

The Good Place, season one (2016) and two (2018) streaming now on Netflix

I started to watch The Good Place while wanting something light and fluffy to watch in the evenings which I didn’t have to think about too much. From its bright and happy promo pictures I honestly thought it would be just another over-the-top American sitcom.

Oh how I was wrong.

The Good Place, starring Kristin Bell and Ted Danson is not only hilarious, its twists and turns are completely unexpected. The show centres around main character, Eleanor Shellstrop who finds herself in ‘The Good Place’ after her unexpected death on Earth. However, she fairly quickly realises there’s been a case of mistaken identity and that she should actually be in ‘The Bad Place.’ Of course she makes a number of friends along the way, all with their own back stories, and hilarity ensues.

Not only is the show full of laughs, it explores ideas around what it means to live a good life and to be a good person. To get into ‘The Good Place’, humans are assessed throughout their lives; given points for the good stuff and having points taken away for the bad stuff. Telling a woman to smile or poisoning a river will lose a person points; whereas letting someone merge in traffic or ending slavery will gain them points. These points are calculated over a lifetime and determine where a person will spend their eternity.

While there is an obvious reference here to heaven and hell, religion is mostly left out of the show. Morals and ethics, however, is a huge theme throughout.

Season one follows Eleanor as she learns how to be a good person from her newfound friend, Chidi, an actual university moral philosophy professor. Without giving away too many spoilers, by season two, we see four friends trying to be the best people they can while living in a version of hell. The show invites us to question our own place.

How much ‘good’ makes us a good person? How much ‘bad’ means we’re bad ourselves? Is there a point to being good if you don’t get anything in return? But more so, how do we try to be good people in a modern, western world when we’re dealing with so much bad stuff here on Earth?

The Good Place is clever, well thought out and funny with loads of feelgood elements. It will also really make you think if you let it.

Heather Dowling

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