Have you been watching THE GOOD PLACE? No? Oh…wow…um…it’s fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.
Except, you guys, you really should watch it! When it premiered last year, I wasn’t sure what to think about it. Of course, as a die-hard VERONICA MARS fan, I was all about any reason for Kristen Bell to be on my TV every week. But a show about heaven and hell? What were the odds Hollywood would create something about the afterlife that wasn’t offensive?
Good thing I didn’t take that bet, because I have yet to be offended, friends. THE GOOD PLACE is certainly not written according to my own beliefs about how the world works, who’s in charge of this place (and the good place and the other place and all the places in between), or what happens when we die. But the show isn’t really interested in all that anyway.
It’s here to create an unpredictable, interesting story with characters who grow — and grow on you, and it’s here to make you laugh. It’s make-believe – funny, funny make-believe.
And maybe think. A little. But only if you want to.
This show that began as a long shot for a full season run quickly became an audience and critic favorite, developing into a full-fledged sensation by season two (which was still a short one and which just ended). But while I’ve heard critic after critic talk about how much they adore the show and the ratings prove that people are, indeed, watching it, I don’t feel like I’m hearing a lot of my actual friends talk about it.
So, I’m here today to plead the case of THE GOOD PLACE — and to offer to be your companion as you catch up on the first two seasons. The sacrifices I make.
First things first – why should you watch this show?
- It is funny. Not gentle smile funny. Not slight grin funny. Not heh-heh funny. I’m talking actual, laugh-out-loud, pause and rewind to make sure you heard the whole joke funny.
- Even better? It’s smart, too. This is a show that’s made philosophy interesting and nearly understandable.
Numbers 3, 4 and 5 are all the people who are a part of this show. The creators (number 3) should’ve been our first clue that this was gonna be good. Michael Schur is best known for writing for THE OFFICE, as well as co-creating PARKS & RECREATION and BROOKLYN NINE-NINE. So, clearly he knows a thing or two about making funny shows. And while we may not have recognized all the stars in the cast, we’re very familiar with the comedy chops of Ted Danson and Kristen Bell (number 4).
(Oh yeah, that reminds me of #6. If you’re looking for some new alternative cuss words, THE GOOD PLACE has you covered. No matter how hard Eleanor (Kristen Bell’s character) tries to swear, the good place won’t let her. So we get a lot of “fork” and “shirt,” and call me an adolescent boy, but it is funny every single time!)
Back to number five: the guest stars. Believe me when I tell you that the Adam Scott of THE GOOD PLACE is no Ben Wyatt — and you will be so glad. He’s sleazy and smug AND HILARIOUS. And the Maya Rudolph who shows up late in season two is the very best version of Maya Rudolph.
Now, if you don’t know the basic plot of this show, let me take a minute to break it down for you. Eleanor wakes up and finds herself in The Good Place. She’s told that she died and earned her way to The Good Place, where her eternal reward is a brightly colored house full of clown paintings, a nerdy supposed soul mate, and all the frozen custard she can eat. She realizes real fast that someone messed up and sent the wrong Eleanor to The Good Place, but obviously she doesn’t want to be kicked out and sent to The Bad Place. So she tries to hide her secret and eventually tries to learn how to be a better person from her philosophy professor “soul mate.”
And then – here’s the seventh reason you should be watching THE GOOD PLACE – crazy things happen. Twists! Surprises! Shocking reveals! AND IT JUST DOESN’T STOP. Just when you think the writers have surely written themselves into a corner and can’t possibly go anywhere else, THEY BLOW YOUR MIND. I learned quickly to set my DVR to record an extra minute so I didn’t miss the last, almost always surprising few seconds of each episode.
Reasons #8 and #9 you should watch? THE GOOD PLACE is a half-hour sitcom. And when you take out commercials, that means you can buzz through three episodes in about an hour. So it won’t take you much time at all to watch the first two (short!) seasons. So if time is your excuse here, it’s not going to hold. This show is just half an hour and just two seasons (so far). Get to watching!
But first, one more reason. My favorite part of THE GOOD PLACE is probably my favorite part of any show (or movie or book or story of any kind) — the characters. When the show begins, it seems clear-cut which characters are good and which ones are…not. And lines are drawn quickly, characters pitted against one another early on. But then…things change. They change. They grow and learn — and as viewers, we learn more, too.
THE GOOD PLACE is clever and complex and one of the best shows on TV right now. Do you watch it? Have I convinced you to start? :)
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