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The Good Place: Season 1 - TV Series Review

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by Jennifer Muirhead (subscribe)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt
Published October 9th 2017
Everything is fine

Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell, of Veronica Mars and Party Down) finds that she has died and gone to "the Good Place". Michael, the angel (Ted Danson) tells her that only a very select few make it to this eternal paradise, but that she earned her place through her work as a human rights lawyer. She is given a home to live in and introduced to her soul mate, Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper), an ethics professor born in Nigeria who is excited at the prospect of exploring the fundamental questions of the universe together with his true soul mate. Unfortunately, there appears to have been a mistake, with Eleanor being sent to the Good Place instead of another woman with the same name, and her presence begins to disrupt the delicate balance of the perfect neighbourhood. Desperate not to be found out and sent to the Bad Place, Eleanor enlists Chidi's help to learn how to be a good person and truly deserve her place in paradise.

the good place, tv series, Kristen Bell, tv comedy
Eleanor tries to think of a single good action she performed during her life in order to make Chidi feel better about helping her.

the good place, sitcoms, evil clown house, Kristen Bell, shrimps in your bra
"Did you put shrimps in your bra?"

The Good Place
is a quirky fantasy/sitcom, which offers a different idea of the afterlife. There are some genuine laugh out loud moments in the first season. D'Arcy Carden is hilarious as Janet, the AI personal assistant who is unwittingly enlisted in various conflicting schemes. The humour is reminiscent of Monty Python in the scenes of chaos following Eleanor's drunken outburst at a party (the neighbourhood is plagued with giraffes, giant ladybugs, forks, flying shrimp, glitter and Ariana Grande music) and in Michael's paranoid overreaction to a suspicious looking dog.

The Good Place, tv series, Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, fork
"Oh fork."

In addition to being funny, The Good Place is also surprisingly educational. As Chidi attempts to instruct Eleanor about different concepts in ethics, the show illustrates those concepts in unexpected ways. It might inspire some viewers to read up a little about things like Utilitarianism, the ethics of lying, and whether a person's motivations for performing an action matter as much as the action itself. It provides a more thoughtful exploration of these ideas than Star Trek ever did (Come at me Trekkies, I'll die on this hill!). The story as it unfolds is intriguing, with Eleanor receiving mysterious notes from someone else who knows she doesn't belong, and a sinkhole opening up and threatening to destroy the entire neighbourhood. It keeps you guessing about what exactly is really going on in the Good Place and whose fault it is.

There is no explicit language, which isn't allowed in the Good Place (it is replaced by words like "fork" and "ash") and no sex scenes. There is violence, but it is over the top and cartoonish rather than gory.

The Good Place
is a fun, fresh comedy with a great cast that actually gives you something to think about as well as laugh about. It first aired on NBC in the United States and is currently streaming on Netflix in Australia, with a new episode available every week.
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