Everything Is Fine

‘The Good Place’ Will Completely Shift Your Perception On The Universe


Photo Credits: NBC

TV poster for "The Good Place".

Faith Nicholas, Writer

The award-winning television show ‘The Good Place’ is nearing the end of its fourth and final season. The critically acclaimed comedy introduces the viewer to a fictional multi-dimensional universe, while combating the most complicated philosophical questions in an entertaining and eye-opening way.

The story begins by following the point-of-view of Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) who has died and been sent to a version of the afterlife referred to as The Good Place. Eleanor awakes to the words, “everything is fine” facing her. She is welcomed into an office by Michael (Ted Danson) who is revealed to be an “architect.” In this story, “architect” refers to an immortal being who was tasked to create their very own “neighborhood” to comfort humans in the afterlife. The “neighborhood” is designed as a town that contains houses, frozen yogurt shops, a beach and a train that leads to multiple dimensions. Michael explains how there are multiple “neighborhoods,” and each “neighborhood” is designed to comfort a selective group of humans for eternity.

Eleanor’s despairing death is explained by Michael in the first episode. Before her death, Eleanor was in a grocery store parking lot and dropped a bottle of margarita mix hilariously titled, “Lonely Gal Margarita Mix for One.” When she went to retrieve it, a column of shopping carts pushed her into the street, where she was killed by a truck. Eleanor stops Michael from sharing the rest of the story once she hears that one of the first medical technicians to arrive at the scene was her ex-boyfriend, implying that Eleanor’s ex-boyfriend most likely had to give her CPR. This is the first demonstration of the show’s comedic chaos.

Michael presents the colorful, utopian “neighborhood” to Eleanor, recalling Eleanor’s achievements during her life on earth. According to Michael, The Good Place is divided into “neighborhoods” with 322 carefully chosen people who are meant to blend with each other perfectly. To enhance the inhabitants’ experience, each person has their very own soulmate. A points system is used to calculate the amount of points a human received for being “good.” After a human dies, they are welcomed into The Good Place if they have enough points.

Every sandwich you ate, every time you bought a magazine, every single thing you did had an effect that rippled out over time and ultimately created some amount of good or bad…when your time on earth has ended, we calculate the total value of your life using our perfectly accurate measuring system,” Michael explains.

The show’s plot becomes complex as Eleanor admits to her “soulmate” Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper) that she believes she was let into The Good Place by mistake. Michael believed Eleanor did many charitable activities when she was alive, like visiting orphans in Ukraine. However, Eleanor was a shockingly self-absorbed person. Her indifference towards her peers’ emotions is demonstrated through flashbacks. Some flashbacks of Eleanor’s life include leaving her friend’s dog alone to see Rihanna live, scamming the elderly, humiliating her friend and lashing out on an environmentalist. Since Chidi Anagonye was an ethics professor, he decides to help Eleanor become a “good” person by teaching her philosophy so she is not sent to The Bad Place.

One of the aspects I adore about this show is the acknowledgement of existential anxiety. When I was in middle school, I went to therapy for months due to having an existential crisis. The inescapable concept of death can be frightening. However, ‘The Good Place’ took my anxiety and sorted it out while comforting me. This show tackles a variety of questions we all ask ourselves at some point: What is the reason for being a good person? What is the reason for life and happiness if everything ends?

To answer one of those questions, my favorite scene takes place within the very last episode of Season 3. To prevent spoilers, I will only say that one of the main characters is forced to wipe their memories clean, so Eleanor loses a romantic relationship with them. She begins to wonder why she should seek happiness if it is always taken away from her. In emotional distress, Eleanor asks Janet (D’Arcy Carden)—Michael’s all-knowing robotic assistant—what “the answer” to life is. Since Janet does not understand this question, all she can do is try to comfort Eleanor.

If there were an answer I could give you to how the universe works, it wouldn’t be special. It would just be machinery fulfilling its cosmic design. It would just be a big, dumb food processor. But, since nothing seems to make sense, when you find something or someone that does, it’s euphoria,” Janet explains.

This scene is tear-jerking. Do not expect an answer to existence, because finding your own happiness within the universe and appreciating that is more significant.

On a lighter note, the show’s comedic relief compliments the overwhelming plot. Eleanor’s apathetic personality in the first season is so blunt and bizarre to the point where its comedic. Another favorite character of mine is Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto). This Floridian DJ is so dim-witted and clueless, but he is very lovable. Something worth noting about Jason is that he also believed he was not supposed to be in The Good Place. I was delighted to see the presence of Maya Rudolph, a comedian who plays the 13.8 billion-year-old Judge Gen. Another notable character is Shawn (Mark Evan Jackson), an almighty judge from The Bad Place who delivers humorous lines in a monotone voice.

The originality of the character design is fascinating. Eleanor, Chidi, Jason, and Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil) formed a friend group in The Good Place. Eleanor is not the only human in The Good Place with flaws. Chidi is so indecisive to the point where he hurts those around him. Jason participated in illegal activities on earth and died when he was locked in a safe (he believed a snorkel would prevent him from suffocating). Tahani Al-Jamil raised $60 billion for charity, but only because she wanted to outshine her sister and impress her parents. Despite their flaws, the four develop an unbreakable bond as they strive to become better people to prevent themselves from a fate of eternal torture. Chidi uses his experience as an ethics professor to provide seminars to his friends about philosophy. Their memories are also erased several times within the series, but they always find and help each other. The main characters’ flaws and distinct personalities made it so easy for me to form a bond and care about them.

The world-building grabs and maintains the viewer’s attention with complicated links to how time works in the multi-dimensional universe. In Michael’s words, while humanity’s timeline runs in a straight line, the universe’s timeline forms a shape similar to the words “Jeremy Bearimy” in cursive. There is also an IHOP, except it stands for Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes and acts as a bridge between worlds. The pancakes in this crossroad dimension are predators.

When I began watching, I wondered how the show could carry on to a fourth season with this seemingly straight-forward plot. Humans enter The Good Place if they lived a selfless life, and Eleanor was there by mistake. I was concerned that it would drag out. However, there are multiple plot twists that greatly increase the intensity and level of entertainment of the plot.

Overall, I highly recommend ‘The Good Place’ since it gives the viewer a different outlook on life while providing high-quality entertainment with brilliant acting. The series is nearing its finale and can be found on multiple streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu.

Rating: 10/10