‘The Good Place’ – A Brilliant, Intelligent, Hilarious Sitcom

On a recommendation from my Netflix advisor, I sat down and watched the first season of philosophical sitcom ‘The Good Place’. I absolutely loved it. Little did I realise that there were three more seasons for me to binge and love the show even more with every single episode.

The Good

This show is so good. I cannot stress this enough. I fell in love with this show within its very first episode. Each episode is only about 20 minutes long which makes them very easy to binge. I don’t know how they do it, but the writers manage to leave your mind blown or your heart racing by the end of every one. That’s what makes this show so addictive. To be honest, I’m quite sad that it only ran for four seasons, but it ended very well.

Characters

Let’s talk about the characters. Every single character in this show has a meaningful role. All of the main characters go through amazing, earned development and come out at the end as very different people (or demons). Even some secondary characters have a surprising amount of development. It’s so satisfying to watch a show where characters take actions and they affect them and the others around them. I hate when character development is reversed or completely ignored. (I’ll get onto that more later in this review).

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The whole cast is fantastic. Every single actor / actress is perfectly placed and nobody feels forced in their role. I love the delivery of lines from every single one of them, from the deadpan delivery of the demon named Shaun to the excitable (and surprisingly relatable) Michael.

Kristen Bell, who plays the lead role of Eleanor, is just hilarious in this show. I cannot put into words how much enjoyment she brought me.

Also, Jameela Jamil, in her first proper acting role, completely blew me away. She is so brilliant as Tahani and she is never anything less than convincing.

Additionally, I have to put a spotlight on D’Arcy Carden as Janet, the artificial intelligence who knows literally everything. Her performance on this show was absolutely outstanding. There is an episode titled Janet(s) in which she plays several versions of several characters all in the same scene and she deserves several awards for this one alone. I absolutely love how far she has come as an actress, as I remember her being in a few CollegeHumor sketches only a few years ago.

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Ted Danson is probably my favourite cast member of them all. I love how he brings the character of Michael to life. He was meant for this role. He is just perfect in this show and never puts a foot wrong (apart from once, which I’ll get to later). I sincerely urge you to go and watch this show if you haven’t already. I hope you, too, will fall in love with Michael.

Production

Firstly, I have to talk about the sets. This show is mostly set in the weird, wonderful worlds of its own idea of the afterlife. The sets are absolutely stunning. Every time the characters travel to a new location, I’m thinking to myself “I wish I could actually visit this place”.

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The music in this show is also brilliantly done. There’s no annoyingly long theme tune, just a gentle, memorable stinger with a title card. The score is perfect. It manages to be uplifting and mysterious simultaneously. Finally, the songs that are played or referenced in the show perfectly illustrate what it’s like to be alive nowadays, where you cannot escape commercially over-produced crap (or chart music, as it’s also known).

I don’t often notice this about a show, but the editing particularly pleased me. It never feels jarring, it always makes sense and it is so damn clean! It just feels like this whole show is a very well oiled, precisely engineered machine and it is so satisfying. I love it.

The Bad

There’s no such thing as a perfect show. ‘The Good Place’ is no exception. My main criticism of the show comes from the episode length. Each episode is a nice, concise little package, but sometimes it felt like you were being rushed through the story. I like to take my time with TV shows. I like to watch an episode, appreciate it and think about it. ‘The Good Place’ is constantly high-energy and you never really have a chance to reflect (until the end of the season, where there is always a game-changer).

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Secondly, there is one moment that sticks out like a sore thumb in my mind. Michael flossing. Please don’t include memes in TV shows or films or game or books or anything. Memes expire within weeks. Some endure, but you cannot count on it. This makes it incredibly cringey when a respected character tries to get in on a meme that is no longer relevant. Please stop.

Finally, I hate how Season 1 ends. I would have loved the premise from Season 1 to continue throughout the show, but instead it completely flips the show on its head and essentially reverses a whole season of earned character development. The twist at the end of Season 1 should not have felt this jarring. Once you finish the show and watch it back, it feels right, but at the time I wanted to stop watching.

The Medium

So, an idea that is explored in ‘The Good Place’ is that afterlife will have two places: the Good Place and the Bad Place. A recurring point in the show is that some characters feel the justification for a Medium Place. Perhaps it will be the afterlife for people who weren’t actively bad, but didn’t go out of their way to be good, either.

I try, with each of my reviews, to provide as much detail as I can about the Good and the Bad. However, sometimes there are things which are just Medium. Things that are okay, but don’t sway me either way.

This show has no notable Medium things. Every single thing that I think of, when it comes to this show, is engaging. There is nothing meh or underwhelming about this show. It is all fun, tear-jerking and insightful.

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Please, please, please watch this show in its entirety. You’ll question your own existence, but also every other TV show you’ve ever watched.

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