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4 Reasons You Should Be Watching THE GOOD PLACE

4 Reasons You Should Be Watching THE GOOD PLACE

With its unique concept, stellar cast, and consistent comedy, NBC’s The Good Place stands out among TV’s current offerings. It’s certainly the most original accomplishment yet of creator Michael Schur, who has to date worked on The Office and co-created Parks and RecreationThe Good Place is a sitcom by its basest definition, but this time, it’s about the afterlife, it’s full of fun twists, and it’s deeply, wonderfully weird. Even with its absurdity, though, the characters remain deeply relatable, and its emotional beats always ring true. If you haven’t hopped aboard this trolley yet, there are plenty of reasons to try. Here’s why you should go back, binge on a season and a half, and then carve out a half hour on Thursday evenings going forward.

IT’S TV’S MOST ORIGINAL COMEDY

The Good Place has always been high concept, but it never sacrifices accessibility to this end. Season one used the framing device of “Someone who wasn’t meant for heaven ends up there,” an idea that was interesting but didn’t necessarily promise longevity. Fortunately, creator Michael Schur and his crew had something shocking in store for viewers going forward (SPOILER WARNING): the utopian setting they’d come to know as the Good Place was actually the Bad Place. Those that ruled over the Bad Place—typically a fiery hellscape—were testing out a bold new method of torture by using the victim’s own vices against them, opting for psychological torment over physical. It was a bold move creatively, and it’s still paying off. As main character Eleanor (Kristen Bell) and her companions began figuring out Bad Place architect Michael’s (Ted Danson) scheme, the story took turns the audience never could’ve anticipated. 

THE CHARACTERS ARE COMPLETELY CAPTIVATING

After the first few episodes, the residents of the Good Place could’ve been described in broad strokes: comically cruel and self-absorbed Eleanor, her stick-in-the-mud soulmate Chidi (William Jackson Harper), the glamorous and image-obsessed Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and silent monk Jiangyu (Manny Jacinto), who’s actually a clueless dancer named Jason posing as a nobler man. However, there’s plenty below the surface in three of those cases: Eleanor’s cruelty stems from deep loneliness and lack of fulfillment, Chidi’s indecisive nature and tendency toward uptightness prevented him from ever truly being happy in life, and Tahani’s jealousy of her sister’s success led to her self-absorption… and, ultimately, her death. Jason is, more than anything else, a vehicle for humor—another of the show’s greatest strengths.

THE JOKES NEVER PUNCH DOWN

Humor-wise, The Good Place punches up. Instead of jokes that leave a bad taste in a viewer’s mouth, the show relies on absurdity, sight gags, silly puns, and snappy dialogue for laughs. Some of the most memorable moments, like a wedding dance featuring *NSYNC’s “Digital Get Down,” Janet (Michael’s assistant who’s essentially an AI in a skirt suit played by D’arcy Carden) malfunctioning and spewing pennies all over Michael’s office, and Michael’s muscle car-driving, earring-sporting midlife crisis (he’s several eons old), would all be far too weird on any other show. But this is The Good Place, and weirdness is sublime. As far as wordplay goes, look no further than writer Megan Amram’s restaurant names she brainstormed for season two episode “Dance Dance Resolution.”

The comedic performances are also stellar. It’s no exaggeration to say that every regular player on The Good Place is gifted comedically; Chidi’s stammers are just as funny as Eleanor’s creative insults or Michael’s scathing critique of Les Miserables. And the best part? The joke density is bonkers. As soon as one giggle fit is over, the next one’s already started.

IT HAS HEART, BUT IS NEVER CHEESY

Sentimentality isn’t always a bad thing, and it has its place in TV comedy. Schur and the Good Place writers understand that, but instead of going for maudlin moments, they take another tack: always add some bitter to the sweet. That’s what makes the heartfelt portions of The Good Place so compelling; Eleanor, Chidi, and the others are deeply flawed, and even when they’re portrayed as happy (whether in the past or present), there’s the sense it won’t last long. Initially, the show was far from a tearjerker, but thats what its turned out to be in addition to one of the best comedies in recent memory. And thats worth tuning in for.

Let us know if you’ll be climbing aboard the The Good Place bandwagon!

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