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THE GOOD PLACE Offers Hope for Good People in a Terrible World

THE GOOD PLACE Offers Hope for Good People in a Terrible World

Warning: This post contains major spoilers for the season two finale of The Good Place.

 

There has been no shortage of wonderful, hopeful moments on The Good Place, but one ever-present, bleak truth has never been gone away: it’s hard to get to the real good place because the threshold to qualify as a truly good person is ridiculously high. And while the show’s season two finale, “Somewhere Else,” presented how the world makes it almost impossible to be a good person, it also gave us our best hope for how we can be anyway.

Most of us would fail to qualify for “The Good Place.” Tahani raised 60 billion dollars for charity and helped a tremendous amount of people, but that didn’t matter because she did it for selfish reasons. Chidi spent a life obsessing over what it means to be a good person and tried to put those lessons into practice, but none of that mattered because his personal failings undid all of that. And last week, when they all showed how much genuine personal growth they’ve made, the Judge said none of that mattered. “Better” isn’t good enough, only “good” is good enough. Michael thinks the whole system for judging human lives might be broken, and he’s probably right and that’s not fair, but we know what Sean said about “fair.” You want to be a good person you better the right kind of really good person.

After Eleanor went back to Earth (or at the very least a simulation of it) for a literal real life test, we saw how the world did everything it could to keep her from being her best self. Working hard, telling the truth, and being selfless led to lawsuits, lost friends, and diarrhea, and that’s because life is full of bad people. Everything around us–greed, selfishness, apathy, anger–fights against our desire to be better people, and the harder we try to be good the more pointless it can seem. When things seems to be easier the worse you are as a person, why make things harder on yourself by being good? Especially when it isn’t clear there is any “moral dessert” to gain, in this life or the next?

The Good Place has given empathetic reasons why someone might be bad before, like when we learned about Eleanor and Tahani’s parents. That didn’t let them off the hook though, they still were still earmarked for the bad place. Because no matter how much our parents, friends, or the entire world sucks, there’s no excuse for giving in to it. Ultimately we are responsible for ourselves.

So basically to reach a paradise we don’t actually know exists and avoid eternal damnation we have to make our lives as hard as possible in a world that fights our attempts to be good people while rewarding mother forking shirtheads. And even then it might not be enough. When you put it like that it seems stupid not to just say “fork this?” and not leave a note.

But despite telling us the world mostly sucks and being good means eating a lot of shirts, “Somewhere Else” was the show’s most hopeful episode yet. Michael’s nudge (Ted Danson bartending!) to Eleanor, by reciting her own words back to her, was a gorgeous moment, but the way his question about “what do we owe to each other?” pushed her to seek out Chidi–who had just kissed her at the Judge’s–was the show’s most beautiful scene ever.

Because no matter how terrible things are, no matter how futile our attempts to overcome that reality, there is one idea that can help us be the people we want–and need–to be: “we are not in this alone.” All of the progress Eleanor, Tahani, Chidi, Jason, and Michael have made was only possible because they supported one another and selflessly gave of themselves.

They aren’t good people on their own, but they make each other good people.

It was a stunning season finale because it provided real, tangible hope. Yeah, it’s really, really hard to be truly good, almost impossible even, but we can do it if we stop worrying about ourselves and worry about one another. And if that seems like a battle you’re fighting alone, you’re not.

What did you think of the season finale? Tell us in the comments below.

Images: NBC

 

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