Holy Motherforking Shirtballs: A Goodbye to ‘The Good Place’

This past Thursday marked the final airdate for NBC’s hit series, The Good Place. The show first aired in 2016 and according to TV Guide was among the most anticipated shows of the season. The Good Place came to fruition, when show Executive Producer and Creator, Michael Shur, created his own concept of the afterlife. In this version, selflessly good people would go to the Good Place upon death and questionable others would go to the Bad Place. One was a paradise tailored to the occupants and the other was eternal torture. (It’s not hard to figure out which was which.) The show focuses on Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) as they are tested even after they’re dead. Through trials and tribulations of the unimaginable, the characters have persevered and become better for it. As a reward for all they’ve been through, Shur has decided that the story of four humans, one otherworldly being, and a not-robot, has found its ending.  

As a way of bidding my favorite show farewell, I wanted to highlight some of the qualities that make it so remarkable.

  1. 1. Terrific plot & other story structure things

     In most stories, especially those on TV, the writers wait to shock the audience until the very last episode of a season. On The Good Place, every new episode peels back a new layer of plot or worldbuilding or characterization. In the very first episode, we find out the perfect paradise that is the Good Place has been accidentally infiltrated by a not-so-good human, Eleanor Shellstrop. The season takes off after that as the other characters scramble to deal with their own problems, all seeming to stem from this placement mistake.

    In an interview with Xfinity at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Jameela Jamil described the final season as a runaway train plowing through the story at record speed. I think the same thing can be said for the show as a whole. The speed kicks up a notch with every episode and it’s safe to say viewers are glued to both their chairs and their screens.  

  2. 2. The beauty of the characters

    Part of what makes The Good Place stand out amongst all of the other shows on television today are the characters who are conceived in equal parts by the writers who build them and the actors who breathe them to life. Between an Arizona Dirt Bag, a Human Turtleneck, a Narcissistic Monster, Literally the Dumbest Person Alive, a Reformed Demon and a Not-Girl-Not-Robot-Not-Quite-Siri, the transformative nature of these characters is breathtaking.

    Often a critique of TV — and storytelling in general — is the unearned redemptions, the untraceable development and overall the characterization holes that leave watchers wondering who is on their screen. The Good Place writers leave no stone unturned when crafting these characters and the actors bring them to life with such dedication it feels as if you’ve known them your whole life.

  3. 3. Lessons, both big & small

    The best part of The Good Place, in my opinion, would have to be the lessons. No, I’m not talking about Chidi’s philosophical lessons, though if you ever wanted to learn about morals and ethics without it feeling like homework, this show is perfect for that. The lessons this show encompasses go far beyond the simplicity of a string of sentences, and even if I tried to summarize it, I don’t think I could do it justice.

    The thing about The Good Place is that it doesn’t teach us how to be good people. It shows us six characters that evolve and grow in ways that no one thought possible, but they do it anyway. They learn things like trying is always better than standing by and doing nothing; that overthinking every detail of life won’t solve moral dilemmas, but, then again, neither will throwing a Molotov Cocktail. And, of course, being good simply for the sake of goodness is always the best idea.

With one of the greatest shows leaving TV, it’s hard to imagine what we’ll do next. At the end of every episode of The Good Place: The Podcast, Marc Evan Jackson (who plays Shawn) always signs off by telling his viewers to do something good. So, I urge you, put something good into the world! I know, I know, in the world we live in, being good isn’t always easy. Life is wild and absolutely will throw you curveballs, so what then? In the words of my favorite not-a-girl-not-a-robot-not-quite-Alexa, embrace the pandemonium. Push forward and strive to be the best version of yourself, one beautiful flaw at a time.

Media: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5