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The Good Place is TV Heaven

Sebastian Golden | sgolden18@dtechhs.org | December 25, 2017

Photo: NBC

NBC’s The Good Place turned itself on its head in the season one finale.

The first season saw four characters finding themselves in heaven: self-described “dirtbag from Arizona” Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), perpetually indecisive philosopher Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper), British socialite Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil), and Jacksonville DJ Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto).

But they’re actually in hell, or The Bad Place, as they call it. They’ve been put together in a fake heaven, designed by eternal demon and Bad Place architect Michael (Ted Danson) in order to get them to drive each other insane. Eleanor figures out this plot in the season one finale, after which the whole neighborhood is reset, and the four have their memories erased. But in the season two premiere, they figure it out again, and again, and the next hundred-plus times.

Michael’s in trouble, and if his scheme fails, he’ll be tortured by the other Bad Place demons in his own version of hell, so he desperately joins his former victims to try to make it to the real Good Place. And while we have yet to see how this story arc turns out, it gives Ted Danson an opportunity to shine, showing off his incredible acting capabilities as his character faces constant conflict between torturing his deserving victims and trying to escape his own eternal agony.

The new season has seen a shift in the show’s comedic style. While in season one, The Good Place utilized light-hearted, situational jokes, season two’s comedy is based in the characters’ personalities and relationships, whether it’s Tahani’s horror at the prospect of wearing cargo pants (“I can’t believe I’m praising off-the-rack separates!”) or Jason’s anguish about his age (“I’m too young to die, and too old to eat off the kids’ menu!”). And while the show keeps its trademark puns (like episode 3’s Italian restaurant Hokey Gnocchi) and not-quite-swear words (“Holy forking shirtballs!”) it incorporates one-liners on topics ranging from the BBC to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Perhaps the greatest question is what will happen next. The characters can only stay in their convoluted purgatory for so long, and Eleanor and Chidi’s and Tahani and Jason’s relationships have developed rather quickly. If this pace is kept up, the show will run out of material in a season or two.

The show ended on a cliffhanger right before the midseason break, leaving viewers wondering whether or not the five characters’ plot will be discovered and if they will be sent to the real Bad Place.

The Good Place will resume on January 4, 2018.

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