5 reasons why 'The Good Place' shatters the conventions of television (Spoilers ahead!)

By YP cadet Nicole Cheung
By YP cadet Nicole Cheung |

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Go on, think of another show as unique as The Good Place. We'll wait.

The Good Place is more than just your average TV show. The Michael Schur original, which recently started its third season, has been receiving raving ratings since its creation. But what truly sets this show apart from any other? Let’s count down the five reasons why The Good Place will make you put down your headphones and say “Hot diggity dog!”

1. The premise is original and refreshing.

Eleanor Shellstrop is a scam artist - and she’s dead. She wakes up in an afterlife utopia called “The Good Place”, where she meets an “architect” named Michael. He explains that the utopia is a reward for her virtuous life. Quickly realising that there must have been a mistake, she attempts to hide her morally imperfect behaviour from the rest of the neighbourhood.

Rarely do dystopian, comedic, and real-life elements mix together, but The Good Place” makes it happen, amd happen well. From ethics points” which decide your fate after death, to neighbourhood architects, to an endearing all-knowing robot called Janet, here to help with your every need, the show creates an utterly innovative, fully realised, and fresh setting in which to immerse yourself.

2. The storytelling is unpredictable and quick-paced

According to an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, executive producer Schur made a commitment to have “at least one weird magical thing in every episode”.

The hilariously low-stakes nature of the afterlife make the most absurd and dangerous plots seem mundane. The moment you get used to an omnipotent android, Michael kicks a dog into a sun, and then a “Category 55” sinkhole in the middle of the street. The show’s creative freedom keeps the audience on their toes, with no real way to determine whats important and what on Earth could happen next.

3. The humour is dry

The humour in The Good Place is heavily based on on the main ensemble and their quirks, with subtle references to and commentary on popular culture. Without spoiling much, here are some examples:

Eleanor’s blatant narcissism:

Jason’s unending dedication to supposedly “mediocre” American football team Jacksonville Jaguars:

Chidi’s never-ending internal turmoil:

Tahani’s endless name dropping of public figures:

Michael’s mini tantrums and childish antics:

While the absurd scenarios will bring forth side-splitting laughs, its the self-aware and socially relevant dry humour that makes you snort and say “That was kinda clever”.

4. The Intricate moral philosophy

The show explores some pretty deep philosophical ideas when Eleanor seeks out the help of her afterlife soulmate and ethics teacher, Chidi. Despite being unable to tell the difference between Aristotle and US fast food chain Chipotle, she is determined to learn how to be a good person. Through Chidi’s mentoring, concepts such as utilitarianism, deontology, and Kantian ethics are discussed, serving as commentary for real-life happenings in the Good Place. Is Chidi justified in helping Eleanor? Can Eleanor be helped? Who deserves to get into the Good Place?

Nonetheless, perhaps what every The Good Place fan holds dearest to their hearts, is the quote “What we owe each other”, which references a book written by T. M. Scalon. As Chidi explains, the quote investigates contractualism and co-existing morally. The principal cast's many exploits showcase how they connect with those concepts. 

5. The show has a lot of heart

At the end of the day, The Good Place is enjoyable because it is inspiring and uplifting. For topics as bleak as death and our worth as human beings, the show is able to grapple with them in a sincere and touching manner.

Eleanor, Chidi, Jason, and Tahani are dead, but they are able to find happiness and fulfilment despite that. They might do bad things or harm others, but at the core of it, they’re people who have feelings, who care, and whowant to be better. Across the seasons, this drive isn’t something ever seriously questioned, not even once.

Famous for the optimism and heartwarming nature of his creations, Schur doesn’t intend for his show to indulge in the horrors of the world. Instead, by blending together darkness and light, The Good Place is a healthy way of preaching for the need for kindness, self-improvement, and most importantly, hope.

All gifs via GIPHY and Tenor