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The Good Place
Created by Michael Schur
Starring Kristen Bell
Ted Danson
William Jackson Harper
Jameela Jamil
D'Arcy Carden
Manny Jacinto
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Production
Running time approx. 22 minutes (per episode)
Release
Original network NBC
Original release September 19, 2016 – January 30, 2020

The Good Place is an American sitcom. It is about the afterlife and philosophy. It was on television for four seasons.

In most episodes, the characters learn an idea about ethics or the study of telling right from wrong. For example, in the second season, there was an episode about the trolley problem.

Premise

A woman named Eleanor (Kristen Bell) opens her eyes in a waiting room. A man named Michael (Ted Danson) tells her that she is dead and in the afterlife. He says that some people do bad things when they are alive and go to bad place when they die, where they are tortured to punish them. Other people do good things and go to a good place when they die. He tells her she is in part of "the Good Place," a neighborhood with a few hundred people who all lived good lives. Eleanor also meets Janet (D'arcy Carden), a cheerful robot-like woman who runs the neighborhood and likes to help people.

However, Michael talks more about Eleanor's life on Earth, and Eleanor realizes someone has made a mistake: she was really supposed to go to the Bad Place instead. Eleanor realizes that if she keeps acting the way she acted on Earth, she will be caught and sent to the bad afterlife. Eleanor tricks another dead person, ethics professor Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper), into teaching her ethics so she can pretend to be good and hide in the Good Place. As Chidi gives Eleanor lessons, she becomes better for real.

Eleanor learns that another bad person is also in the good place by mistake. A DJ named Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto) has been pretending to be a Buddhist monk named Jianyu. She also meets her neighbor, Tahani (Jameela Jamil). Tahani is an elegant but mean philanthropist who spent her life on Earth raising money for charities but did not really care about anyone.

At the end of the first season, Eleanor figures out that her neighborhood is really part of the Bad Place. Michael and most of the people in it are demons. She, Chidi, Jason, and Tahani have all been tricked into torturing each other. Over the next three seasons, these characters learn more about ethics and try to save themselves and other people from the Bad Place.

Structure and style

In most sitcoms, things go back to the way they were at the beginning of each episode. This did not happen much in The Good Place. David Sims of The Atlantic said the first season was more like a "serialized sci-fi drama" in plot. But it was told in a light, sitcom style that critics said was funny.

When the show was renewed for a second season, the writers decided that instead of trying to stay on television as long as possible, they wanted to tell one story with a clear ending. They planned the story for seasons two, three and four but were not sure exactly how long it would take to tell it.

Characters

  • Eleanor Shellstrop - (Kristin Bell) A selfish party girl from Arizona. According to Schur, the character Eleanor was designed to explore the idea that selfishness is what is wrong with society. When Eleanor was alive, she decided to be by herself, not make close friends or join groups, so that she wouldn't owe anything to anyone and no one would owe anything to her. But this made Eleanor lonely and sad. Over the course of the show, Eleanor learns that this is wrong and becomes a better person.
  • Chidi Anagonye - (William Jackson Harper) A scared moral philosophy professor from Senegal. When Chidi was alive, he always thought hard about whether he was doing the right thing, but this made him too afraid to make choices. Over the course of the show, Chidi teaches Eleanor, Jason, Tahani and Michael about ethics.
  • Tahani al-Jamil - (Jameela Jamil) A vain philanthropist from England. When Tahani was alive, she helped many people, usually by running glamorous fundraisers. But she is sent to the bad place because she did not really care about anyone, only about becoming famous and trying to make her parents proud of her. When Tahani was a child, her parents were always comparing her to her sister and making them compete. Over the course of the show, Tahani learns to care about people, makes friends with her sister and forgives her parents.
  • Jason Mendoza - (Manny Jacinto) A silly DJ from Florida. When Jason was alive, he almost never thought about what he was doing. He cared about making money, making music, having fun and his friends. But he was very kind.
  • Janet - (D'arcy Carden) Janet is the information system in the Good Place. She can make objects appear and knows all the knowledge in the universe. There is one Janet for every Good and Bad Place neighborhood, but they are not all the same. Good Place Janets are cheerful and helpful and wear colorful office clothes. Bad Place Janets call people names like "you fat dink," rarely look up from their smart phones and like to make long, noisy farts. There is also at least one Neutral Janet and one Disco Janet. Janets become different from each other as they learn new things. Over the course of the show, the Janet from Michael's neighborhood becomes more complicated and develops feelings and wisdom. Janets do not experience time the same way humans do.
  • Michael - (Ted Danson) An afterlife architect from the Bad Place. He is a demon. He built the fake Good Place neighborhood, where he planned for Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani to torture each other. Over the course of the show, he becomes friends with Janet and the four humans and learns about ethics.
  • Mindy St. Clair - (Maribeth Monroe) A woman who lives in a Medium Place by herself. She helps Eleanor and her friends.
  • The Judge - (Maya Rudolph) A judge. Judge Gen is supposed to judge all arguments between the Bad Place and Good Place, but mostly she sits in her office and watches TV. Her full name is "Hydrogen."
  • Vicky - (Tiya Sircar) Another demon who works in Michael's fake Good Place. She is always practicing her acting.
  • Shawn - (Marc Evan Jackson) Michael's boss in the Bad Place.

Philosophical ideas mentioned by name on The Good Place

These are some of the ideas that the characters talk about on the show.

Related pages

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