This is another one where I think we were a bit late to the party but one where we were definitely glad we did eventually join the party. Mr O actually started watching this without me and on realising that it would definitely be my kind of thing, stopped and waited for me. Now, that’s modern romance for you…
When Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) dies she is surprised to wake up in “the good place”. Here she meets Michael (Ted Danson), the architect of this neighbourhood of eternal bliss who informs her that her amazing acts of sacrifice have earned her an eternity of happiness.
She is introduced to her “soul mate”, Chidi (William Jackson Jones), an ethics professor who struggles to make decisions as well as her philanthropist neighbour, Tahani (Jamila Jameel) and Tahani’s soul mate, Jianyu – a silent monk.
The only problem is that Eleanor didn’t perform any amazing acts of sacrifice, in fact she was an absolutely awful person of extremely questionable morals and ethics who should definitely be in “the bad place”. On revealing this to Chidi she sends him into a tailspin that is further exacerbated by her struggles with containing her true nature. As more and more strange things start to happen in the Good Place, Eleanor convinces Chidi to try to teach her to be a better person, but will it work? And is everything as it seems?
The Good Place is so clever. The whole set up of how the neighbourhood is run and managed is structured in a way that leads to hilariously relatable situations but also has enough bonkersness to appeal to fans of surrealist comedy. I mean who imagined an afterlife with an all-knowing, ever-present robot assistant called Janet (D’Arcey Carden)? It also manages to avoid any religious overtones, while borrowing ideals from all common moral philosophies of major world religions. (A gentle reminder that not being a dick is less about sky gods and more about cooperation and kindness being an evolutionary benefit).
Eleanor is an awful character but she has just enough positive qualities to make you want to root for her and she is played to perfection by Kristen Bell. The supporting characters are just as good with Danson and Jameel standing out.
Season one ends on a mega twist, that I absolutely don’t want to spoil for you so just go and watch it. It’s one of the best comedies I have watched in years.