The Good Binge

A review on the first season of “The Good Place” (spoilers)


Maddox Abernathy, Digital Editor

“The Good Place” is a fictional fantasy show that follows a main cast of 5 characters.The main protagonist is Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) who dies and finds herself in “The Good Place”.She meets with Michael (Ted Danson), the architect for her neighborhood, and he describes her life on earth and praises her amazing deeds for humanity.They walk through the neighborhood to her house in the afterlife and meet her soulmate Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper), a moral philosophy profesor.They also meet her neighbors Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil), a british aristocrat who started a famous charity, and her soulmate Jianyu Li (Manny Jacinto), a Taiwanese monk who had taken a vow of silence.

Jason, who is pretending to be a silent monk
(left), and Tahani, who is a british aristocrat
with a big case of sibling rivalry (right), pose
together. Courtesy photo.

The afterlife is perfect in every way… except for one thing, there was a mistake with the “collection process” and Eleanor isn’t the “right” Eleanor Shellstrop.It is also revealed that there was a mistake with Jianyu too.He is really Jason Mendoza, a failed Floridian DJ and small-time criminal who suffocated in a safe after “doing a bunch of whippits” during a botched idiotic robbery.Jason’s backstory alone is a testament to The Good Place’s fantastic comedy writing.

This error with Eleanor and Jason is the main plot device in The Good Place.Chidi tries to teach Eleanor and Jianyu to be a good person so they can stay but it all goes awry when Eleanor’s presence starts to destroy the neighborhood.It all turns out to be a farce when Eleanor realizes they are not in The Good Place, they are in The Bad Place.This twist makes for one of the most satisfying and entertaining season finales on television. 

The finale for season 1 is great and leaves on a cliffhanger for season 2. The Good Place has earned two Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation and a Peabody Award.I loved the finale of season 1. I thought this show was going to be a slow burn turned into a fast-paced finish, but it surprised me and starts out pretty fast.Eleanor reveals to Chidi that she is not supposed to be there early on, so it doesn’t have a slow period of her keeping her secret from everyone.

The casting is perfect, and I think that Kristen Bell’s performance is fantastic as she brings some great comedic relief and also some more serious moments.When Janet, the neighborhoods AI, refuses to return to the neighborhood until her new husband Jason says it is okay.Eleanor sheds light on her parents and her own backstory.She tells Jason about her parents and how she emancipated herself at 14.

In this scene, we have a heavy dose of comedy but also an immense tone of melancholy.We see jokes in the writing as her mother says “You’re a really interesting person Eleanor.We should hang out sometime.” This is also contrast to the more depressing situation that Eleanor finds herself in at a young age.Her father is a lowlife who only cares about sports and drugs, while her mother is living the high life and drinking rosé, she runs into Eleanor’s fathers house drinking a glass after Eleanor tells her she has free WrestleMania tickets.Her father reaches for a pen to sign her emancipation papers but finds a joint wedged behind his ear instead.Eleanor says they both forgot about her birthday again and so she got herself a gift, the emancipation papers.She asks them both to sign it since she has been taking care of herself and her parents for most of her life.

Eleanor (left) talks to Michael (right). Courtesy

The whole selfish mentality and behavior that Eleanor has, made her such a bad person on earth and it stems from her childhood.She never had anyone to be there for her and now she prefers it that way.She never wants to owe anything to anyone and anyone to owe anything to her.After the cut away from her flashback, we return to her talking to Jason and she tells him that she has been using her parents as an excuse for her own behavior too long and it has taken her dying to realize she needs to change her “me first, no matter what” ways. 

This is one of the best written and acted scenes in primetime television that I have seen in a while.This scene changes a lot of how you see Eleanor for the rest of the show and changes the way you saw her at the beginning.

This show is one of the best shows that is on primetime television in recent history.It has a great cast, an amazing set of writers, and so many funny and loveable moments.I cannot wait to see what the next few seasons have in store for our crew.