Review: Season 1 of The Good Place

Ted Danson, Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Manny Jacinto, Jameela Jamil, and D'Arcy Carden in The Good Place

The Good Place is a half hour comedy series on NBC about ethics in the afterlife. That sentence probably doesn’t compute, but this series explores the idea of what makes a good person with a lot of quotes from Plato, Kant, and other moral philosophers thrown into the mix. But that’s not all. It’s funny, too.

Kristen Bell plays Eleanor. She was a terrible, awful, horrible, unkind drunk person during her life. Somehow after her death she ended up by mistake in the good place, not the bad place.

Ted Danson plays Michael, the archangel, er, I mean the architect of the particular neighborhood in the good place where Eleanor ends up. Michael doesn’t know Eleanor is a fake.

William Jackson Harper and Kristen Bell in The Good Place
Luckily, or perhaps sadly, for Eleanor, her soulmate is a professor of ethics

Michael assigns everyone a home with their soulmate. Eleanor’s is Chidi (William Jackson Harper), a professor of ethics. Chidi attempts to teach Eleanor how to be a better person. She learns, despite her snarky attempts not to learn.

Jameela Jamil and Manny Jacinto in The Good Place
What happens when the most talkative woman in the world is soulmates with a silent monk?

In a mansion next to Eleanor live Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and her soulmate Jianyu (Manny Jacinto). Tahini is seemingly perfect at being good and helping people. Jianyu seems to be a silent monk.

Don’t expect things to be what they seem in the good place.

D'Arcy Carden and Ted Danson in The Good Place
Can Janet understand emotion or she merely imitating human behavior?

The other main character is Janet (D’Arcy Carden). Janet is not human, not a robot, not a computer. It isn’t clear what she is but she knows everything and pops up whenever you say her name. Google on legs, but more attractive and a huge scene stealer.

I didn’t watch this series live. I started it on Netflix and watched all 13 episodes of season 1 in a single weekend. Season 2 starts Sept. 20 on NBC. I may have to amend my “no half-hour comedy” rule to include season 2 in my live viewing. I already broke my “no half-hour comedy” rule for the sake of Younger. My moral dilemma now is, do I actually have a “no half-hour comedy” rule?

It is clever, original, funny, and fraught with perplexing moral choices. The actors are fabulous at their parts. The sets and scenery are beautiful. The special effects work. There’s no laugh track – a heavenly blessing right there. The twist at the end of season 1 promises and equally clever and original season 2.

If you want to explore what it means to be a good person with a delightful cast and a clever premise, give The Good Place a look. Here’s a season 2 promo.

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