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May 29, 2018 4:30 PM   Subscribe

The Good Posts: Chapter One -Andrew Hickey kicks off a series of posts about the The Good Place, possibly the best show currently on Television, with a discussion of premise and format.
posted by Artw (99 comments total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
 
(Article and following discussion likely contain spoilers, and gosh you should really watch at least season 1 on Netflix already if you haven't, etc... etc...)
posted by Artw at 4:32 PM on May 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


Absolutely do not watch The Good Place at the same time as reading Iain M. Banks' Surface Detail. It will convince you of some things that are probably not super healthy to believe.


Fork me.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:03 PM on May 29, 2018 [34 favorites]


Shirt, yeah that’d be a mix.
posted by Artw at 5:04 PM on May 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


Speaking of which, there is an official TGP podcast that is hosted by Marc Evan Jackson (Shawn) starting in a few days.
posted by Etrigan at 5:22 PM on May 29, 2018 [12 favorites]


Obligatory fanfare link.
posted by ckape at 5:31 PM on May 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


[4 paragraphs in]
Mmm... I love loooooove TGP so I am super down for this but I'm only a few paragraphs in and it's already been snobbish about all other TV from the last 50 years AND dismissive of the conceptual and structural complexity of Schur's other shows like Parks & Rec. This doesn't just turn into wankery does it? I'm still reading but I'm nervous.

[finished the first post]
Ok that got a bit better, the point about plot pacing is well put. I'm still nervous but we'll see.
posted by Wretch729 at 5:34 PM on May 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


Artw: possibly the best show currently on Television

SF fans just now tuning in, note the two Hugo nominations for the show this year. Both episodes were on my ballot!

From the article: The Good Place may, in fact, be the first comedy series to apply the kind of arc-based storytelling that is usual in soap opera ...

Hm, it's been a long, long time since I've seen it, but uh ....
posted by Wobbuffet at 5:42 PM on May 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


possibly the best show currently on Television

was vaguely aware of it, checked my Netflix list and saw that I'd checked it, just watched the first five minutes of episode one and I laughed*. Thanks.

* the part about the stoner dude from Calgary nailing 92% of the afterlife one night in 1972 while high on shrooms.
posted by philip-random at 6:01 PM on May 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


I love TGP but this reads like a longform riff on that Rick & Morty copypasta
posted by prize bull octorok at 6:01 PM on May 29, 2018 [14 favorites]


Hrmmm, I'm not sure about this. I actually gasped when I saw this because I love The Good Place beyond all reason and I've been wanting some good analysis, but these two bits are sticking in my craw ...

Just on the most basic level, what other TV series can you remember, ever, which has as major plot points the understanding of Kierkegaard or consequentialism?

The Good Place may, in fact, be the first comedy series to apply the kind of arc-based storytelling that is usual in soap opera and superhero comics, which moved to SFF TV in the 1990s, and which has recently become de rigeur in “prestige” TV dramas.

To the first bit - 1. I actually have seen a lot of writing about the show's use of philosophy and 2. it's not what stands out to me about the show's creative ambitions. It's cool they're doing it, but it's a bit heavy-handed at times and it's not nearly as exciting to me as the amazing things they are doing with structure, or the staggeringly good writing, or the intricate running jokes, or the amazing acting.

To the second point - does this guy watch other sitcoms? ALL of the other Michael Schur shows he mentioned have arc-based storytelling. Hell, Friends had arc-based storytelling back in the 90s.

What The Good Place does that is so interesting is, as the author says, reset the premise several times a season. And yet manage to keep character arcs going. And that is really great. But it's not like the "prestige dramas" he mentions are doing that either. It's not just unique to sitcoms, it's unique to TV in general.

I feel like he kind of conflated arc-based storytelling with "being willing to blow up the show's premise," which are somewhat related but not really the same thing at all.

Anyway, I want to read some really good The Good Place analysis, but I'm not sure if this will be it, since he doesn't seem to understand conventions of the form. Don't get me wrong, though, I will definitely keep reading!
posted by lunasol at 6:05 PM on May 29, 2018 [22 favorites]


The Good Place is my second-favorite sitcom of all time, and if it goes as many seasons as Community it might overtake the latter as #1.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:22 PM on May 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


It certainly lulls you into thinking it’s going to be a half hour comedy format where if essentially goes over the same ground again and again rather than having substantial forwards plot motion - an entirely fine format I’d add - and then it’s quite dramatically not that pretty quickly.
posted by Artw at 6:22 PM on May 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


I fell in love with TGP because of the way it eats plots that would take up an entire season in a lesser show for breakfast. Happy to see some analysis, always!
posted by merriment at 6:25 PM on May 29, 2018 [18 favorites]


The "Who died and..." joke is the most brilliant joke that has ever been on TV ever and William Jackson Harper's delivery of his part is perfection.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:28 PM on May 29, 2018 [22 favorites]


Seriously, if you are trying to sell someone on watching The Good Place, get them to watch the first two episodes and if they are not in love with the show after the "Who died and..." exchange then they are a bad person with no taste.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:33 PM on May 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


“You don’t appreciate this beloved sitcom on my level and now I’m going to explain why” sounds like an endless seminar in The Bad Place.

*Bad Janet farts*
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:48 PM on May 29, 2018 [46 favorites]


I love the show but it makes me wonder about the timeline we are on.
posted by sjswitzer at 6:56 PM on May 29, 2018


It's a good show, Brent. 13/10.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:01 PM on May 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


I feel like this show will introduce my kid to basic philosophy the way Bugs Bunny introduced me to classical music. And I'm happy about it.
posted by emjaybee at 7:28 PM on May 29, 2018 [20 favorites]


It's definitely not the only sitcom to regularly delve into philosophical quandaries (Community and Rick and Morty both come quickly to mind, and Adventure Time is definitely no slouch there either) nor the only one with long-running soap-opera type arcs (see: Archer, Bojack Horseman) but it's definitely something unique in being a comedy with this profound central mystery and infinite stakes for its characters that can constantly twist in on itself and still make sense. It does Lost and BSG but as a comedy and with the supposed plotting actually bearing meaningful fruit.

(As a side note, my fiancée had to stop with the show early season one because, while she enjoyed it in general, she can't stand the structure that basically ends with the first scene of the next episode, rather than each just telling their own story. This doesn't bother me at all, but I have repeatedly assured her that Season 2 does this structure much less than Season 2. Because I really want her to love this.)

Michael Schur is easily my favorite creator working in TV right now. Nobody knows better how to make ensembles click and play off in infinite ways, such that even a project with a concept like "woman creates exclusive unlicensed bar in her backyard with rules like 'no cell phones.'" has me excited.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:58 PM on May 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


This is sort of worth consideration to me, not so much with respect to the idea of me watching the show, but with respect to why it hadn't caught my interest and is likely to remain in that category, despite the genre encomiums. There's no afterlife. There never has been, and there never will be. So a marketing pitch for a show which is playful with regard to the concept of the afterlife is profoundly disinteresting to me, as I have a limited time, roughly 50 adult years with about 20 remaining, with which to select which timewasting genre entertainments I will turn my attention to.
posted by mwhybark at 8:19 PM on May 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Like I give a shirt.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:31 PM on May 29, 2018 [11 favorites]


If your standard for shows is that they only exhibit situations that align with our current understanding of reality... Well, that's an approach to media that I cannot comprehend.
posted by sagc at 8:32 PM on May 29, 2018 [25 favorites]


Wait what? I just rewatched both seasons on Sunday. (Don’t judge me.) What excellent timing!
posted by greermahoney at 8:35 PM on May 29, 2018


I don’t feel like this covered any ground that I haven’t seen in Vulture recaps and in FanFare. I’m all about some TGP analysis, but this could do with a less self-congratulatory tone and a better understanding of what others are saying about the show and how it compares to other shows.

That said, still appreciate the link and I'll follow to see if the style calms down a bit.
posted by jeoc at 8:36 PM on May 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


There's no afterlife. There never has been, and there never will be.

Yeah, I don’t believe in any afterlife either. I’m a big fan of fantasy, though. I watch shows for escapism, so the further from reality they are, the better they work for me.
posted by greermahoney at 8:38 PM on May 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


TGP is about the afterlife in the same way that Parks & Rec is about running a parks department. By which I mean: it's not really about that.
posted by suelac at 8:45 PM on May 29, 2018 [29 favorites]


There's no afterlife

If the afterlife motif is a dealbreaker for you, it's certainly there in every episode of the show and it's fine as a reason to pass it by. It's also not something they dwell on as if it offers real meaning, and I think you could pretty plausibly interpret its effects as allegories for life instead. I can't offhand recall if this spoils very much, but the afterlife stuff is absurd, sort of ambiguous, tends to pull the rug out from under you, leaves individuals feeling like there's a lot they don't control, and so on. And the show definitely spends a lot of time revisiting the character's actual lives, reflecting on their circumstances and the choices they made, and generally (somehow without preaching or moralizing about it--or if so, poking fun at that too) considering what it is to live well.
posted by Wobbuffet at 8:50 PM on May 29, 2018


Only Doug Forcett knows for sure.
posted by Artw at 8:50 PM on May 29, 2018 [20 favorites]


I think maybe my terseness is problematic above. I love genre, specifically SF, SFF, and fantasy, with a weak cutout against horror in general. So my big show right now is The Expanse, has been GoT, Trek, etc. I am currently rereading LeGuin's Earthsea books, which are delightful.

What I'm trying to parse out in my own head is my dismissive response to certain uses of religious themes in genre. Afterlife appears to be one: vampires, zombies, heaven, hell, the simulation: I'm just not hooked. Superheroes also often disinterest me, although not to the degree that the preceding do.

I also have a broadly antipathic response to religious themes in genre, although this appears to be limited to certain styles of television, most notably, and most analytically discussed by me online (here, in FanFare) with regard to DS9. Out of genre, for example in Karl Dreyer's silent Joan of Arc or Marty's The Mission, I am more accepting of the theme. I suspect this may be a boundary-policing response on my behalf, and that is something that i am interested in understanding more clearly.

So to try to be as explicit as I can, I am NOT saying "your favorite show sucks." I am saying "your favorite show's premise is not appealing to me, and I am bemused by this."
posted by mwhybark at 8:54 PM on May 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh let's just say some people don't want to watch the show and leave it at that. It's totally fine to have things you want to like but don't, or your friends want you to like but you don't, or whatever. If your time is truly so limited then don't bother even starting a derail.
posted by Monochrome at 8:55 PM on May 29, 2018 [24 favorites]


My name is Mister Fabulous and I think I might be a monster. I'm arrogant. I'm a massive underachiever. I once managed to make my high school's entire varsity cheerleading team burst into tears all at once. Then I got awfully high one night and started watching this show. And from now on I'm going to try to become a better, kinder, more generous person.

Snark aside, all of the above is true (the cheerleaders crying was 18 years ago in my junior year). I found this show while in a deep funk after the election, and it's royally forked with my head ever since. I'm an atheist who doesn't consider an after life to exist, but after watching TGP, I've been driven to improve myself in a way I hadn't been before. It's a jarring feeling, and my conscience has been back in full force. As a result, I've been watching my diet, losing a small child's worth of weight. I regularly volunteer now. I've been reading Kant. I'm genuinely considering a significant pay cut to work for a non-profit. Anyways, I think this show may have changed me. Basically, if the whole world is going to go to shit, I don't care any more. I'm going to be a better person.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:02 PM on May 29, 2018 [68 favorites]



Only Doug Forcett knows for sure.


actually, only 92 percent for sure
posted by philip-random at 9:05 PM on May 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


TGP is about the afterlife in the same way that Parks & Rec is about running a parks department. By which I mean: it's not really about that.

It's kind of in same place where I keep having mild arguments with a friend who loves Pressburger and Powell, but has never watched A Matter of Life and Death because of all that "angels and heaven" stuff.
posted by lagomorphius at 9:06 PM on May 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


What I'm trying to parse out in my own head is my dismissive response to certain uses of religious themes in genre. Afterlife appears to be one: vampires, zombies, heaven, hell, the simulation: I'm just not hooked.

I haven't watched much of Black Mirror, which I keep hearing is amazing. But the most recent episode I dug into (pretty much randomly) lost me very suddenly about fifteen minutes in ... when it's premise became clear. Which I won't get into, just to say, I Did Not Buy It At All. So much so that it jarred me from something I'd been pretty much engrossed in, and I just stopped watching. Because the premise was working the sort of concept that ...

is profoundly disinteresting to me, as I have a limited time,

So yeah, I get it. I don't agree with you on The Good Place, but the older I get, the more invested I become in noticing when/if I'm personally just not the target market for something. I also gave up on Breaking Bad very suddenly a few episodes into Season Three. No regrets.
posted by philip-random at 9:16 PM on May 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


I’ve never believed in the afterlife but I believe this is the best comedy in network TV, and probably TV in general. For those who dislike religion, it turns out it’s a show about the afterlife that has little to no religious aspect at all (except for the basic premise of good people are rewarded and bad people are punished).

Janet is the best sitcom character of our era and it’s crazy that this is Jameela Jamil’s first real acting job. Since Fox cancelled Last Man on Earth and the Mick in one swoop this is the only network sitcom I have left! I can’t imagine this premise lasting very long before the creators decide to tie it off, but I’m happy with what we’ve gotten so far.
posted by ejs at 9:18 PM on May 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


There's no afterlife. There never has been, and there never will be.

I agree with you. That's why it's up for two Hugo Awards--it's fantasy.

And (since you're not watching, and anyone reading this far down must know to expect spoilers), the final episode of season two literally had a demon arguing with a Judge Eternal that everything Christianity says about the afterlife is 100% wrong.

Now, we're told up front in S1E1 that, in this universe, none of the major religions were right about the afterlife, so you might be wondering why a character reiterating that fact should have me so astounded. But there's a difference between having the Doug Forcett stoner joke in there, and having one of the major characters of the show--a demon no less--state that rewarding "good" people and punishing "bad" people after they die is a crock of shit and that they need to change how they do things. To me, that was calling out the Church's teachings, and I was thrilled and amazed.

The only way they could have gotten away with it is that they're a silly sitcom and nobody at NBC's Standards and Practices thought too hard about what was being said.
posted by tzikeh at 9:25 PM on May 29, 2018 [18 favorites]


and having one of the major characters of the show--a demon no less--state that rewarding "good" people and punishing "bad" people after they die is a crock of shit and that they need to change how they do things

I have early and mid-20’s nieces. They are more Christian than anyone else in my family, and lemme tell ya, that’s saying something in the Mahoney household. They LOVE TGP. I may be deluding myself, but I hope that the show is making them think about the absurdity of a heaven/hell afterlife.
posted by greermahoney at 10:02 PM on May 29, 2018 [11 favorites]


There's no afterlife. There never has been, and there never will be. So a marketing pitch for a show which is playful with regard to the concept of the afterlife is profoundly disinteresting to me, as I have a limited time, roughly 50 adult years with about 20 remaining, with which to select which timewasting genre entertainments I will turn my attention to.

I 100% agree. People (mostly Metafilter) kept mentioning and recommending it, but a show about the afterlife does not appeal to me. It might be really well written, but it just does not appeal to my sensibilities. I can not stand an entertainment set in the "real world" that relies on a psychic/ghost/angel plot twist. I can, however, enjoy fantasy or sci-fi set in a different reality.

Anyway, a cynical atheist friend of mine (Metafilter?) told me to just watch it already and it's pretty great. It's not a religiousy show, it's a fish out of water story. The characters are well written and it's funny. It's not preachy and it doesn't ask you to buy into the premise in real life. I don't think that it's anyone's actual version of the afterlife, so it's not really trying to sell you anything if you skip the commercials.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:18 PM on May 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


The show isn't about the afterlife: it about whether or not it is (epistemo)logically coherent to categorize a person as good or bad, and, further, whether a consistent position can be made in which one can both claim "no, it is not possible to categorize people as good or bad " and resist a nihilism which devalues all ethics and morality.

For a country with an outrageous incarceration rate, politics abounding in militant anti-terrorism rhetoric, and an attachment to the death penalty— the discussion is timely.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:29 PM on May 29, 2018 [72 favorites]


mwhybark, one more thing. As a person who refused to watch it and was later seduced, I was able to binge 2 seasons without waiting for next week's episode.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:43 PM on May 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


ha ha nice, ATG. Also thanks to all of you for your rummages here. I certainly do understand now how my post could be a derail but I did not intend or understand it to be so.
posted by mwhybark at 11:02 PM on May 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I was just trying to figure out how to articulate more or less what TwelveTwo wrote when along came that fine little summary.


I almost hate to erode the tidiness of its impact even by elaborating more. But I think that the show perhaps is indeed additionally trying to explore what heaven or hell are. Which makes it sound like it's about the afterlife again, and it's clear that's not some people's cup of tea.

But the thing about that is that maybe the afterlife isn't even really all about the afterlife. Yes, many of us don't really want to die and you could argue that on a number of levels the idea of afterlife exists because it's hard to come to grips with ceasing to exist conceptually or emotionally. But you could also conceive of the afterlife as a shorthand for the idea that eventually there's going to be enough of you and your life set by your choices that a steady state is more likely than any change. And at that point -- whether you think of it as middle age or post-mortality -- there's the question of whether that existence will be largely defined by suffering or whether it'll be something worth savoring, and we're at hell and heaven even before we've brought the concept of an anthropomorphic deity and persona judgment into the picture.

This kind of ground is well-trodden theologically and maybe even in entertainment, but TGP is doing a great job serving as an introduction and also adding to the canon. Michael's effort to make a hell entirely out of people's flaws and expectations rather than the more mundane malevolent treatment... fails!. Why?

Because, honestly, Michael's plan is a pretty good plan, if hell is indeed other people and inside of you and all that. But maybe that's potentially one of the things being challenged/explored here -- not just the cruel and/or bureaucratic vision of an afterlife organized around the inflexible decree of a deified version of Lakoff's "Strong Father", which is the usual kind of thing that present-day folks like ourselves tend to think is unfair, but the accuracy and limits of this idea of hell being something we make for ourselves. And when and under what circumstances we might find a way to work with others -- other poor, blinkered people with their own blind spots and moral handicaps -- to circumvent or transcend hell. Or maybe even work with one or two of the devils themselves?
posted by wildblueyonder at 11:29 PM on May 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


Hmmmm. I keep hearing people compare this to Community and Parks & Recreation, both of which I really, really enjoyed. Maybe I'll have to check this out after all, especially since Arrested Development season 5 is apparently not available in Japan?
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:33 PM on May 29, 2018


Yeah, what fascinated me from the first episode was ... well ... there's a growing religious category called "the Nones", which is "no religious affiliation" but not necessarily atheist. A lot of them would use the phrase "spiritual but not religious." Meaning that a lot of people sense, on some level, that organized religion is full of shit. But they also, on some level, believe the stuff they were taught as a kid about how the world works...

Let me back up. There's a real moral challenge that comes when someone who's grown up in a church tradition, even peripherally, suddenly rejects it. Because they had a framework for right and wrong, and now they don't. And in a way, society as a whole is going through that, as Christian structures have slowly lost their moral authority and credibility over the last, I'm gonna say, 300 years, but more importantly the last 50 years.

So a lot of people are living in the uncomfortable space, where they used to have an external moral authority to look to, and now they don't - and all of the moral authorities keep disappointing us - so the only thing you can rely on is your own moral understanding. And it would be really, really nice if morality was as simple as numbers. That would make it so easy.

The first premise of TGP is to give you that fantasy - that it really is that easy. You can go back to your childhood understanding, of good and bad, and heaven and hell. And if you had sleepless nights worrying about right and wrong, you don't have to worry anymore. It soothes this ... moral anxiety.

The first episode alone is really, really effective at tapping into this big moral challenge. It's like ... The message I got from it, as metaphor, was like - "It's okay. You're trying to be a good person - we get it - and it really is hard. It's not just you. The questions that keep you up at night are the same questions that people have been struggling with for centuries. We can learn from them, and we can learn from each other."

It has almost nothing to do with religion. It's explicitly about finding out way in the absence of religion. Or, perhaps, it's about making religion better? Idunno.

Anyway that's not even the opinion I wanted to share, because actually my opinion is that I DON'T LIKE the way the show dumps its premises!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Like at the end of season 1, they literally throw out all the character growth from the whole season! I don't like that! And revealing that SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER also ruins a lot of the themes of the season, because all of Eleanor's actions suddenly don't matter. All their moral weight is gone. AND ALSO the metaphor of this woman of color suffering in hell so this white girl could be in heaven was HELLA FKN ON POINT as a metaphor and that was ruined too. And the direction they took in season 2 I thought was just kinda okay. That is the opinion I have, thank you for your time
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 11:35 PM on May 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


Regardless of your feelings on the afterlife (as a data point, I'm agnostic verging on atheist and love the show), you should watch at the very least for the way the show explains/illustrates the trolley problem.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:33 AM on May 30, 2018 [7 favorites]


this weird religion derail is like that time early on in game of thrones show threads on the blue where someone was like "i don't watch the show bc i hate steampunk" and it turned out they had only ever seen the opening credits
posted by poffin boffin at 1:46 AM on May 30, 2018 [45 favorites]


[Yes, let's please drop the "but there's no afterlife!" derail.]
posted by taz (staff) at 4:35 AM on May 30, 2018 [14 favorites]


(Game of Thrones absolutely IS set in a Dyson sphere tho, the same on Westworld is set in)
posted by Artw at 5:16 AM on May 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


What about Macumber's giant blue eye?
posted by elsietheeel at 5:30 AM on May 30, 2018


True, but they got it inside out, and it’s a space whale.
posted by Artw at 5:34 AM on May 30, 2018


a nihilism which devalues all ethics and morality.

but not cocaine
posted by PMdixon at 5:35 AM on May 30, 2018 [9 favorites]


And when and under what circumstances we might find a way to work with others -- other poor, blinkered people with their own blind spots and moral handicaps -- to circumvent or transcend hell. Or maybe even work with one or two of the devils themselves?

It's interesting to compare and contrast Lucifer's depiction of hell vs what is in TGP. Michael's neighborhood and Lucifer's hell are both predicated on torturing oneself for the most part and both show at different points that others can helo to break the spell, so to speak.

I don't know that they make for a good religious or moral framework, but it's still interesting and entertaining ground that they cover.
posted by wierdo at 5:42 AM on May 30, 2018


My favorite joke of the first season:

In hell, they do karaoke readings of Nixon tapes when he is ranting about minorities.

History lesson and a joke.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:50 AM on May 30, 2018 [13 favorites]


My favorite joke of the first season:

In hell, they do karaoke readings of Nixon tapes when he is ranting about minorities.


It really is hard to exaggerate about how good the jokes on The Good Place are
posted by dis_integration at 6:09 AM on May 30, 2018 [8 favorites]


TwelveTwo, I wish I could favorite your comment about 80,000 times.

Thanks.
posted by allthinky at 6:10 AM on May 30, 2018


One of the things I like most about the show is how subversive its core message about the afterlife is. If there really was a heaven and hell, and most of the people you knew didn't make the grade and were being tortured for all eternity, how could you possibly enjoy heaven?
posted by simonw at 7:07 AM on May 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


I mean, my son and I are on the third book of His Dark Materials, which is written by a hardcore atheist and yet is one of the most profoundly religious series I've ever read. Because it takes the themes of eternity, power, souls, love and corruption seriously, and explores them, and then has a thoroughly sinful and selfish person become the literal harrower of Hell (spoilers?) and all-around accidental (from her POV) Messiah.

I mean, you can definitely pick it apart (and I do! Especially after reading Dust!) but as a former Christian it reminds me of what I found so compelling...and problematic...about the Christian story in the beginning.

In the same way that cynics can be disillusioned optimists, I think some atheists are people who truly wanted to believe, or did once believe, and whose anger stems from the ways the beautiful ideas of religion hid the ugliness at the roots.

Which is different from being an atheist because you always found the whole religion thing offputting or absurd.
posted by emjaybee at 7:10 AM on May 30, 2018 [6 favorites]


I started watching on a friend's recommendation but quit when they introduced Eleanor's soulmate. "I know where this is going," I thought, my social anxiety and imposter syndrome in full force. My friend told me to power through and my god I love this show.
posted by LarsC at 7:16 AM on May 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


It really is hard to exaggerate about how good the jokes on The Good Place are

Please don't forget Megan Amram's list of restaurant names.

Absolutely brilliant.

Oh and hey phillip-random....

the part about the stoner dude from Calgary nailing 92% of the afterlife one night in 1972 while high on shrooms.

Here's the meta-joke: That portrait of Doug Forcett in Michael's office is Michael Schur, the show's creator.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:34 AM on May 30, 2018 [8 favorites]


The Good Place wiki claims Doug Forcett is Noah Garfinkel.
posted by simonw at 7:38 AM on May 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


From the article: The Good Place may, in fact, be the first comedy series to apply the kind of arc-based storytelling that is usual in soap opera ...

Hm, it's been a long, long time since I've seen it, but uh .... [link to wiki on Soap]

Mary Hartmann, Mary Hartmann predates Soap, and is also a comedy series that uses the soap opera style arcs.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:39 AM on May 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


Seriously? Awww man....
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:40 AM on May 30, 2018


The second episode of season 2 (Dance Dance Resolution, the one with something of a Groundhog Day flair to it) is my absolute favourite ever episode of a 22 minute sitcom. I watched it three times the week it was released. That's where the restaurant puns linked above came from, but it has a whole season's worth of excellent jokes crammed into just the one episode (the restaurant puns are on screen for probably less than 10 seconds).
posted by simonw at 7:42 AM on May 30, 2018 [6 favorites]


I keep hearing people compare this to Community and Parks & Recreation, both of which I really, really enjoyed.
I don't think it's as good as either of those shows and often thought individual SuperStore episodes were funnier, but it's pretty good. I think its the really small cast and fewer supporting characters as to why I don't like it as much as the others.

The Trolley Problem episode really destroyed that ridiculous question and Jason just wanting to firebomb and Blake Bortles through the world is great.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:07 AM on May 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Don't do this to me, we still have to wait until, like, October to find out how the heck they are going to get Jason to meet up with the other three because I can't see him in Australia and I can't imagine Tahani in Florida.
posted by maryr at 8:09 AM on May 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


A couple weeks ago (the day B99 was canceled) the topics at the head of the Washington Post website looked like this:

In the News: Starbucks - H.R. McMaster - Waffle House - Southwest pilot - Yale - Dinosaurs - Officer fired - FCC fine - Niger report - 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - Iran - Blake Bortles - 76ers

I can't see Blake Bortles' name without laughing, so I remain convinced that headline was an in-joke from God to make Mike Schur feel better about canceling B99.

And then it got un-canceled! Mysterious ways, my friends. Mysterious ways.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:18 AM on May 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


jake jortles is my new go-to fake name for online signups
posted by poffin boffin at 9:01 AM on May 30, 2018 [18 favorites]


i love The Good Place but also i definitely want to strangle everyone who uses its substitute swears when discussing it
posted by beerperson at 9:06 AM on May 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


beerperson, stop being such a motherforking bench. That is bullshirt and you know it.

sorry, i really am sorry, i can't help myself in these kinds of situations
posted by cooker girl at 9:21 AM on May 30, 2018 [17 favorites]


Being unable to curse except in lame near-curses should have clued them in that it was hell.
posted by emjaybee at 9:34 AM on May 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Per the wiki the swear filter may contain another clue.
posted by Artw at 9:49 AM on May 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


A good friend of mine is a philosophy professor specializing in ethics, and I am agonizingly stuck between urging her to watch it and refraining because her response would be DEAR GOD DON'T BE THE MILLIONTH IDIOT TO TELL ME ABOUT IT IT'S FINE I HAVE MY RESERVATIONS FOR REASONS I WON'T ELABORATE ON AS PPL DON'T REALLY CARE AND IT MAKES ME CRAVE THE SWEET RELEASE OF DEATH WHICH YES, I GET THE IRONY
posted by sapere aude at 12:15 PM on May 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


It's an occupational hazard in philosophy.
posted by rhizome at 12:30 PM on May 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


This is why everybody hates moral philosophy professors.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:57 PM on May 30, 2018 [27 favorites]


The Good Posts: Chapter 2
posted by Artw at 1:38 PM on May 30, 2018


My 5-second pitch of the show: It's a profoundly-optimistic comedy about bad people trying in earnest to be better, and often succeeding.

I haven't felt this way about any form of comedy since Terry Pratchett's passing.
posted by schmod at 1:58 PM on May 30, 2018 [9 favorites]


update i sent a group text to everyone i know whose name begins with the letter S urging them to legally change their name to Snake Snortles and everyone is mad at me now
posted by poffin boffin at 4:34 PM on May 30, 2018 [14 favorites]


METAFILTER: the "but there's no afterlife!" derail.]
posted by philip-random at 5:16 PM on May 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: That is bullshirt and you know it.
posted by XtinaS at 8:09 PM on May 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


Wow. That chapter 2 post was good!
posted by greermahoney at 11:22 PM on May 30, 2018


To the second point - does this guy watch other sitcoms? ALL of the other Michael Schur shows he mentioned have arc-based storytelling. Hell, Friends had arc-based storytelling back in the 90s.

I know Andrew and he's a big Doctor Who fan. Yet to read this blog (reading stuff your friends write is always fraught with danger) but I think he will be coming at this from a different angle to the likes of Splitsider and Sepinwall.
posted by mippy at 4:21 AM on May 31, 2018


Mary Hartmann, Mary Hartmann predates Soap, and is also a comedy series that uses the soap opera style arcs.

Didn't run in the UK. I watched some of it recently out of curiosity - which was a pain to do, as it's not available on any physical format here - and almost nobody seems to have heard of it. Granted, it came out long before I was born, but a lot of people here are familiar with US sitcoms if they are into TV. It was annoying, as I have no idea what to make of it at all and there's nobody to discuss it with! I'm not even quite sure it was a sitcom, it was so off-kilter.

I rarely run into people who know Murphy Brown or Newsradio either, as they just weren't really shown here. Seinfeld got shunted off into the scheduling hinterlands while Friends was a massive prime time C4 show, but DVDs mean most Brits have some familiarity with it.
posted by mippy at 4:27 AM on May 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


Seinfeld got shunted off into the scheduling hinterlands while Friends was a massive prime time C4 show, but DVDs mean most Brits have some familiarity with it.
Observation from living in the UK circa 2008: Seinfeld and Arrested Development do not mesh at all with British comedic sensibilities, whereas Friends is pretty popular.

This had nothing to do with TV scheduling. Friends was pretty popular before it went into syndication, whereas the other two shows barely solicit a chuckle from most Brits (even in spite of Britain's glut of misanthropic comedies in the aughts).

I suppose it wasn't entirely fair to lump the two shows together. They were both set in NYC, and aired around the same time. That was pretty much it.

In hindsight, Seinfeld aged suddenly and terribly here, and it's going to be pretty difficult for me to enjoy Arrested Development from now on -- many of the gags were genuinely great, but the cracks are also rather suddenly starting to show.
posted by schmod at 6:49 AM on May 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


Every time this show is up for discussion I feel like everyone else saw an alternative universe version of the show where it's all of the things people seem to say and like about it. It feels pointless to even go into why I thought it was such a horrible show so I won't, I just cannot recall ever having this kind of dissonance with a show.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:25 AM on May 31, 2018


Seinfeld and Arrested Development do not mesh at all with British comedic sensibilities

Bollocks - AD is massive here thanks to Netflix. It wasn't shown on a major terrestrial channel so few saw it until DVD box sets and later streaming became a thing. It gets quoted in my office a lot.

Friends had the 8pm Friday night slot on Channel 4 throughout the nineties, which was the premier comedy slot (up against The Fast Show on BBC2 which was a cultural phenomenon, and next to Frasier). It was huge from the start here. Some US shows were satellite/cable only - like The Simpsons until the mid-90s - which relatively few people had. Stuff like Just Shoot Me, Seinfeld etc. ended up running on Paramount Comedy. Also, it seemed to be constantly running on E4 in the 00s. It was a common joke that you could switch the TV on at any point and find an episode running.

I do find it amusing that people born in the 90s are apparently so into Friends now - I would have thought it would have dated badly. We have been rewatching Seinfeld and to someone who barely remembers the decade it must look like the 50s did to me when I was 13.
posted by mippy at 8:53 AM on May 31, 2018 [5 favorites]


Coupling had arcs, though they weren't constantly emphasized.

("it's about...choices!")
posted by praemunire at 9:21 AM on May 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


I do find it amusing that people born in the 90s are apparently so into Friends now

Wait til you hear about Hall & Oates.
posted by rhizome at 9:29 AM on May 31, 2018 [4 favorites]


rewatching Seinfeld and to someone who barely remembers the decade it must look like the 50s did to me when I was 13.

my twenty-four year old nephew rates it as the greatest TV show ever, so there's that. I remember being a little kid in the 1960s watching I Love Lucy reruns and loving them, so I guess comedy can age well, as long as it's not too current-event specific. More focused on manners and overall absurdity.

I do find it amusing that people born in the 90s are apparently so into Friends now

Wait til you hear about Hall & Oates.


The Kids Are All Wrong.
posted by philip-random at 9:41 AM on May 31, 2018


More focused on manners and overall absurdity.

I recently binge watched It's Garry Shandling's Show and I think the first 2 seasons hold up for similar reasons as well (aside from references to the golden age of TV comedy [namely TV Garry watched when he was a kid]). But yes comedy is hard and can date rather quickly - I can't watch either Friends or Seinfeld now (not that I was a big fan of them previously).
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:07 AM on May 31, 2018


It was annoying, as I have no idea what to make of it at all and there's nobody to discuss it with! I'm not even quite sure it was a sitcom, it was so off-kilter.

It is definitely a comedy but it is very much locked into American soap opera tropes of an earlier era rather than the British equivalent (say Coronation Street) so I'm not sure it really translates. There's also its spin-off series Fernwood 2 Night & America 2-Night which might be equally mystifying. Brits have chat shows but do or did they have the very regional cable access type variety/chat shows that these shows are spoofing? They might have had them once upon a time but now? I think most younger audiences would look at these series and think "what are these things?"
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:20 AM on May 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


I know Andrew and he's a big Doctor Who fan. Yet to read this blog (reading stuff your friends write is always fraught with danger) but I think he will be coming at this from a different angle to the likes of Splitsider and Sepinwall.

I'm so curious about what this means!
posted by lunasol at 3:42 PM on May 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


Despite my skepticism, I liked the first analysis post. The point about Janet having her identity imposed on her is super interesting, and the question about souls made me stop and think for a minute.
posted by lunasol at 3:44 PM on May 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


I do find it amusing that people born in the 90s are apparently so into Friends now

A relevant article--a little surprising to me, at least--from El País this week: "The Friends frenzy reached a peak when sisters Fátima and Cristina Arenas, 20 and 19, recreated the scene where Chandler proposes to Monica in the living room [...] 'The series is part of the culture of every country, and it passes from generation to generation, exploring themes that are still relevant today and have aged well.'"
posted by Wobbuffet at 7:47 PM on May 31, 2018


Watched the first two episodes. Love it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:11 PM on May 31, 2018


Is Chidi really coded as autistic, as per the new post? I see him as an intellectual with a comedy-level amount of indecision. He's good with social cues, he doesn't appear to have any sensory processing issues.

I do like the points about who is being honest, and Janet not really being seen correctly by the other characters. In the first few episodes even Michael tries to turn her into an assistant.
posted by harriet vane at 2:34 AM on June 1, 2018


If anything, I'd say he seems coded as someone with an absurdist version of an anxiety disorder? I can certainly identify with his indecision, coming from that perspective. I certainly don't see him being coded as autistic in the text of the show.
posted by sagc at 12:40 PM on June 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Nah, I don't get any coded autistic from Chidi. ADD from Jason, on the other hand....
posted by tzikeh at 7:39 PM on June 1, 2018


Heh. The Good Posts: Chapter 3 gets salty with us.
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on June 12, 2018 [5 favorites]


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