What We Owe to Each Other
October 9, 2018 2:29 PM   Subscribe

"If 'Seinfeld' was a show about nothing, 'The Good Place' is a show about everything — including, and especially, growing and learning. By all rights, it should probably be awful — preachy, awkward, tedious, wooden, labored and out of touch. Instead, it is excellent: a work of popular art that hits on many levels at once. It has been not only critically acclaimed but also widely watched, especially on streaming services, where its twists and intricate jokes lend themselves to bingeing and rebingeing." posted by lunasol (77 comments total) 75 users marked this as a favorite
 
Such a great show.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:29 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]


I'm a sucker for a redemption arc, which is great, since the show is apparently interested in redeeming all of humanity this season.
posted by brecc at 2:34 PM on October 9 [15 favorites]


I find this one of the first shows I've watched that really operates like an Internet world. The scores, Janet, the algorithmic work on the suitable afterlife for all. I'm enjoying it a lot.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:37 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


I've been saving the new episodes for Friday, and let me tell you, these last two Fridays it has been so, so nice to be able to come home and watch The Good Place.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:39 PM on October 9 [8 favorites]


We're watching on a 1 year delay (wife needs subtitles, which only Netflix provides). So we just recently saw season 2 and are on the 1 year wait for season 3....
posted by thefoxgod at 3:05 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


This show. This show is what I need right now.

I've had a lot of things go on in my personal life (and let's face it, in the world) that have touched on a lot of the issues and concepts this show brings up -- mostly the idea of "goodness" and what that means. I like to think I'm a good person, but I could be better. I'm not sure what that means.

But I know several of us have faced these issues lately, and we've absolutely become stronger -- and better -- together.
posted by darksong at 3:08 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]


It should be noted that the Good Place episode "The Trolley Problem" won a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. Meaning it's been recognized by the oldest and one of the highest awards for F&SF.

Among other short works, it beat out "Michael's Gambit". So it was in good company.
posted by happyroach at 3:08 PM on October 9 [27 favorites]


thefoxgood, NBC doesn't provide subtitles for Hulu? Seems like they lose a lot of points for that!
posted by lunasol at 3:08 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


Season 2 just came out on Canadian Netflix and my wife and I burned through it at an embarrassingly quick pace. I love this show so much.
posted by arcticwoman at 3:08 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


thefoxgood, NBC doesn't provide subtitles for Hulu?

Sorry, I should have specified we are waiting for Japanese subtitles :) Hulu only does English (and maybe Spanish?). Netflix does a much wider array of subtitles due to being launched in many countries (vs USA-only Hulu).
posted by thefoxgod at 3:19 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]


This show is not always laugh-out-loud funny, but I always walk away feeling happier.
posted by praemunire at 3:20 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


Although, in Season 2 a couple of episodes were missing Japanese subtitles. But all episodes had Japanese dub. So I watched about 3 episodes with Japanese audio, which was... interesting. The big letdown was Jason, the Japanese VA did not capture his way of speaking at all :)
posted by thefoxgod at 3:20 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


I like this show a lot but with every passing season it feels more and more claustrophobic. Let these poor souls have the sweet release of ontological annihilation already, jeez
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:22 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]


"no jerks" rule is good. i try to have one of those for my life. i guess the negative consequence of that is that when i have to deal with jerks i am really bad at it.

this is a good piece and a great show and it makes my world a little better.
posted by capnsue at 3:29 PM on October 9


George Costanza: I've got a great name for our kids. Seven.

Susan Ross: Holy motherforking shirtballs...

Spoilers?Now that I think about it, the main cast of Seinfeld and the TGP crew pre-death were somewhat similar.

posted by Query at 3:37 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]


The Good Place: The Podcast (which is delightful)

I've raved here about the podcast before, but let me second this. It's an episode-by-episode recap where each episode is also an hour-long interview with (usually) two people from the staff on the show; recommended if you like the show, listening to nice people, learning how TV is made, and/or the dulcet tones of host Marc Evan Jackson ("I play... Shawn").
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 3:42 PM on October 9 [15 favorites]


The podcast is like an almost real-time oral history, which is especially exciting now that it’s actually caught up to production and is contemporary with each new episode. And it makes me swoon over what an amazing workplace those folks have.
posted by padraigin at 3:53 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


Listening to the podcast made me start fantasizing about how I could plot a career change that would allow me to work with Michael Schur ... until I realized I should probably focus my efforts on finding a boss like him in my current, not-at-all-related career.

But it's a great testament to how a really good, kind, talented boss can create a whole work culture that is decent to the people who work there AND produces something of amazing quality. It's not either/or.
posted by lunasol at 4:27 PM on October 9 [9 favorites]


“Best joke wins” can translate into any industry. You just need that support from top down.
posted by padraigin at 4:29 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


I'm sitting in an airport right now on a long layover, made even longer by a 2 hour delay in flight #2, and the only thing that makes it slightly better is that I can get caught up on The Good Place. On the other hand, the wifi buffers every 5 seconds, which makes this decidedly a Medium Place experience.
posted by basalganglia at 4:29 PM on October 9 [24 favorites]


Love The Good Place (and the podcast) but the bad Australian accents this season are making it tough.
posted by retrograde at 4:33 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


I love the show, I love the podcast, I loved the article. For me, one of the effects of the 2016 election is that I really only want to engage with media that shows nice, kind people being genuine with each other because the rest of the world seems kinda crappy. The Good Place absolutely hits this sweet spot for me.

From the end of the article, Mike Schur says

I don’t want to spoil anything, but in the third season the characters get to a point where they have a choice. Do you give up or do you try? And they decide to try. And that is what the whole season is like. We’ll keep trying as long as we can. We’ll keep trying. No one is perfect. No one will ever win the race to be the best person. It’s impossible. But, especially since starting this show, I just think everyone should try harder. Including me

Like, that's pretty great. It's exactly why I watch the show.

If you want to listen to more Mike Schur, try the podcast The Poscast he does with affable ports dude Joe Posnanski. There are archives going back a year or two. It's nominally about sports, but each episode they do a ridiculous, silly faux draft of sandwiches or letters of the alphabet or whatever, which takes up most of the time, and it's the most charming thing ever. I am not a sports person but I listen every time there's a new one.
posted by charmedimsure at 4:35 PM on October 9 [8 favorites]


Wonderful to have an entertaining show in the middle of the vast wasteland that exposes the audience to philosophy and ethics. I only ever took one college course in philosophy, but it was also the only one that made me feel like I was using my cerebrum for what it was made for. I hope someone comes up with a sitcom that similarly entertains by demonstrating logic and critical thinking in everyday life. Mythbusters doesn't count.

Danson is great as Michael; however am I the only one that sees Michael as maybe having been originally written for Craig Ferguson?
posted by zaixfeep at 4:48 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]


The one-two viewings of season three of The Good Place and season nine of The Great British Bake Off are pretty much the only media I'm consuming at the moment. Oh, and The Good Place podcast, of course.

Kind people doing kind things for each other for no other reason than that it's the right thing to do. That is the bar.
posted by tzikeh at 4:54 PM on October 9 [12 favorites]


George Carlin would be miserable in The Good Place. Shirt, priss, fork, quant, corksucker, motherforker, and tips.
posted by zaixfeep at 5:01 PM on October 9 [16 favorites]


George Carlin would be miserable in The Good Place.

Are you kidding? That man LOVED language and what it could do. He would have come up with SERIOUSLY inventive collections of phrases that would hit much much harder than his Seven Words. He'd have been in heaven (ha).
posted by tzikeh at 5:10 PM on October 9 [21 favorites]


Imagine, if you will, that a person, or a group of people, have done something bad. They have knowingly chosen to gain an advantage at the expense of someone else. Perhaps they lied to potential investors about a building’s actual value. Maybe they bullied the vulnerable and then laughed. Or maybe it was something worse: They took an entire continent from its indigenous peoples. They enslaved, tortured, kidnapped, murdered, lied, stole. Maybe the people who benefited from all these various crimes are also willing to argue, strenuously, that none of it actually happened — or that if it did happen, it didn’t matter, or even that it was all actually for the good. Maybe these people have managed, through further bad actions, to put themselves into positions of power, where they will have outsize influence on everything that happens next.

Can a person, or a nation, that finds itself in such a situation — can it ever change? Is such deep badness redeemable? Is there any hope?

posted by bunderful at 5:41 PM on October 9 [10 favorites]


One thing I've noticed about the Schur sitcoms I love (Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Good Place) is that they're all stories about absurd people who become better people over time. Also, there's an element of geekish enthusiasm required to make things like municipal politics and moral philosophy funny.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:06 PM on October 9 [12 favorites]


I keep meaning to watch this. But I wanted to start from the beginning, and now it's daunting to face that many episodes, when I rarely watch more than an hour or two of tv a week these days. But from everything I've read, it seems like it would be my cup of tea. Is it chronological, such that it really only makes sense if you start at the beginning?
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:32 PM on October 9


Start from the beginning. They're short seasons so that helps.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:34 PM on October 9 [12 favorites]


it seems like it would be my cup of tea.

I don’t really like to watch anything, especially on my own.

On MF recommendations and TGP posts, I started season 1 on a lark last year and pretty much immediately binged the whole thing. Turned friends onto it. We set up viewing parties for season 2. Doing the same with season 3.

It’s really that good, and yes, start from the beginning. If you only watch a couple of episodes a week that’s great! Means you’ll be set for awhile. :)
posted by curious nu at 6:42 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]


Start from the beginning. They're short seasons so that helps.

The plot also moves briskly, it doesn't feel at all like a typical drawn-out sitcom pace.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:43 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]


Start from the beginning. They're short seasons so that helps.

And short episodes. 22-ish mins.

Reiterating that this is a show you must watch chronologically. Do not skip around. Do not just pick it up with the current ep.
posted by greermahoney at 7:08 PM on October 9 [15 favorites]


It really goes down smoothly. I'm not a binge watcher by nature (at least not the modern variety) but the short episodes and constant mini-cliffhangers mean you are easily led from each episode to the next.
posted by praemunire at 8:06 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


Apparently the official Twitter for this show once made reference to the webcomic Homestuck (or technically, the webcomic-in-a-webcomic, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff). I still have mixed feelings on this.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:09 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]


Is there like, a bibliography or recommended reading that comes with this show? I read a little ethics 101 after the first season and it only whet my appetite for more. Is “what we owe to each other” comprehensible for the layman?
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 8:24 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


BIAB, back in February, Book Riot offered "Chidi's Reading List": I went back through the shows and scoured the Internet to make a pretty comprehensive list of the books and philosophers discussed by Chidi in The Good Place.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:18 PM on October 9 [17 favorites]


I love this show so much, and really recommend the podcast, I pretty much listened exclusively to it in August and September, getting caught up for Season 3.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:16 PM on October 9


Each season is 12 episodes (I think) and each episode is 21 and a half minutes long (which I know from the podcast), which means each season is only about 4 hours. Easy to watch through even for the binge-averse.

Nthing that you should absolutely 100% not start anywhere but the beginning. But you could pretty easily watch the first few episodes and see if you like it.
posted by lunasol at 10:29 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


i'm a bit bummed because the latest season is not available on international Netflix, but if anyone else is like me and in the following countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Morocco and Uganda, you can try iflix. That's where I'm getting my legal streaming fix, they have the rights to the show and it's up within 24 hours.
posted by cendawanita at 10:36 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


I love this show so much. It's probably my favourite sitcom ever. But as the article says, sitcom barely describes it. I love that it's about ethics and smart people and that half the main characters are people of colour, and half are women. It's just a delightful, clever, funny breath of fresh air.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:01 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]


The Good Place comes out Fridays on Netflix here (the day after US broadcast, I assume?), so if you’re outside the US but not in a country cendawanita mentioned, it’s worth at least checking!

I almost gave up on the show three or four episodes in, but I powered through to the season one finale on the strength of the communal MeFi hype and was glad I did. When I rec it to people I usually suggest they take a night or three and commit to watching the full first season.
posted by bettafish at 6:15 AM on October 10


To any readers who might be dubious of this show, let me say that I am as cynical, pessimistic, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, grumpy, hard-boiled, two-fisted, current-events-despair-encumbered, this-close-to-day-drinking of a TV viewer as they come, and I too love this show. That said? I have a near-constant feeling, when watching it, of it veering dangerously close to the precipice of saccharine and losing me.

But this far in, it hasn't. So I'm pretty confident it won't.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:16 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


So my niece (20s, conservative) is briefly staying with me and she got hooked on this when I rewatched a few episodes with my kiddo.

Yesterday she asked me if I'd read Mere Christianity because her church group was doing that book. Then she said "Every time I read another chapter I think 'this reminds me The Good Place!'"

Lewis was my gateway drug into more liberal thought (though I know he doesn't operate that way/get used that way for everyone, but his explanation of how it's ok to think suffering is bad opened a lot of doors for me) so let's just say I feel good about this state of affairs.
posted by emjaybee at 6:37 AM on October 10 [5 favorites]


Each season is 12 episodes (I think) and each episode is 21 and a half minutes long (which I know from the podcast)

They say 13 half-hour episodes, but the first two episodes of each season seem to be shown together as one.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:46 AM on October 10


Danson is great as Michael; however am I the only one that sees Michael as maybe having been originally written for Craig Ferguson?

Jonathan Dancy was a guest on the Late Show with Craig Ferguson (video link).
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:52 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


I tend to take the enthusiasm of others over TV shows with a grain of salt but I was pleasantly surprised at how good this show was. One episode and I was hooked.
posted by tommasz at 6:57 AM on October 10 [3 favorites]


My absolute favorite show. And the podcast is wonderfully painful to listen to. Wonderful because everyone is so nice and it's fascinating to hear about how much work goes into each episode (not just from the actors, writers, and directors - they also talk to editors, composers, props people, set decorators, etc.), and painful because of the inescapable feeling of "WHY NOT ME" I get at some point during every podcast. :)

The author of this article totally nails the contrast because Good Place and the sitcoms of prior eras that are entirely about awful people doing awful things. I certainly enjoyed things about Seinfeld and 30 Rock, but this is such a breath of fresh air, especially in our current climate.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:08 AM on October 10


I have never seen this, but when I try to think of a sitcom with similar interest in ethics, I keep remembering Mork and Mindy, the vignette at the end of each show, where Mork reports home about what the earthlings do.
posted by elizilla at 8:03 AM on October 10 [5 favorites]


There is so much thoughtful depth to this show, but at the same time is incredibly delightful and uplifting. It is a rare thing to accomplish both of those.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:12 AM on October 10


They're short seasons so that helps.

They did nearly 30 episodes!
posted by maxwelton at 9:48 AM on October 10 [14 favorites]


The author of this article totally nails the contrast because Good Place and the sitcoms of prior eras that are entirely about awful people doing awful things. I certainly enjoyed things about Seinfeld and 30 Rock, but this is such a breath of fresh air, especially in our current climate.

My wife and I are catching up on S2, after a binge run of catching up on Brooklyn 99. What I am reflecting on is how both sitcoms share a core: the group of characters are all quirky, weird, or whatever in their own ways, but they are also teams that accept each other and works together towards common goals. It's part of what makes them enjoyable to watch for me.
posted by nubs at 10:00 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


I think Danson can play straight better than Ferguson. Craigie's a bit too arch to make Michael work.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:21 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


I like this show a lot but with every passing season it feels more and more claustrophobic. Let these poor souls have the sweet release of ontological annihilation already, jeez

This. The first season was pretty great, the second season (watching on Netflix), feels like an increasing annoying game of "How can we stretch out this plot" with little payoff.

The creators and writers definitely went to college and studied important things and that's cool, but the focus on the four main characters does indeed get claustrophobic.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:22 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


My wife and I are almost done Season 2 on Netflix and I'm ever-so-slightly tempted to get cable again just so we can watch the latest season without having to wait a year. Of course, the writing is tight enough that I think it would be a bit of a drag to watch it one week at a time, rather than binging it over the course of a few days.
posted by asnider at 10:31 AM on October 10


I'm ever-so-slightly tempted to get cable again just so we can watch the latest season without having to wait a year

It's on Hulu the day after each episode airs.
posted by suelac at 10:42 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


Thinking about the show some more, I wish there was anthology format to it, as looking at how different people change could be really interesting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:56 AM on October 10


Traditionally American programming has contacted for 26ish eps per season. I find that a challenge because, in practice, you get filler episodes where the big idea of the season ends up ignored, or romance plots where the relationship is awkwardly on hold for weeks or months until "sweeps."

That's changing, and I'm a huge fan of the six and thirteen (used by The Good Place) format for serials. B99 in contrast feels right at a longer season because the serial elements are mostly bookended at the start and end of the season. (Minor subplots like Charles's food truck don't need intensive development.)
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:08 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


So, my teenager and I watched the first five episodes tonight, and we're officially hooked.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:51 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]


OK, so I have to ask you all something about this show, because it sounds pretty interesting.

I have found that I dislike "binging"* and "bingable" TV shows. I like individual episodes that have some thoughtfulness and meat to them, stories that give you something to think about for a while after they're over. Some of my favorite programs were Girls (Lena Dunham), Mad Men (Matthew Weiner), and Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch), because each episode was so rich. (Seriously I still ruminate on the implications of "One Man's Trash," 10 years later. So much wisdom and insight in an off-beat view of one situation, which turns out to reflect a lot more of life.) When I tried powering through multiple episodes of Mad Men in one sitting, I found the whole experience really unsatisfying, because I was just skimming along the surface for plot rather than taking time to develop all the little ideas scattered through them. When I tried the famously-bingable Mozart In The Jungle many of the individual shows didn't feel "complete."

So hearing that The Good Place is like a philosophy/ethics class in each episode makes me really excited. But then everyone is saying "oh I binge watched 57 episodes one weekend." So what is it like? Are you guys just smarter than me, so you don't need a week between shows to process all the philosophical consequences therein?


* is that the Microsoft version of Googling?
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 2:57 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]


Well, there are only 28 episodes so far, or a little over 10 hours total. Watching two hours of TV a night, you finish in less than a week. I think when I was 'binging' it, I was watching maybe two episodes at a time, so the equivalent of one episode of Mad Men (and less than one episode of Girls).

Also, I keep the philosophical consequences for the rewatch and enjoy the jokes the first time around.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:58 AM on October 11 [3 favorites]


The political philosophy of The Good Place: We Live In The Bad Place
posted by The Whelk at 9:10 AM on October 11 [6 favorites]


The cliffhangers at the end of episodes are the good kind, where a situation is frequently resolved, but then flipped. So you get that "this is a complete chapter" feeling, while also seeing part of a larger work. it's not just "welp, here's where we ran out of time this week!".
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:57 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]


With the first few episodes, at least for us, it's that we were enjoying it so much, that we wanted to see the next chapter. Interesting side effect, kiddo was reading John Stuart Mill this morning before school.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:39 AM on October 11


Harvey Kilobit: So hearing that The Good Place is like a philosophy/ethics class in each episode makes me really excited. But then everyone is saying "oh I binge watched 57 episodes one weekend." So what is it like? Are you guys just smarter than me, so you don't need a week between shows to process all the philosophical consequences therein?

It's not about being smarter. We (at least I) do process all of the rich, deep questions of morality and ethics and keep thinking about them long after watching the episodes, but think of it like the best lecture class you ever took in college. The lecture might be 90 minutes in length twice a week, but you've taken notes and these things are going to be churning around in your brain long after the lecture is over.

Also, many of us have watched the series several times, because there is that much to chew on, so we go back to it. Over and over.

If you want to watch it one episode at a time, and sit in the ethical stew of each episode, nobody's stopping you. Enjoy! Everything's great!
posted by tzikeh at 11:00 AM on October 11 [3 favorites]


I'd also add, as a huge fan of the show, that the idea that there's a "philosophy/ethics class in each episode" overstates things a bit. There's a a small amount of philosophy thrown around, but it's an ensemble comedy first, and the didactic content is a distant second.
posted by Ipsifendus at 11:47 AM on October 11 [10 favorites]


As much as I enjoy The Good Place as a breezy thing to waste an afternoon on, it’s all just a little too shallow for all the hype it gets. Strike that—a lot too shallow.

Imagine being doomed to the [spoiler-alert] Place because you’re a character with exactly one flaw, like someone Dorothy dreamt up in The Wizard of Oz? Like, the Wizard would totally just give Chidi a coin to toss, right? That’s his whole entire deal? Seriously? And Jason is, what, just kinda dumb? Okay...?

All of which is just to say Last Man On Earth did it better IMO.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:52 PM on October 11


Jason is a criminal, an aspiring DJ and a Floridian. He also saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers in concert and had a personalized license plate.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:43 PM on October 11 [6 favorites]


Jason was also the #1 fan of Blake Bortles before we all realized that we might be in the Bad Place because Bortles started this season really well.
posted by TwoStride at 2:32 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


A few people have pointed out that The Good Place is really about rethinking prisons and criminal justice:
The pointlessness of The Good Place’s punishments — which serve no moral purpose — is the show’s most radical choice. Sometimes police in cop shows are bad people; The Wire goes further and presents bad cops as navigating and manipulating a flawed, corrupt system. But almost all cop shows agree, one way or the other, that police are doing important work. They foil murderers, serial killers, kidnappers, terrorists, thieves, and drug dealers. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a lighthearted series with fairly low stakes, but the show never questions the idea that the cops are making the streets safer. Even Orange is the New Black, which largely takes place in a women’s prison and openly sympathizes with the inmates, still presents many of its prisoners as genuinely dangerous. There’s a logic to trying to restrain them, even if the show criticizes the methods used.

But the eternal punishment of The Good Place doesn’t make streets safer. Jason Mendoza was largely incompetent as a thief when he was alive. Dead, he’s significantly less of a threat. The only reason to keep hurting someone after they’re dead is sheer sadistic pleasure in cruelty. The punishment in The Good Place also isn’t meant to benefit its prisoners. They’re dead, and their moral journey is over. They can’t get better...

...The Good Place, though, asks its fans to interrogate the morality — not of the imprisoned, but of the forces that want to lock them away, out of sight and mind. Do we imprison people to help them become better human beings? Or do we imprison them because, like the demons, we get pleasure out of moral superiority and having power over those we’ve dismissed as beneath us?

Prisons, both on and off television, are a primary means of enforcing morality and achieving justice. They’re where we separate wrong from right. They’re how we bring our plot arcs to a satisfying resolution. It’s as though society has designated prison as a form of The Good Place where debts are paid and stories end righteously. But maybe, the show suggests, the truth is more complicated, and society needs to rethink whether it’s possible for prisons to help criminals reform, learn morality, or otherwise improve themselves. Maybe they’re just The Bad Place where the punishments are arbitrary, cruel, and incapable of creating meaningful change...
posted by AceRock at 3:20 PM on October 11 [12 favorites]


Imagine being doomed to the [spoiler-alert] Place because you’re a character with exactly one flaw, like someone Dorothy dreamt up in The Wizard of Oz?

Which is the exact subtext that I love about the show; the system that has created the situation in which these people find themselves in this Place contains obvious, massive, horrible flaws and is broken. The show has not really directly attacked that question yet (for someone who is in late S2), but has brushed up against it once or twice, but I have a sense/hope that is where things will go as Team Cockroach begins to change not only themselves but others around them.
posted by nubs at 3:36 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


I also feel that's keeping in with its subject matter, where the Trolley Problem is a bit like the ethical equivalent of, "assume a spherical cow." But I suspect there's at least another big reveal regarding the points system in the works.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 3:44 PM on October 11


Assume a spherical trolley
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:02 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]




As much as I enjoy The Good Place as a breezy thing to waste an afternoon on, it’s all just a little too shallow for all the hype it gets. Strike that—a lot too shallow.

Imagine being doomed to the [spoiler-alert] Place because you’re a character with exactly one flaw, like someone Dorothy dreamt up in The Wizard of Oz? Like, the Wizard would totally just give Chidi a coin to toss, right? That’s his whole entire deal? Seriously? And Jason is, what, just kinda dumb? Okay...?


I have a lot of problems with the morality of the Good/Bad Place too, and it's occasionally tripped me up in my enjoyment of the show (really? 99.9999% of all people are being tortured forever? that's not necessarily shallow but it is super bleak!) but we don't know what the actual deal is. We've actually only ever had demons explaining the afterlife to us, so we may be in for some surprises.
posted by lunasol at 9:51 AM on October 14


We've actually only ever had demons explaining the afterlife to us, so we may be in for some surprises.

(and Maya Rudolph, of course. But she's been pretty stingy with the actual details)
posted by lunasol at 9:52 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


I think it's quite deliberate that the in-universe moral standards are indeed too arbitrary and superficial, but also quasi-sincere. Bits like "Plus points for veganism, minus points for bringing it up unprompted" do still operate as surface-level jokes. Kidding on the square.

In a way, that's like the classic cringe comedy that this show is mainly a welcome break from: the audience enjoys both the idea that people who say "I need a vacation from my vacation!" get their due... and the inherent ridiculousness of that as a moral standard.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 9:59 AM on October 15 [5 favorites]


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