NBC’s The Good Place has yet to reach high viewing numbers or global recognition, but its favourable reviews are definitely well deserved.
Created by Michael Schur (co-creator of Parks and Recreation), the Good Place is a whimsical sitcom about the afterlife, albeit with some slightly darker undertones (there is always the looming threat of torture by bees with teeth or lava pits).
The show’s cast includes Kristen Bell and Ted Dance. Bell portrays Eleanor Shellstrop; a selfish, arrogant narcissist trying to better herself while Dance plays Michael; the ‘architect’ of Eleanor’s good place.
The end of the first seasons plot reveal that the protagonists are not actually in the ‘good place’ at all, but rather the ‘bad place’, the show takes off in a new direction and the first three episodes this season feature a hilarious montage of failures as they work out this secret time and time again, only for Michael to press a reset button and erase all of their memories of the afterlife.
Kristen Bell and Ted Dance play off each other wonderfully, with Michael constantly underestimating Eleanor and growing increasingly depressed with each failed attempt to torture her and her friends. The actors have genuine chemistry and they clearly both enjoy their roles.
That being said, perhaps the most consistently hilarious character on the show is Manny Jacinto’s, Jason Mendoza. His role is simple: he is the well meaning idiot who doesn’t fully understand anything around him. It’s a formula that has been done time and time again in sit coms, but Jacinto’s performance still manages to seem fresh and Jason never fails to illicit a laugh, whether by falling in love with a computer system or by realising he is actually in the ‘bad place’ because none of the TVs get the RedZone channel.
Aside from the main cast, Tiya Surcar deserves praise for her recurring role as Vicky; a demon who plays various roles in Michael’s good place meant to torture the humans but just wants to play a character with a more important role. It is, no doubt intentionally, ironic that Vicky’s frustration with her lack of character is what makes her such a strong character.
Between the unique premise, brilliant actors, and wickedly funny writing, The Good Place shows more promise than most sitcoms do this early on (including Shur’s own Parks and Rec which does not truly shine until sometime in its second season). With the number of unexpected events, it is honestly pretty much impossible to predict what will happen next, which only makes the ride that much more enjoyable.
Image: ravend @ Wikimedia Commons