After spending an entire semester dissecting, discussing, and diving into everything related to The Good Place, it is about time we start convincing the four people left who haven’t given in and binged the show – and to provide those who have a handy-dandy list to kindly shove in the faces of said four. Without further adieu, here is my Top 10 list of reasons to watch The Good Place, with a short special surprise at the end. Enjoy!
10. It’s incredibly smart.
Not only is the conversational writing of the show whip-smart and a blast to watch, but there is also painstaking detail and care taken with the philosophy used in the show as well. So while we can’t promise that watching TGP will make your IQ increase, we can promise you will become more smart-brained if you really listen to what’s going on.
9. But it can also be dumb.
So the show knows it can be smart. But who wants to watch a show purely educating us about morality? Put your hand down, Karen. Anyway, TGP could never be accused of not being goofy and even a little dumb at times, and the show revels in its absurdity. The Good Place, the Bad Place, fate, death – what about that doesn’t sound ridiculous and hilarious? I’m waiting.
8. The Cast
Kristen Bell. Ted Danson. Two huge stars, blinding in their celebrity and talent. I know you’re already sold, but although not as well-known prior to this, William Jackson Harper, D’Arcy Carden, Jameela Jamil, and Manny Jacinto, are each often scene-stealers and demonstrate a wealth of talent that matches the levels of everyone around them. The talent is palpable. Honestly, if one of them at least doesn’t get an Emmy, there is not justice. I’ll say it.
7. To loudly proclaim “what the fork?!” at least once an episode (on average)
Whether it be an outrageous gag, an obscure joke, or a complete out-of-nowhere plot twist, TGP knows how to keep viewers guessing. If you think a scene or a storyline is going one direction, odds are you are wrong. Now they don’t do that dumb thing where they deliberately make you think something to then hurt you by ripping the rug out, instead they engage in thoughtful and intelligent story-telling that is just a dozen steps ahead of where we get to see. And that’s the exciting part.
6. But also the stellar running gags
Now, this is a sitcom, and so while TGP keeps you guessing most of the time, it would be remiss if it didn’t take advantage of the gold mine that is running gags. There are a wide-range of gags, from character traits (poor Jason) to one-liners (“Not a girl.”) to Tahani’s ever-increasing name-dropping. We get it. You knew everyone. (But we also love it, so please keep telling us more.)
5. The C A S T
Yes, this was already on the list. Yes, this deserves to be on it again because they are that FORKING FANTASTIC. The chemistry and cohesiveness of the crew is incredible and each episode shines with new energy and new life to the characters as we continue to learn about their lives. This is truly an ensemble show and a supreme example of a comedic program showcasing both intensely comedic and dramatic performances.
4. To get two dope new vocabularies and a treasure trove of quotes.
Whether you have a “dope soul and hella ethics” or unfortunately “ya basic,” Jason and Eleanor have such distinct words and phrases that it’s hard not to latch on to at least some of their lexical bullshirt. Apart from the two of them, there are also just so many iconic quotes and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my personal favorite, Michael’s “Birth is a curse and existence is a prison.” Legendary.
3. To revisit that philosophy class you took once and slept through half the lectures for and maybe still have a book from?
Ah, yes, back to the smart-brained stuff. TGP not only addresses moral philosophy and name drops philosophers and books as casually as pop culture references at times, but it also hired a philosophy advisor to ensure that the content pulled from the texts is accurate and a good understanding of the field’s approaches. Wanting to read along with Chidi and Eleanor? Sure, go right ahead! All the works are real (except Chidi’s life’s work – but you really wouldn’t want to read that. Trust us. It gave us a headache).
2. Redefining the sitcom genre
Insane plot twists, heartfelt confessions, traveling to other dimensions, overarching plots, cliffhangers – these are not things most of us would associate with a 30-minute network comedy but they can all be found in our favorite philosophy-comedy hybrid! The traditional sitcom follows a specific structure and there are tons of conventions that the network comedy, especially, does and does not follow in order to create a product familiar to the audience and easily palatable. Oh, but here the visionary Michael Schur (creator and Executive Producer) and his team design a show that laughs in the face of what it “should” be and leaves viewers not feeling tricked but feeling like they have been given a breath of fresh air and a treat unlike any other they are likely to encounter for a long time.
- The Hope.
Above all else, The Good Place stands out for its incredible heart. Just like Schur’s earlier success, Parks and Recreation, TGP does not fall into the especially modern trap of using cynicism and sarcasm as its primary traits in order to make audiences laugh. Instead, it takes the much harder and more vulnerable route of making us see and feel love on the screen and to truly care about the characters and have them truly care about one another. It also fails to fall into the trap of being too gushy, particularly by having characters like Eleanor and Michael who tend to bristle at open affection and being genuine. So if nothing else on this insanely convincing list has convinced you – really?? do you hate joy? – the heart and hope that is tangible on this show may be something worth considering. In today’s world, cynicism is easy, but showing hope? That takes heart.
As promised, here is the bonus material: three pieces of recommended reading/watching to go along with your viewing!
- What We Owe to Each Other by T. M. Scanlon
Yes, this is a philosophy book, but it is also in a TV show so does that make up for it a bit? If you want to get the low-down on what Chidi is talking about when he’s waving this book around, you can! The books is real and is considered by some a seminal book regarding moral philosophy. Plus when you hold the cover, you can know Chidi has done the same thing. Wild.
2. Moral Saints by Susan Wolf
I know, I know, another philosophy text. I don’t want to hear any of your bullshirt, just read it. We used this bad boy to kick off our class discussion of TGP and it ties in wonderfully with many of the themes present in the show and may also just make you consider your own life and choices a bit differently. Scared? Read it, you coward.
3. The Good Place: Podcast
Okay, so I couldn’t make the entire list philosophy texts, because this entry was too great to skip over. TGP: Podcast not only allows us access to the actors and to the crew, but it also provides jokes and inside information we might otherwise have never have known! So when you finish binging the show and are trying to fill the empty void it has created in the place you used to call a heart, hop on over to the Podcast and get a good placebo high.
Thank you for reading and I hope that this did one of a few things: 1) convinced you to watch TGP (it’s about time, yeesh); 2) helped you convince someone else to watch TGP (high five, please); 3) reminded you of why you love TGP; or 4) helped you kill some time before you write that paper or do the laundry (ps we have tons of other awesome procrastination material on this site, just saying).