“The Good Place” finale resolves battles of good and bad

By Sarah Buchmann Feb 14, 2020

 I never thought that I would cry at the words, “Take it sleazy,” but two weeks ago, these words broke me. 

The line was the perfect ending to NBC’s sitcom The Good Place, which ran for four seasons before creator Michael Schur decided to wrap it up. 

The Good Place show cannot be simplified into one article. 

There’s too many things to talk about: flying shrimp, ugly cowboy boots, the art of throwing parties and the influence of Blake Bortles. 

But it can be boiled down to what it is at its core: what it means to be human.

When it first aired in 2016, The Good Place was a campy show with mediocre special effects, trope characters and a somewhat predictable plot line for each episode. 

Kristen Bell plays Eleanor Shellstrop, a dead girl from Arizona, wakes up in what she thinks is heaven, or the Good Place. 

The twist of the knife is that they are actually in the Bad Place. 

Eleanor gains the help of ethics professor Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper), rich socialite Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil), Floridian idiot Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto) and not-a-girl not-a-robot Janet (D’arcy Carden). 

Together they fight to make it out of the Bad Place and into the Good Place. 

Ted Danson plays Michael, a Bad Place demon desparately trying to torture the humans by use of psychological warfare and essentially making them torture each other, but they figure it out everytime. 

The star-studded cast also features Maya Rudolph, Marc Evan Jackson and a surprise appearance from Lisa Kudrow. 

The four humans are racially diverse, as is the rest of the cast – Jason is Filipino, Chidi is African-Australian, and Tahani is Pakistani-English. 

The show also normalizes sexuality and orientation.

In the original Neighborhood, there is a gay couple who represent more than just their sexuality.

There is no queer-baiting on The Good Place, just inclusion and acceptance. 

Yet, a rude, sexist, homophobic, racist character, who insists that the others know that he went to Princeton exists in the form of Brent Norwalk. 

Brent Norwalk is the living embodiment of our society’s worst. 

I can guarantee that everyone has experienced a Brent in their lives, and if you haven’t, you will. 

But The Good Place is more than inclusion, acceptance and a quickly-made Molotov cocktail.

The series teaches philosophy, morality and ethics in a way that is relatable to audiences of all ages. 

My entire family (ages 12 to 52) binged the entire series and each of us had something to take away from it. 

The messages are universal. In particular, my favorite quote, and my new-found way of living, comes from Michael, early on in Season Four, “What matters isn’t if people are good or bad. What matters is if they’re trying to be better today than they were yesterday.” 

We cannot be judged as people purely on whether we fulfill some sort of “goodness” quota, but how much we change and learn from our past decisions and mistakes.

The Good Place has been an incredible ride through the “Jeremy Bearimy” timeline we live in, and has certainly made me want to better myself. 

I don’t really believe in an afterlife, be it heaven and hell, a Good and Bad Place, Elysian fields in the Underworld… 

But I have come to terms with my life and the way I’ve been living it. 

I try to live a little better each day. 

The Good Place was deep and insightful, but also silly, light-hearted and fun. 

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