The Good Place
|The Good Place|
|Created by||Michael Schur|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||39 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Audio format||5.1 Dolby Digital with DVS on SAP|
|Original release||September 19, 2016 –|
The series focuses on Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), who wakes up in the afterlife and is introduced by Michael (Ted Danson) to "The Good Place", a highly selective Heaven-like utopia he designed, as a reward for her righteous life. However, she realizes that she was sent there by mistake and must hide her morally imperfect behavior while trying to become a better and more ethical person. William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, and Manny Jacinto co-star as other residents of "The Good Place", together with D'Arcy Carden as Janet, an artificial being who knows all the information in the universe and can produce any item out of thin air, abilities which she uses to help the inhabitants.
The Good Place has been commended for its writing, acting, originality, setting, and tone. In addition, the first season's twist ending and the show's exploration and creative use of ethics and philosophy have been positively received. The recognition also earned the series a Peabody Award in 2019. The series has also won two Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form for the episodes "The Trolley Problem" and "Janet(s)".
The third season premiered on September 27, 2018, and concluded on January 24, 2019. In December 2018, NBC renewed the series for a fourth and final season, set to premiere on September 26, 2019.
- 1 Synopsis
- 2 Cast and characters
- 3 Episodes
- 4 Production
- 5 Broadcast and release
- 6 Reception
- 7 References
- 8 External links
After her death, Eleanor Shellstrop is welcomed to her afterlife in "The Good Place" by Michael, an immortal architect who has built a specifically designed afterlife community that strives to accommodate everyone's specific tastes. Michael introduces Eleanor to Janet, an artificial intelligence that serves as a guide, and her soulmate, a university ethics professor named Chidi Anagonye. Eleanor, who led a dissolute and amoral life, tells Chidi that she must have been sent to the Good Place by accident, and he agrees to teach Eleanor to become a better person to earn her place for real. Eleanor's neighbor is Tahani Al-Jamil, a wealthy socialite, whose soulmate is introduced as a silent Buddhist monk named Jianyu Li; but Jianyu reveals that he is actually a dimwitted DJ from Florida named Jason Mendoza, who also believes he has been sent to The Good Place by mistake. As Chidi continues to teach Eleanor and then Jason ethics lessons, chaotic events occur in the neighborhood, apparently due to Eleanor's unauthorized presence. Eleanor reveals to the entire neighborhood that she's not supposed to be in the Good Place, but Michael offers to try to find a way for both Eleanor and Jason to remain. When those efforts prove fruitless, an authority figure named Shawn rules that Eleanor and Jason must be sent to the Bad Place. In the season finale's twist ending, Eleanor deduces that she, Chidi, Tahani and Jason have actually been in The Bad Place all along. Michael reveals his demonic plot to have the four of them torture each other emotionally and psychologically for eternity. He then announces his intent to wipe their memories and separate the four to try again.
Michael repeatedly attempts the experiment in human torture again with variations of the neighborhood, but the group figures out the truth each time. After 802 fruitless attempts, the other demons stage a coup against Michael and threaten to inform Shawn about his repeated failures if he doesn't implement their ideas instead. Michael decides to team up with the four humans and promises to get them all into the real Good Place; they agree after Michael agrees to begin learning about ethics himself. They escape with Michael's help through the Bad Place, and they attempt to get to the Good Place by appealing to the Judge, an entity named Gen. Gen gives each a test to see if the four humans have improved enough to enter the Good place, which everyone except Eleanor fails (although she tells the others she failed as well). Michael appeals, and Gen agrees to send them all back to Earth with no memories of the afterlife and with Michael intervening to prevent their deaths, to give them a chance to show true moral development in ignorance of the potential consequences. After a false start, Michael intervenes again and points Eleanor in the direction of Chidi, reigniting her passion for ethics.
Realizing that the group has been falling back into their old patterns, Michael repeatedly interferes without Gen's knowledge to manipulate them to find each other. They all end up in Sydney and become participants in a research study run by Chidi and his colleague Simone about near-death experiences and ethical decision making. After a year of monitoring and interfering in the lives of the group, Michael and Janet are discovered and forced to admit the truth about the group's experiences in the afterlife. This renders them incapable of earning admission to the Good Place; instead, Eleanor persuades the others to spend the remainder of their time left on Earth helping other people to get into the Good Place. Michael and Janet track down Doug Forcett, the only human to have ever come close to figuring the truth about the afterlife; they find that his obsession with trying to live in such a way as to gain admission to the Good Place is making his existence miserable. Shawn travels to Earth to apprehend Michael, and taunts him that no one, including Forcett, will make it to the Good Place. His demons force the group to escape back into the afterlife. When Michael and Janet learn that it has been 521 years since anyone has entered the real Good Place, Janet convinces Michael that it is up to him to fix the flawed system. An appeal to the real Good Place's governing committee fails due to bureaucratic red tape. Michael then tries to convince Gen that because good deeds have more and more unintended bad consequences, it's impossible to earn enough points to get into the Good Place. To test Chidi's theory that humans can improve if external factors are removed, a new simulated Good Place neighborhood is built which will be populated with four new deceased human test subjects. When Shawn threatens Michael with consequences if the experiment fails, Michael has a nervous breakdown and asks Eleanor to pose as the architect. As two of the subjects arrive, the group realizes Shawn has deliberately selected people with connections to each of them personally, in an effort to compromise the integrity of the experiment, essentially ensuring its failure. With Simone being one of the new subjects, Chidi is concerned that he will not be able to prevent his memories of his relationship with her from interfering with the experiment; so he asks Michael to erase his memory to the moment of his death in the original timeline.
Cast and characters
- Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop, a deceased selfish saleswoman from Phoenix, Arizona who winds up in the Good Place by mistake. In order to earn her spot, she recruits Chidi to teach her the fundamentals of becoming a better person.
- William Jackson Harper as Chidi Anagonye, a deceased professor of ethics and moral philosophy from Senegal. Assigned as Eleanor's soulmate in Michael's first Good Place experiment, he gives her ethics lessons in an attempt to make her a better person.
- Jameela Jamil as Tahani Al-Jamil, a deceased wealthy English philanthropist who believes she belongs in the Good Place. She forms an unlikely friendship with Eleanor, who initially dislikes her positive attitude, condescending way of speaking, and tendency to name drop.
- D'Arcy Carden as Janet, a programmed guide and knowledge bank who acts as the Good Place's main source of information and can provide its residents with whatever they desire. Later, Janet gains a more humanlike disposition, and begins to act differently than the way she was designed.
- Manny Jacinto as Jason Mendoza, a deceased amateur DJ and drug dealer from Jacksonville, Florida, who winds up in the Good Place by mistake. He is introduced as Jianyu Li, a Taiwanese monk who took a vow of silence. Later, Jason proves to be an immature and unintelligent, but kindhearted Jacksonville Jaguars and Blake Bortles fan.
- Ted Danson as Michael, a Bad Place architect who runs the Good Place neighborhood in which Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason reside. Michael has a deep affinity for the mundane aspects of human life, like playing with paper clips or searching for one's car keys. In the first-season finale, it is revealed that he has been tricking the four humans all along, and is actually a demon torturing them, though he later teams up with and befriends them. "Michael" is a Hebrew name meaning "one who is like God."
- Tiya Sircar as Vicky Sengupta, a Bad Place demon who is introduced as the "real Eleanor Shellstrop" in the first attempt of Michael's torture plan. When Michael's plans repeatedly fail, she forces him to give her control over the neighborhood in exchange for not telling Shawn about the repeated failures.
- Adam Scott as Trevor, a cruel Bad Place demon who bullies the main group. He makes a return in the third season, posing as an overenthusiastic member of Chidi's academic study on Earth.
- Marc Evan Jackson as Shawn, Michael's wicked boss. Shawn gives Michael two chances to pull off the torture experiment, and later turns against him when he finds out about Michael's betrayal.
- Maribeth Monroe as Mindy St. Claire, a deceased corporate lawyer and cocaine addict who just barely toed the line of earning enough Good Place points before her death and thus was awarded her own private Medium Place.
- Luke Guldan as Chris Baker, a ripped Bad Place demon assigned as Eleanor's soulmate in the second attempt.
- Jason Mantzoukas as Derek, a wacky artificial rebound boyfriend created by Janet.
- Maya Rudolph as Judge Gen (short for Hydrogen), an eternal judge who rules on interdimensional matters between the Good Place and the Bad Place.
- Mike O'Malley as the Doorman, the gatekeeper of the doorway between the afterlife and Earth. He has an affinity for frogs.
- Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Simone Garnett, an Australian neuroscientist and, briefly, Chidi's girlfriend.
- Amy Okuda as Gayle, a Bad Place demon pretending to be a Good Place resident by the name of Jessica.
- Steve Berg as Chuck, a Bad Place demon pretending to be a Good Place resident by the name of Gunnar.
- Bambadjan Bamba as Bambadjan, a Bad Place demon pretending to be a lawyer in the Good Place.
- Josh Siegal as Glenn, a Bad Place demon pretending to be a cheerfully dopey Good Place resident.
- Eugene Cordero as Pillboi, Jason's best friend and partner in crime.
- Jama Williamson as Val, a demon and Shawn's secretary.
- Ben Lawson as Larry Hemsworth, Tahani's former boyfriend and the fictional fourth Hemsworth brother. Despite being very attractive and successful, he constantly beats himself up.
- Rebecca Hazlewood as Kamilah Al-Jamil, Tahani's massively successful and competitive younger sister.
- Leslie Grossman as Donna Shellstrop, Eleanor's cruel, self-centered, negligent mother. In the third season, it is revealed that she has found peace as a PTA mom in a Nevada suburb.
- Angela Trimbur as Madison, Eleanor's roommate.
- Meryl Hathaway as Brittany, Eleanor's roommate.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||September 19, 2016||January 19, 2017|
|2||13||September 20, 2017||February 1, 2018|
|3||13||September 27, 2018||January 24, 2019|
|4||14||September 26, 2019||February 6, 2020|
NBC issued a press release on August 13, 2015, announcing it had given the then-untitled show a 13-episode order based purely on a pitch by Michael Schur. On January 12, 2016, it was announced that Kristen Bell and Ted Danson had been cast in the lead roles for the series. The first synopsis of the show was also released, stating that the show was set to revolve around Eleanor designing her own self-improvement course with Michael acting as her guide – although the afterlife element had always been a part of the series, as Kristen Bell has stated she was aware of the first-season finale twist when she signed onto the show.
William Jackson Harper was cast as Chris on February 11, 2016, though the character was renamed Chidi. Jameela Jamil was cast as Tessa on February 25, 2016, and her character was renamed Tahani. On March 3, 2016, Manny Jacinto was revealed to have been cast as a "sweet and good-natured Jason" whose "dream is to make a living as a DJ in Southern Florida". On March 14, 2016, D'Arcy Carden was cast in a series regular role that was announced as "Janet Della-Denunzio, a violin salesperson with a checkered past" – although writer Megan Amram later admitted that this was an intentional hoax.
According to Schur, the premise and idea was to include religious elements into the series after doing research on various faiths and groups, but he decided to scrap the plans, instead going for a concept that included all faiths that was diverse and free of religious views. "I stopped doing research because I realized it's about versions of ethical behavior, not religious salvation," he says. "The show isn't taking a side, the people who are there are from every country and religion." Schur also points out that the setting (shot in San Marino, California's Huntington Gardens) already had the feeling of a pastiche of different cultures, stating that the neighborhoods will feature people who are part of nondenominational and interdenominational backgrounds that interact with each other regardless of religion.
The series' setting and premises, as well as the serialized cliffhangers, were modeled on Lost, a favorite of Schur's. One of the first people he called when he developed the series was Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. "I took him to lunch and said, 'We're going to play a game [of] 'Is this anything?'" He then added "I imagine this going in the Lost way, with cliffhangers and future storylines."
The first season's surprise twist, that the Good Place was the Bad Place, and Chidi, Eleanor, Jason and Tahani were the four souls chosen because they were best suited to torture each other indefinitely, is very similar in premise to philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre's stage play No Exit, in which three strangers die, are escorted to a single room by a friendly bellhop where they are informed they must co-exist together, but ultimately determine they are entirely incompatible and thus come to the conclusion that "hell is other people". The only actors who knew the truth from the start were Danson and Bell.
Broadcast and release
The series premiered on September 19, 2016. On January 30, 2017, NBC renewed the series for a second season of 13 episodes, which premiered on Wednesday, September 20, 2017, with an hour-long premiere before moving to its normal time slot on Thursday at 8:30 pm, beginning September 28, 2017. On November 21, 2017, NBC renewed the series for a 13-episode third season, which premiered on September 27, 2018. On December 4, 2018, NBC renewed the series for a fourth season. On June 7, 2019, it was announced that the fourth season will be the last. Season 4 is set to premiere on September 26, 2019.
All the DVD releases for The Good Place were distributed by the Shout! Factory. The first season was released on DVD in region 1 on October 17, 2017. The second season was released on DVD on July 17, 2018. The third season was released on DVD on July 30, 2019.
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Episodes||First aired||Last aired||TV season||Rank||Avg. viewers|
|1||Monday 10:00 pm (premiere)
Thursday 8:30 pm
|13||September 19, 2016||8.04||January 19, 2017||3.93||2016–17||77||5.72|
|2||Wednesday 10:00 pm (premiere)
Thursday 8:30 pm
|13||September 20, 2017||5.28||February 1, 2018||3.19||2017–18||77||5.78|
|3||Thursday 8:00 pm (premiere)
Thursday 8:30 pm (2018)
Thursday 9:30 pm (2019)
|13||September 27, 2018||3.13||January 24, 2019||2.39||2018–19||99||4.57|
|1||91% (68 reviews)||78 (32 reviews)|
|2||100% (57 reviews)||87 (10 reviews)|
|3||100% (44 reviews)||96 (5 reviews)|
On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has a rating of 91%, based on 68 reviews, with an average rating of 7.72/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Kristen Bell and Ted Danson knock it out of the park with supremely entertaining, charming performances in this absurd, clever and whimsical portrayal of the afterlife." On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 78 out of 100, based on reviews from 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The editors of TV Guide placed The Good Place second among the top ten picks for the most anticipated new shows of the 2016–17 season. In its review from writer Liam Matthews, "NBC's new comedy has an impressive pedigree" (referring to Mike Schur and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, the latter cited as "arguably the greatest sitcom actor of all time"). Matthews concludes, "The hope is that their combined star power can restore NBC's tarnished comedy brand to its former glory. It won't be the next Friends, but it's something even better: a network comedy that feels different than anything that's come before."
On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season has a rating of 100%, based on 57 reviews, with an average rating of 8.95/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "By voluntarily blowing up its premise, The Good Place sets up a second season that proves even funnier than its first." On Metacritic, the second season has a score of 87 out of 100, based on reviews from 10 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
On Rotten Tomatoes, the third season has a rating of 100%, based on 44 reviews, with an average rating of 8.35/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Charming and curious as ever, The Good Place remains a delightfully insightful bright spot on the television landscape." On Metacritic, the third season has a score of 96 out of 100, based on reviews from five critics, indicating "universal acclaim."
Several critics have commended the show for its exploration and creative use of ethics and philosophy. Featured topics include the trolley problem thought experiment (originally devised by Philippa Foot), the categorical imperative (first formulated by Immanuel Kant), T. M. Scanlon's What We Owe to Each Other, and the works of Aristotle and Søren Kierkegaard. Andrew P. Street of The Guardian wrote that "moral philosophy is the beating heart of the program" and that the show "made philosophy seem cool." Elizabeth Yuko of The Atlantic noted that "The Good Place stands out for dramatizing actual ethics classes onscreen, without watering down the concepts being described, and while still managing to be entertaining." For their part, several philosophers have celebrated the show's largely accurate popularization of their line of work while noting some minor inaccuracies.
Several critics have noted that The Good Place is notable for its eschewing of antiheroes and cynical themes in favor of likable characters and a positive message. James Poniewozik of The New York Times explained that "the most refreshing thing about The Good Place, in an era of artistic bleakness, is its optimism about human nature. It's made humane and sidesplittingly entertaining television out of the notion that people – and even the occasional immortal demon – are redeemable." Jenna Scherer of Rolling Stone wrote that The Good Place proves that "slapstick and banter can coexist alongside tragedy and hardship – that a show doesn't need to be self-serious to be serious-minded." Erik Adams of The A.V. Club praised the show as portraying an "uncommonly decent TV world". Stuart Heritage of The Guardian called The Good Place "relentlessly optimistic", a quality which Stephanie Palumbo of Vulture called "a salve for despair in the Trump era".
Critics' top-ten lists
|American Film Institute||N/A||Shortlisted||N/A|
|Consequence of Sound||N/A||N/A||6|
|Film School Rejects||N/A||6||6|
|Las Vegas Weekly||4||5||N/A|
|Lincoln Journal Star||5||8||N/A|
|Los Angeles Times||Shortlisted||N/A||N/A|
|New York Daily News||N/A||N/A||4|
|New York Post||N/A||7||Shortlisted|
|San Francisco Chronicle||7||N/A||10|
|San Jose Mercury News||N/A||8||N/A|
|The A.V. Club||10||1b||1d|
|The Boston Globe||N/A||9||N/A|
|The Daily Beast||N/A||N/A||8|
|The Hollywood Reporter||N/A||9||5|
|The New York Times||N/A||Shortlisted||N/A|
|The Philadelphia Inquirer||N/A||N/A||Shortlisted|
|The Plain Dealer||N/A||9||9|
|The Salt Lake Tribune||N/A||6||6|
|The Village Voice||9||6||N/A|
|Town & Country||N/A||N/A||Shortlisted|
- ^ Tied with Patria O Muerte: Cuba, Fatherland or Death
- ^ Appears as No. 1 on Erik Adams' and William Hughes' lists. Also listed on 13 of 17 other The A.V. Club Top Ten Lists.
- ^ Tied with Brooklyn Nine-Nine
- ^ Appears as No. 1 on Dennis Perkins' list. Also listed on 10 of 16 other The A.V. Club Top Ten Lists.
|2016||Critics' Choice Television Awards||Most Exciting New Series||The Good Place||Won|||
|IGN Awards||Best TV Comedy Series||The Good Place||Nominated|||
|2017||American Film Institute Awards||Top 10 TV Programs of the Year||The Good Place||Won|||
|Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Actor in a Comedy Series||Ted Danson||Won|||
|Best Actress in a Comedy Series||Kristen Bell||Nominated|
|Gold Derby Awards||Comedy Lead Actor||Ted Danson||Nominated|||
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite New Comedy Series||The Good Place||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Television Series||The Good Place||Nominated|||
|TCA Awards||Individual Achievement in Comedy||Kristen Bell||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Achievement in Comedy||The Good Place||Nominated|
|Outstanding New Program||The Good Place||Nominated|
|2018||Hugo Award||Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form||"Michael's Gambit", written and directed by Michael Schur||Nominated|||
|"The Trolley Problem", written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan and directed by Dean Holland||Won|||
|People's Choice Awards||Best Comedy Show||The Good Place||Nominated|||
|Comedy TV Star||Kristen Bell||Nominated|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series||Maya Rudolph||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||Ted Danson||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Television Series||The Good Place||Nominated|||
|TCA Awards||Individual Achievement in Comedy||Ted Danson||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Achievement in Comedy||The Good Place||Won|
|Program of the Year||The Good Place||Nominated|
|2019||Golden Globe Awards||Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy||Kristen Bell||Nominated|||
|Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy||The Good Place||Nominated|
|Hugo Awards||Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form||"Janet(s)", written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan, directed by Morgan Sackett||Won|||
|"Jeremy Bearimy", written by Megan Amram, directed by Trent O'Donnell||Nominated|||
|Peabody Awards||Entertainment honoree||The Good Place||Won|||
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Comedy Series||The Good Place||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series||Maya Rudolph||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||Ted Danson||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series||Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan (for "Janet(s)")||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series||Ted Danson||Nominated|||
|Best Musical or Comedy Series||The Good Place||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Television Series||The Good Place||Nominated|||
|TCA Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Comedy||The Good Place||Nominated|||
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Television: Comedy Series||The Good Place||Nominated|||
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