Have you ever gone through TV channels or through your Netflix account, looking at the many names of shows and just skipping over them, perhaps with a momentary judgement towards them? Maybe their names seem over the top or the logo seems silly, or perhaps even the genre is not your usual thing.
But then, one day, you’re extremely bored or you read or heard about some of those shows or films and decide, “yeah, I’ll watch the first episode,” and suddenly “how bad could it be?” turns into a day or binge-watching an entire season, or looking forward to the next week’s entry.
Has that ever happened to you? It’s happened to me with increased frequency in the past few weeks, specifically with Netflix. I am usually open to whatever media has a good story and characters, but I must admit that when it comes to live action series, I often dismiss them too easily.
But the upside is that when I do pay attention to these shows, when I realise that my rash judgements are nothing short of ignorant and decide to correct my mistakes, I often find not only series I enjoy, perhaps more than I’m comfortable admitting, but true gems of entertainment and storytelling.
I’ve gone through this a couple of times already and this is perhaps the last time, for now that I will. This is the latest show that’s enlightened me with how good it is.
The Good Place: I’ll be honest, if it wasn’t for some acquaintances mentioning this show in passing, I wouldn’t have even watched the first episode. Among the many titles Netflix shows me, The Good Place simply wasn’t among them or if it was, it showed in the middle of a row with more appealing options, even if those were programmes I’d already seen in the past.
But much like the other two shows I’ve mentioned in the past week, the moment I saw the first episode, it hooked me thoroughly and it was the cleverness of its premise, its unique perspective on the afterlife that did it. In fact, the show hooked me with the answer to a simple question: “who was right?” in the context of the major religions and their interpretation of how life after death is.
The response: “They all had the same amount right, about 5 percent.” There’s more to that response, a bit of exposition that is as clever as it is hilarious, but I won’t ruin that for you because if you take my word for it and give The Good Place a shot, that scene is just too good to spoil.
The Good Place is about Eleanor. She died and found herself in the Good Place, where only the best of the best go after their deaths, a place so good that the greatest minds of our world, our greatest leaders and thinkers just weren’t good enough to make it. This is the place for the truly selfless, the profoundly righteous, those whose lives were all about serving others.
The Good Place is divided into different neighbourhoods, each with their own unique design and venues, from restaurants to frozen yogurt franchises. Each soul also has their own house and best of all, the moment they arrive, the “system” matches them to another soul, someone who is their absolute soul mate.
Everything sounds great, right? Well, there’s one inconvenience: Eleanor wasn’t even remotely good enough to deserve going to the Good Place. She’s certain some cables were crossed and she got the spot assigned to another Eleanor that died at the same time she did.
Eleanor deserves to go to the Bad Place, but she desperately wants to stay in the Good Place, and so her new adventure starts, as she desperately tries to cheat the system to stay where she is, be it by lying outright, or using her soul-mate to teach her to be a better person and anything in between. And considering her mere presence seems to cause increasing havoc on the neighbourhood, well, you can just imagine how amazing things get.
But it’s not just this conflict that keeps me hooked, but the characters themselves, their relationships and how much they grow despite being dead already. Even the most despicable character has moments of tenderness and reflection, where you understand what makes them tick or how close they are to cracking.
Performances of course as superb. William Jackson Harper’s character Chidi has some super freak outs that are just a pleasure to watch, and everyone has such wonderful chemistry together and even more so with Ted Danson, who plays Michael, the architect of the Good Place neighbour and human culture aficionado. He’s lovably weird and weirdly lovable.
You can find the first season on Netflix and the current one is airing weekly on the platform as well and I recommend you check it out.
In fact, now that I think about it, all three series I’ve mentioned in this little series of articles are ones that you can watch on Netflix but have weekly episode releases, which for me is still bizarre when it comes to the platform they’re on.