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The Good Place
The Good Place is an American fantasy-comedy television series created by Michael Schur. The series premiered on September 19, 2016, on NBC. The series

View Wikipedia Article

The Good Place Genre
  • Comedy
  • Philosophical fiction[1][2][3]
  • Fantasy[4][5]
  • Dystopia[6][7]
Created by Michael SchurStarring
  • Kristen Bell
  • William Jackson Harper
  • Jameela Jamil
  • D'Arcy Carden
  • Manny Jacinto
  • Ted Danson
Composer(s) David SchwartzCountry of origin United StatesOriginal language(s) EnglishNo. of seasons 2No. of episodes 26 (list of episodes)ProductionExecutive producer(s)
  • Michael Schur
  • David Miner
  • Morgan Sackett
  • Drew Goddard
Producer(s)
  • David Hyman
  • Joe Mande
  • Megan Amram
Editor(s)
  • Colin Patton
  • Matthew Barbato
  • Eric Kissack
Camera setup Single-cameraRunning time 22 minutesProduction company(s)
  • Fremulon
  • 3 Arts Entertainment
  • Universal Television
ReleaseOriginal network NBCAudio format 5.1 Dolby Digital with DVS on SAPOriginal release September 19, 2016 (2016-09-19) – presentExternal links Website

The Good Place is an American fantasy-comedy television series created by Michael Schur. The series premiered on September 19, 2016, on NBC.

The series focuses on Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), a woman 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. She realizes that she was sent there by mistake and must hide her morally imperfect behavior and try to become a better, 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 helping the inhabitants.

The Good Place has received positive reviews since its premiere. It has been praised for its performances, writing, originality, setting and tone. In addition, its first-season twist ending and its exploration and creative use of ethics and philosophy have been positively received.

In January 2017, NBC renewed the series for a second season of 13 episodes, which premiered in September 2017. In November 2017, NBC renewed the series for a 13-episode third season, which will premiere on September 27, 2018.

Contents
  • 1 Synopsis
    • 1.1 Season 1
    • 1.2 Season 2
  • 2 Cast and characters
    • 2.1 Main
    • 2.2 Recurring
  • 3 Episodes
  • 4 Production
    • 4.1 Development and casting
  • 5 Broadcast and release
    • 5.1 Home media
  • 6 Reception
    • 6.1 Ratings
    • 6.2 Critical response
      • 6.2.1 Critics' top-ten lists
    • 6.3 Accolades
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links
Synopsis

Season 1 Main article: The Good Place (season 1)

After her death, Eleanor Shellstrop is welcomed to her afterlife in "The Good Place" (opposed to 'The Bad Place') by Michael, an immortal architect, who specifically designed their afterlife community to accommodate everyone's specific tastes. Soon after, she realizes she does not fit in and has been mistaken for someone else. Eleanor quickly tells her assigned soulmate, a university ethics professor named Chidi, that she has been mistaken for someone else. He agrees to teach Eleanor to become a better person to earn her spot. Her neighbor is introduced to her as a silent Buddhist monk named Jianyu Li, whose soulmate is socialite Tahani Al-Jamil. Jianyu reveals that he knows Eleanor is there by mistake, and that he himself 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, Tahani tries to work out a way in which Eleanor and Jason can be allowed to stay in The Good Place. When those efforts prove fruitless, an eternal judge named Shawn rules that Eleanor and Jason must be sent to the Bad Place. In the season finale's twist ending, Eleanor deduces that the four have actually been in The Bad Place all along, and Michael reveals his demonic plot to have the four human inhabitants torture each other for all eternity emotionally and psychologically. He then announces his intent to wipe their memories and separate the four, but just before he does so, Eleanor smuggles a note to herself inside the mouth of the artificial intelligence caretaker named Janet.

Season 2 Main article: The Good Place (season 2)

Michael is given permission to start again once, erasing the group's memories and attempts the experiment in human torture again, but the group figures out the truth repeatedly. After 802 reboots, the other demons stage a coup against Michael and threaten to inform his boss about the repeated failures. He eventually teams up with the group and promises to get them all into the real good place. The group later escapes with Michael's help, and they attempt to get to the Good Place by appealing to an entity known as the judge, named Gen. She gives tests to each human which play to their weaknesses. They all fail except Eleanor. Gen is also not convinced that the improvements the four of them have shown are due to them being good people. Instead, she believes that their changes are due to their desire for "moral desert". Michael appeals, believing that all they need is a push and they are all placed back in their bodies moments before death without memory of their afterlife, with their deaths now replaced with near-death experiences to give them a chance to overcome their flaws for the right reasons. After a false start, Michael intervenes and points Eleanor in the direction of Chidi, which reignites her passion for ethics and causes her to seek out Chidi.

Cast and characters Main Kristen Bell portrays series protagonist Eleanor Shellstrop. The cast of The Good Place at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con
  • Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop, a deceased saleswoman from Arizona who entered an afterlife utopia called "The Good Place" seemingly after being mistaken for a human rights lawyer by the same name.[8] With the aid of her alleged soulmate, Chidi, she attempts to reform by learning about ethics, believing she still has a chance to earn a legitimate spot in the Good Place.[9] In season 2, Eleanor becomes the de facto leader in the group "Team Cockroach" after a truce with Michael to keep Shawn from finding out about the reboots in exchange for helping the humans get to the real Good Place. She is the only person from "Team Cockroach" who, having passed Gen's test, qualifies for the real Good Place which she hides from her friends.
  • William Jackson Harper as Chidi Anagonye, a deceased ethics professor who was born in Nigeria and raised in Senegal and Eleanor's alleged soulmate. He is the first person to learn her secret and begins teaching both her and Jason ethics. He died on earth when an air conditioner fell on his head outside his apartment building.[10] Chidi's native language is French, although within the afterlife his speech is translated into the language of his listener, therefore appearing to speak English to Eleanor and the audience. In the end of the second season he is shown to also speak fluent English.
  • Jameela Jamil as Tahani Al-Jamil, a deceased, wealthy philanthropist born in Pakistan, raised in the United Kingdom, and who went to school in France. Tahani, whose full name means "Congratulations Beautiful", is a seemingly good-natured soul with a cheerful and helpful attitude who in life was constantly overshadowed by her younger sister, Kamilah. She died when a statue of her sister at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, which she was trying to tear down, crushes her. Initially, Eleanor dislikes Tahani, finding her positive attitude, condescending manner, and her tendency to name drop obnoxious, but the two eventually become friends.[11]
  • D'Arcy Carden as Janet, a programmed guide who acts as the neighborhood's main source of information, analogous to an intelligent personal assistant.[12] She is the 25th generation of "Janet" programs like her, dating back to a predecessor featuring a click wheel. She has infinite knowledge of the universe, can provide residents anything they desire, and details everything of what is happening in the Good Place but does have some flaws. Janet's programming is incompatible with lies and must tell the objective truth. In season 1, after she was rebooted the first time, Jason and Janet fell in love with each other and got married. It is revealed in season 2 that her feelings for Jason have remained despite memory wipes, causing glitches when Jason and Tahani fall in love.
    • Carden also plays "Bad Janet", Janet's counterpart from the Bad Place.[13]
  • Manny Jacinto as Jason Mendoza from Jacksonville, Florida, an amateur DJ, devoted Jacksonville Jaguars fan, and backup dancer who sold fake drugs to college students and died locked in a safe as part of a stupid robbery attempt.[14] Jason is immature, easily distracted and only partially aware of what is happening to them. He is first introduced as "Jianyu Li", a supposedly silent Buddhist monk and Tahani's soulmate. After Janet is rebooted in Season 1, Jason develops feelings for her because she is the only one who is nice to him; the two marry, but because his memory is wiped in the season 1 finale, he is unaware of his marriage to Janet until he is told about it in season 2.
  • Ted Danson as Michael, the architect of the Good Place where Eleanor and her fellow humans reside. The name Michael (מִיכָאֵל) is Hebrew for "Who is like God?", which may be linked to his supernatural status. Michael exhibits a deep fascination for humans and human life, delighting in things ranging from paper clips to suspenders to car keys. In the first-season finale, it is discovered that he is a Bad Place demon who constructed a fake "Good Place" designed to trick Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason into torturing each other.[15] However, he ends up repeatedly restarting his experiment when the four keep figuring out that "The Good Place" is "The Bad Place", leading to his routine failure, as well as hiding the constant resets from his superiors. As part of a truce with Eleanor to avoid exposure by Vicky and a chance to reform his behavior, Michael agrees to let the humans keep their memories and help them get into the real Good Place as well as to take Chidi's ethics lessons. At the end of Season 2, Michael convinces the Judge to allow Eleanor and the others to attempt to correct their personal flaws by allowing them to return to the real world without memories of the afterlife.
Recurring
  • Tiya Sircar as the "real Eleanor Shellstrop", a human rights lawyer mistakenly sent to the Bad Place, who was killed trying to save Eleanor from a traffic accident, causing confusion because the two Eleanors were close to one another and died almost simultaneously. In the finale of season 1, she is revealed to be a demonic colleague of Michael's named Vicky Sengupta, who is part of the experiment. After having to go through hundreds of Michael's failed attempts, Vicky blackmails him with her records and threatens to expose his failure if he doesn't put her in charge of the next reboot. This makes Michael desperate enough to team up with the humans, whose memories he only pretends to wipe. Michael later successfully convinces Shawn that she betrayed them during the experiments, leading to her imprisonment in the Bad Place.
  • Adam Scott as Trevor. In season 1, he is portrayed as a sinister figure representing the Bad Place. He is allegedly sent when Eleanor's true identity is revealed, to take her to the Bad Place. He leads an entourage of demons that parties endlessly and bullies Michael.[16]
  • Marc Evan Jackson as Shawn, an all-powerful Eternal Judge who decides on matters between the two realms. He is called in to hear Eleanor's fate. In the season 1 finale, he is revealed to be Michael's boss. While he gives Michael one more chance, he is oblivious to the fact that Michael failed more than 800 times and later accepts Michael's claim that the second experiment was a success, promoting him to oversee an entire universe of neighborhoods.
  • Maribeth Monroe as Mindy St. Claire, a former corporate lawyer, cocaine addict, who one day came up with the idea of a foundation to help people but was killed while on the way to implement the idea. Because of this, her score was exactly zero at the time of her death, leading to the creation of the Medium Place as a compromise between the two Places. While she is not tortured, her situation appears to be one of perpetual boredom. It is implied that Mindy died in the 1980s as evidenced in her surroundings (such as having a small cathode ray tube TV set with VHS tapes of Cannonball Run II and a People magazine featuring Pierce Brosnan that she keeps reading).
  • Jason Mantzoukas as Derek Hoffstettler, an artificial "rebound guy" that Janet creates to get over Jason. He is later sent to Mindy St. Claire as a diversion.
  • Maya Rudolph as Judge Hydrogen (or "Gen" for short), an impartial inter-dimensional judge who rules on matters involving the Good Place and the Bad Place. She was responsible for Mindy St. Claire's afterlife. Michael successfully convinces her to put the four humans back on Earth to test his theory that they can reform even after what happened.
  • Mike O'Malley as the Doorman, the gatekeeper of the doorway between the Bad Place and Earth.
Episodes Main article: List of The Good Place episodes SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedFirst airedLast aired113September 19, 2016 (2016-09-19)January 19, 2017 (2017-01-19)213September 20, 2017 (2017-09-20)February 1, 2018 (2018-02-01)313September 27, 2018 (2018-09-27)TBA Production Development and casting Series creator and executive producer Michael Schur

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.[17] 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[8] – 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.[18]

William Jackson Harper was cast as Chris on February 11, 2016,[10] though the character was renamed Chidi. Jameela Jamil was cast as Tessa on February 25, 2016,[11] 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".[14] 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"[13] – although writer Megan Amram later admitted that this was an intentional hoax.[19]

The final premise for the show, including the afterlife element, was ultimately announced on May 15, 2016, when NBC announced its schedule for the 2016–17 TV season.[20]

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.[21]

The series' setting and premises, as well as the serialized cliffhangers, were modeled on Lost, a favorite of Schur. 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 'Is this anything?'" He then added "I imagine this going in the Lost way, with cliffhangers and future storylines."[22]

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.[23]

Critics have also suggested resemblances to 1960s surreal TV show The Prisoner in its isolated, rule-bound setting.[24][25][26]

Broadcast and release

The series premiered on on September 19, 2016.[27] 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.[28] On November 21, 2017, NBC renewed the series for a 13-episode third season, which will premiere on September 27, 2018.[29][30]

From the start of the series' second season in September 2017, Netflix distributed it to various international markets, with new episodes being released a few hours after their original American airing.[31]

Home media

The first season was released on DVD in region 1 on October 17, 2017.[32] The second season was released on DVD on July 17, 2018.[33]

Reception Ratings Season Time slot (ET) Episodes Season premiere Season finale TV season Rank Viewers
(in millions) Date Viewers
(in millions) Date Viewers
(in millions) 1 Monday 10:00 pm (premiere)
Thursday 8:30 pm 13 September 19, 2016 8.04[34] January 19, 2017 3.93[35] 2016–17 #77 5.72[36] 2 Wednesday 10:00 pm (premiere)
Thursday 8:30 pm September 20, 2017 5.28[37] February 1, 2018 3.19[38] 2017–18 5.78[39] Critical response Ted Danson has received acclaim for his work on the series.

The Good Place has received positive reviews from television critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has a rating of 91%, based on 53 reviews, with an average rating of 7.84/10. 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."[40] On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 78 out of 100, based on reviews from 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[41]

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."[42]

The second season has received highly positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season has a rating of 100%, based on 35 reviews, with an average rating of 8.62/10. 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."[43] On Metacritic, the second season has a score of 87 out of 100, based on reviews from 10 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[44]

Multiple critics have praised the show for its exploration and creative use of ethics and philosophy.[45][1][46] Featured topics include the trolley problem thought experiment (originally devised by Philippa Foot),[47][48] the categorical imperative (first formulated by Immanuel Kant),[48][49] T. M. Scanlon's What We Owe to Each Other,[50] and the works of Aristotle and Søren Kierkegaard.[48][51] 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."[49] 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."[48] For their part, several philosophers have celebrated the show's largely accurate popularization of their line of work while noting some minor inaccuracies.[1][51]

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."[47] 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."[12] Erik Adams of The A.V. Club praised the show as portraying an "uncommonly decent TV world".[9] Stuart Heritage of The Guardian called The Good Place "relentlessly optimistic",[15] a quality which Stephanie Palumbo of Vulture called "a salve for despair in the Trump era".[50]

Critics' top-ten lists Publication Rank 2016[52] 2017[53] American Film Institute N/A Shortlisted BuddyTV N/A 7 Complex N/A 6 E! N/A 8 Entertainment Weekly 8 4 Esquire N/A 4 Film School Rejects N/A 6 Flood Magazine N/A 9 HuffPost N/A Shortlisted Las Vegas Weekly 4 5 Lincoln Journal Star 5 8 Los Angeles Times Shortlisted N/A New York Post N/A 7 Newsday N/A 10 Now N/A 8 Omaha World-Herald 10 N/A Paste N/A 2 People 9 N/A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 8 7 Reason 10a N/A RogerEbert.com N/A 3 Rolling Stone N/A 4 Salon N/A Shortlisted San Francisco Chronicle 7 N/A San Jose Mercury News N/A 8 The A.V. Club 10 1 The Atlantic N/A Shortlisted The Boston Globe N/A 9 The New York Times N/A Shortlisted The Ringer N/A 9 The Salt Lake Tribune N/A 6 The Village Voice 9 6 TV Guide 7 1 TVLine N/A 9 Uproxx N/A 4 USA Today N/A 2 Variety N/A 3 Vox 10 N/A Vulture 8 4 Wilmington Star-News N/A 2

  1. ^ Tied with Patria O Muerte: Cuba, Fatherland or Death

Accolades ear Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref. 2016 Critics' Choice Television Awards Most Exciting New Series The Good Place Won [54] IGN Awards Best TV Comedy Series Nominated [55] 2017 American Film Institute Awards Top 10 TV Programs of the Year Won [56] Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actor in a Comedy Series Ted Danson [57] Best Actress in a Comedy Series Kristen Bell Nominated Gold Derby Awards Comedy Lead Actor Ted Danson [58] People's Choice Awards Favorite New Comedy Series The Good Place [59] Saturn Awards Best Fantasy Television Series [60] TCA Awards Individual Achievement in Comedy Kristen Bell [61] Outstanding Achievement in Comedy The Good Place Outstanding New Program 2018 Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form "Michael's Gambit" written and directed by Michael Schur [62] "The Trolley Problem" written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan and directed by Dean Holland Won [62] Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Maya Rudolph Nominated [63] Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Ted Danson Nominated Saturn Awards Best Fantasy Television Series The Good Place Nominated [64] TCA Awards Individual Achievement in Comedy Ted Danson [65] Outstanding Achievement in Comedy The Good Place Won Program of the Year Nominated References
  1. ^ a b c Wansbrough, Aleksandr Andreas (November 8, 2017). "Kantian comedy: the philosophy of The Good Place". The Conversation. Retrieved December 20, 2017. 
  2. ^ Lombrozo, Tania (October 23, 2017). "The Good Psychology In 'The Good Place'". NPR. Retrieved December 20, 2017. 
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  6. ^ Nussbaum, Emily (February 6, 2017). "Dystopia in The Good Place". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 17, 2018. 
  7. ^ Misra, Sulagna (October 24, 2016). "The Dystopia of Black Mirror, the Utopia of The Good Place". GQ. Retrieved February 17, 2018. 
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