I’ve watched a lot of TV shows over the course of my 22-year-old life. Some were good, some bad, some I loved all the way up until the end when all they had to do was stick the landing and instead they tripped and fell on their face (Looking at you “Game of Thrones”).
But out of all those shows, there are very few that are truly special. Those shows that when all is said and done, and the credits finally roll you’re left with a sort of sad, empty feeling inside. You can’t believe a show that made you happy and sad, made you laugh and maybe even made you cry is over. No more new episodes, no more new laughs. To me, “The Good Place” is one of those special shows.
Right from the jump all the way back in season one, the show hooked me with its brilliant premise. Eleanor, played by the brilliant and hilarious Kristen Bell, was dead. She was in the afterlife, and was being welcomed to the newest stage of her existence by none other than Ted Danson, who played the character of Michael, the architect of Eleanor’s afterlife.
We were quickly introduced to three more wonderful characters, Chidi Anagonye, Eleanor’s supposed soulmate, along with the Buddhist monk, Jianyu, A.K.A. Jason Mendoza and fabulous socialite Tahani Al-Jamil. The characters, played by William Jackson Harper, Manny Jacinto and Jameela Jamil respectively, each came to life with their own unique quirks, and before long this group of lovable misfits was embroiled in one adventure after another.
The show does an excellent job of interspersing questions of philosophy, existentialism and commentary on what it means to be a “good person” without ever feeling too serious or overbearing. This continues into season four which explores some of the show’s most complicated questions yet.
The second season took an unexpected but delightful turn as the character of Janet, brought to life by the charming D’Arcy Carden, began to get some deeper character development. Up until this point Janet had been pretty much relegated to the role of interdimensional assistant, as she was an all-knowing being that could create pretty much anything. Carden finally got a chance to show off her talents when Janet’s emotions and personality began to develop, and complete chaos ensued.
It’s difficult to say who my favorite character is, as the show did such a good job of getting me to care about all of them, but Chidi in particular is one of the most creative characters I’ve ever seen in a TV show. A professor of ethics and moral philosophy who is so wrapped up in making the right choices that he can’t make any, Chidi struggles the most out of almost any character. Jackson Harper does such a good job with the character that you can almost feel a kind of secondary anxiety every time Chidi is forced into making a decision. And since Chidi seems to struggle the most, he’s also the character who seems to have gone through the most growth and change by the end of the series.
Jacinto and Jamil also give incredible performances as Jason and Tahani. Jason is the Jacksonville delinquent whose subpar educational opportunities have left him a little less intelligent than the others but might be the character with the biggest heart. Tahani, a less than genuine philanthropic socialite with a penchant for name-dropping, has her own emotional struggles to deal with as she never received the love and approval she so desperately wanted from her parents.
Season four took our main characters on all new adventures running into all sorts of crazy problems that forced them to grow and develop as characters, finally giving them the chance to become the best versions of themselves. Of course, in classic Good Place fashion, just when I thought I had everything figured out, it all went sideways once again.
The Judge, played by Maya Rudolph, made several reappearances throughout the season, and the drama reached an all-time high just before the midseason break, forcing me to wait seven painful weeks for the show’s return.
The final season gave me everything I could’ve wanted from this show and so much more. Eleanor, Chidi, Jason, Tahani, Michael and Janet all got satisfying conclusions to their individual journeys, and each of them got to have one final great individual moment before the show ended for good.
These incredible characters are what made “The Good Place” a truly special show. While it’s wit and storytelling are certainly great, watching these people grow and change so much over the course of four seasons is what made the show such a joy to watch. It’s also what made the ending of the show both perfect and bittersweet at the same time. As much as I wanted more, it was clear by the end that this series was a complete story. There is simply nothing more to say.