American comedy fantasy television series The Good Place is a show that answers a question a lot of people seem to be asking in light of the global pandemic that has brought out the worst in so many people: What does it mean to be good?
The show, which premiered on NBC in 2016 and aired until 2020, begins by following Eleanor Shellstrop as she is welcomed to the afterlife, where she has gotten into the “Good Place.” Spoiler alert: she got in by mistake.
While the plot of The Good Place evolves through its four-season run, the first season watches Eleanor as she tries to become a good person to avoid getting found out and sent to the “Bad Place.” She is aided by her soulmate, Chidi Anagonye, who teaches her about ethics and moral philosophy. Namely, how to be good.
The series strikes a fine balance between a school lecture, comedy skit, and the reality of humanity. While it does introduce the viewer to several very bad people—some of whom fall so hard into the stereotype of “evil” that it’s a little nauseating—it also introduces people like Chidi and Eleanor who would be fascinating to talk to.
The show also does a remarkable job of keeping the main cast real and relatable, even as they become better ethically. Eleanor starts making choices to help people while allowing herself to be vulnerable with those she loves—something many people struggle with, but she doesn’t stop being snarky or drinking too much.
The Good Place points out time and time again that good people are not perfect people simply because they’re human. It’s a very validating experience to watch a group of people become good without losing their personality, and to see them making mistakes even as they try to do the right thing.
Ultimately, all four seasons follow the main cast as they strive to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. The series is funny, thought-provoking, and most importantly it provides a certain kind of inspiration that everyone could benefit from in these trying times. Being good is about helping people be better. It’s about working on making yourself better. It’s about being human and imperfect, and trying to make the best of it anyways.
The Good Place was created by Michael Schur, and can now be accessed on Netflix.