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The Good Place

Started by caseagainstfaith, March 06, 2022, 10:41:56 PM

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caseagainstfaith

Hey, this post is my first post here in probably years. How y'all doing?

So, I recently watched "The Good Place" TV show on Netflix.  Total of 53 30-minute episodes, so it isn't a long run show.  The premise at least doesn't seem particularly atheistic.  The premise is that after you die you go to "The Good Place" or "The Bad Place".  Akin of course to heaven and hell.  But we are told that no religion really gets the afterlife right, most religions get about 10% right.  It is a comedy, to a degree anyway.  Kristen Bell plays a woman who was supposed to go to The Bad Place but was mistakenly sent to The Good Place.  While Ted Danson plays an "Architect", seemingly something like an angel, not a human.  So, some of the initial comedy revolves around Bell's character trying to avoid being found out and being sent to The Bad Place.

One of the other main characters was an ethics professor during his life on Earth.  This actually allows some moments of actual philosophy to creep into the show.  Kind of like how some real science and physics would get a moment here or there on The Big Bang Theory, some real philosophy gets moments here and there and The Good Place.  Such as, they name drop and occasionally quote philosophers like Kant and Hume, etc.  One episode dealt with solipsism and I'm sure many (most?) viewers didn't even know that word.

Despite being a show about the afterlife, its conclusion was kinda atheistic or perhaps Buddhist.  This site used to have a spoiler tag option that you could hide spoilers, but I don't see a spoiler tag in the options above.  So, I'll skip a few lines then put some of the details about the main plot twists and conclusion.







At the end of the first season, a big plot twist, none of the characters were actually in The Good Place. They were actually in The Bad Place all along, where Ted Danson's character is actually a demon where he wanted the characters to think they were in The Good Place and then torture each other.  One commentator likened this to Jean-Paul Sartre's play "No Exit," the most famous line of which is "Hell is other people."

When the show only has a few episodes left before its conclusion, the characters finally make it to the real Good Place.  Only they find that the people already there are bored to the point of being basically zombies.  Having everything you want instantly given to you loses its thrill after a while and then you have nothing to do, and an eternity left to do it.  So, they manage to get the rules of The Good Place changed such that you can stay there for as long as you want.  But, when you have had enough and ready to end it, there is a door you can walk through and disappear.  So, in the final episode, the main characters complete what they feel like they want to complete. And when they feel at peace and ready to go, they go through the door.

Thus, the conclusion was not what I expected for a show about the afterlife.

Please visit my site at http://www.caseagainstfaith.com  featuring critiques of Lee Strobel and other apologetics.

Cassia

I don't have NF, but that sounds interesting. I do like Ted Danson. I remember watching "Body Heat" and I didn't connect him to his role for about 10 minutes, LOL.

Blackleaf

Damn it. I literally came here specifically to write about The Good Place, and I see you beat me to the punch. I just finished it. Once I started, I binged it over the course of a few days. Wow. The show is so unique. Once you see where the story is going, you think, "I know there's still another season left. How the Hell are they going to manage that?" Then the show throws a curve ball at you, completely changing the direction of the plot, but in a natural and fascinating way.

I love these characters, especially Chidi. The guy has a loveable heart of gold, and he reminds me a lot of my brother-in-law. As a fellow nerd, I also find him the most relatable. Jason is a close second for me, though. While a bit of a stereotype, the guy is just a loveable goofball, who is surprisingly wise. The gang often underestimates him for his aloofness, but when he gets into his stories about people in his dance crew, it's almost always relevant to the situation, and explains the idea he's trying to get across in a very down-to-earth way.

Please, if you watch this show, do it blind. The plot twists and surprises are most of the fun of the show. But if you need an idea of what it's about so you can know if you're interested, here's my best non-spoilery summary of what The Good Place is about: All the potential problems with models of an afterlife, in narrative form.

Also, yeah. The spoiler tags seem to be broken now. Probably a result of the mods being disabled to allow the forums to...work.

Speaking of which, here are my thoughts on each season. Do not proceed until you've finished watching it.



Season 1 spoilers: Eleanor is dead, and she quickly realizes she isn't like the others. She was apparently placed here by mistake. Her soulmate, Chidi, is put in a difficult situation, as he feels he's ethically bound to try to save Eleanor. However, doing so forces him into several ethical dilemmas, making him uncomfortable. I thought this was going to be the entire formula of the show, but midway through the season, Eleanor turns herself in. That alone changes up the formula so much, but then we get that big twist at the end. They were all in the Bad Place all along. I did not see that coming. Turned out, they all had major flaws, and they were put there to torture each other. That's one of those perfect kind of twists, which changes the way you see everything that came before. *Chef's kiss.* Wonderfully done.

Season 2 spoilers: So now that the jig is up, what do we do now? Well, Michael erases everyone's memories and starts over. But it quickly becomes apparent that it's not working. The humans keep figuring it out. It reminds me of The Matrix, and how the machines originally put everyone in a paradise environment, but the humans immediately saw through that illusion, and the machines had to make a more believable, harsher reality to trap them in. Maybe Michael should have watched more movies.

So Michael resets everyone hundreds of times, but his boss still thinks he's on version 2, so he's in big trouble. Michael and the humans decide to work together for their common benefit. Surprisingly, Michael changes and genuinely becomes one of the gang. The clues he leaves them for his plan of escape were so clever. They made sense, yet they went over my head at first, so they weren't too obvious.

Season 3 spoilers: Here's where the show really goes off the rails, but in a good way. They could have easily stuck to their old formula, have the characters go through a new fake Good Place, but this time, counting points to prove to the judge that they can actually improve. Instead, Michael is allowed to mess with the timeline. He saves everyone from death, trusting that their brushes with death will cause them to re-evaluate their lives. But Michael can't help himself, and he keeps meddling over and over. Eventually, he screws up, creates a back-door for the demons, blows his cover, and now everyone knows what's going on. They're no longer able to earn points, because their motivations are tainted with the knowledge of what's at stake. So what do they do now? Well, if they can't help themselves, maybe they can help their loved ones instead. Why not?

This one is probably my favorite season. We learn a lot more about the characters, and finally see them grow past their issues. It had me yelling "God damn it" at Michael, when he opened the portal and fucked everything up, but it had me on my toes. So many twists and laughs. Then there's the tragedy of seeing Chidi have to give up his memories to save everyone, after he had just gotten together with Eleanor again. And there's that guy named Doug, who's wasting his whole life on the hopes of getting a reward in the afterlife, and it doesn't even work. A clear parallel to real people, making sacrifices to try to get a reward in Heaven. This season just has so much going for it.[/spoiler]

Season 4 spoilers: So now we're back in the fake Good Place again, but now Eleanor is in charge. The earlier part of this season was very stressful, but I was still enjoying it. The people brought in as the test subjects were just...bad. They showed no hints of progress, and I hated all of them. Especially Brent. He was just too real. I know too many Brents. But that's intentional, because the whole source of conflict now is between the original four human characters trying to nudge the new humans in the right direction. I just thought we'd see a little more progress. I didn't see any hints of character development.

But then we're told that they won. So the judge does the only reasonable thing, and decides to start over from scratch, starting a new timeline from all the way back to the original amoebas to make it easier to judge people. Of course, they eventually convince the judge to try a new system instead. Because, it turns out, the whole idea of an eternal reward or eternal punishment based on a finite life is kind of fucked up. So now, life is not the test, but the lesson. The first stage of the afterlife is the test, which humans may take as often as necessary until they pass the test.

Finally, they've done it. They fixed everything. Even the demons are happy, because they still get to torture humans, but in a more creative, psychological way. The gang gets to go to The Good Place, and everybody's happy. ...So what now? I know something has to go wrong. Holy shit, eternal bliss actually turns out to be a bad thing. I love that they went there. Their solution makes so much sense, and they didn't even try to pad it out by trying a bunch of other solutions first. They found the solution to the problem almost right away. For existence to have meaning, it has to have an ending. Everybody gets to exist in this perfect, happy place for as long as they want to. Then when they're ready, they simply pass through a door and stop existing.

Now comes the bittersweet moments, as we see all these characters we've come to know and love, each eventually reaching the point where they're ready to move on. Seeing Chidi go was hard, and hearing Eleanor cry, as she wasn't ready to say goodbye really hurt. But of course, once she knows he's only staying for her sake, she realizes she's being selfish by making him stay. Showing how much she's grown, she puts his needs above her own and says goodbye. I couldn't think of a more fitting end to the series. It's so fucking good.

Only thing I thought was a missed opportunity was the fact that the humans taught what is essentially an unfeeling artificial intelligence how to love, and that never even came up when trying to convince the judge that they deserved another chance. I mean, good grief. Janet didn't have emotions, and yet Jason got her to fall in love with him. That kind of a miracle has to count for some points, but they never address it, apart from saying it's weird.

End of spoilers. Do not read above.
"Oh, wearisome condition of humanity,
Born under one law, to another bound;
Vainly begot, and yet forbidden vanity,
Created sick, commanded to be sound."
--Fulke Greville

Shiranu

I started it, enjoyed it, don't know why I didn't keep watching.

It's comedic and philosophic, so pretty much specifically written for me... and it even has a Buddhist monk... sorta...
Every day is a good day to *remove from server* an autocrat.