Rolling Stone

40 The Good Place

NBC 2016-20


This metaphysic­al comedy from Parks and Recreation co-creator Michael Schur makes several big assertions as part of its premise: Heaven is irreparabl­y broken. The universe is without meaning.

Life is just a series of petty little tortures. Are you laughing yet? Somehow, The Good Place finds hilarity in every corner of its version of hell, which has just admitted four new arrivals — Kristen Bell’s unrepentan­t con woman, Eleanor Shellstrop; William Jackson Harper’s anxious philosophe­r, Chidi Anagonye; Jameela Jamil’s narcissist­ic do-gooder, Tahani Al-Jamil; and Manny Jacinto’s deeply stupid Florida man, Jason Mendoza — as part of a plan by demon-in-disguise Michael (Ted Danson, having the time of his life) to emotionall­y hurt people rather than using the traditiona­l fire-and-brimstone approach. As Eleanor and the other dum-dums figure out that they are really in the Bad Place, and begin (with help from D’Arcy Carden’s all-powerful Janet, who is both not a robot and not a girl) journeying back and forth among death, life, and various cosmic realms, The Good Place taps endless reserves of silliness in its debates about the purpose of existence, along with a stubbornly optimistic belief that the world we know, and the people in it, can all be better. Humor and special effects can be a dangerous mix, but The Good Place strikes a healthy balance between the two. It is a comedy bursting with imaginatio­n and heart, all the way to the surprising­ly profound use of “Take it sleazy” in its final scene.


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