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TV Series Review

In most television shows, the death of an important character is the end of something. If it's not the end of the show, then it's usually the end of the character. But even in programs wherein the dead might start sucking air again at any moment (welcome back, Game of Throne's Jon Snow! Hope you had a nice rest!), it's often used as a cliffhanger at the end of the season.

But in NBC's The Good Place, death isn't the end. It's the beginning … of one of the strangest, funniest and most problematic sitcoms on television.


Eleanor Shellstrop is, technically, dead.

Upon her death, Eleanor was spirited up to the Good Place—a beautiful, suburban-like heaven filled with green lawns, big houses and a huge number of frozen yogurt shops.

"People love frozen yogurt, what can I tell you," explains Michael, who designed this particular neighborhood in the Good Place.

Except, not really. The Good Place is actually a passive-aggressive Bad Place, wherein Eleanor and her afterlife denizens subtly torture each other. Well, at least until they realize it's the Bad Place, and then they all have to be shipped off to a Worse Place, or sneak off to a Better Place, or … something.

But Eleanor's not exploring this great, confusing afterlife alone, thank heave— or, thank goodne— or, oh, never mind. She's with her best friends-slash-torturers! Moral philosopher Chidi Anagonye does his best to be a good person, no matter what sort of place he's in at the moment, with mixed results. Tahani loves nothing better than to brag about everything she's done. And then, of course, there's Jason Mendoza, a rabid Jacksonville Jaguars fan who believes throwing Molotov cocktails are the solution to every ill.

"Anytime I had a problem and I threw a Molotov cocktail, boom!" he says. "Right away, I had a different problem!"

Michael's there too, perhaps trying to help his onetime Bad-Place charges, perhaps trying to get in better graces with his bad, bad bosses, or perhaps still just looking for one good frozen yogurt shop in all of the afterlife. And then there's Janet, this afterlife's version of Siri—always chipper, often helpful and sometimes very, very inconvenient.


While The Good Place is certainly predicated on a belief in the immortal soul, an afterlife and either post-mortem rewards and/or punishments, NBC's sitcom does in no way depict a Christian heaven or hell. People of all faiths, or of no faith, are liable to land anywhere on this post-life ladder. Do not come here looking for theological insight.

But could you come here looking for laughs? Depends.

In some respects, The Good Place is a good show. Some say it's great—rare praise for a network sitcom. Indeed, the writing is crisp, the acting (especially Kristen Bell, who plays Eleanor) is sharp, and the setup is, if nothing else, sweetly provocative. And, in its own way, it asks viewers to ponder some of life's, and death's, big problems, asking philosophical riddles as it goes along. It is, in its own goofy way, a show that attempts to talk about morality. And that in itself is refreshing.

But remember, we're talking 21st-century secular morality, not timeless Christian ethics here. I think it's safe to assume that gun owners would have a few extra hurdles to hop before making it into the fake real Good Place. And anyone who believes that marriage should be between a man and woman need not apply.

There are other problems, too. Sex is a frequent topic in these Elysian Fields or sulfur-strewn vacant lots. Wine flows freely up there. And good place or no, there's plenty of bad behavior. Characters—well, Eleanor, mainly—lie and steal on occasion. And while swearing is forbidden in the fake Good Place, that just sets the show up for one of its running jokes: forcing Eleanor to say "fork" instead of the f-word and "shirt" instead of the s-word, both of which she says frequently. Oh, and the Good Place has a profanity loophole, too. While harsh profanities are censored via euphemism, other occasional swears go unchecked.

In other words, discerning families may wish The Good Place was a lot better than it actually is.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Nov. 7, 2019: "Help is Other People"
Nov. 15, 2018: "Don't Let the Good Life Pass You By"
The Good Place: Jan. 17, 2018 "Chapter 24: Rhonda, Diana, Jake and Trent"
The Good Place: Sept. 19, 2016 "Pilot"
Sept. 27, 2018: "Everything Is Bonzer!"



Readability Age Range



Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop; Ted Danson as Michael; William Jackson Harper as Chidi; Jameela Jamil as Tahani; D'Arcy Carden as Janet; Manny Jacinto as Jason Mendoza; Tiya Sircar as Vicky; Marc Evan Jackson as Shawn; Maya Rudolph as Judge; Adam Scott as Trevor






Record Label




On Video

Year Published


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