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Why You Should Watch: The Good Place

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Hilarious, inquisitive and quirky – The Good Place is, unquestionably, a great show.

What's more is that it's a series that is very easy to slip in to and accidentally binge watch in a day, with the first season weighing in at approximately four and a half hours of quality television. There’s simply no excuse to not watch it.

With a strong cast featuring Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil and Manny Jacinto, it packs a punch on the very first episode and is seasoned with a strong supporting cast, as well as writing talent from David Miner (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parks and Recreation), Michael Schur (The Office, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Morgan Sackett (Seinfield, Parks and Recreation) and Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods).

The Good Place follows the life, or, ahem, afterlife of Eleanor Shellstrop (Bell), a woman who accidentally finds herself in a heaven-like utopia after her death, having been sent there by the angel Michael (Danson) who resides over it as its architect, ensuring everything that happens in the utopia he created for humans is perfect.

However, Eleanor quickly realises that she shouldn’t be in 'The Good Place', due to the morally abhorrent decisions she made during her life, and that she has been placed there by accident. Eleanor wrangles with hiding her imperfect behaviour - from the past and in the present- from her saintly new neighbours for fear of being sent to (you guessed it), 'The Bad Place' - a dystopian version of the afterlife.

In The Good Place, she is accompanied by characters who have also finished their time on earth: Chidi (Harper), a young, ever err-ing philosopher; Tahani (Jamil) a glamorous philanthropist; and Jianyu (Jacinto), a mysterious monk. Suffice it to say, one of the high points of The Good Place is Bell’s pessimistic and morally dubious character bouncing off of the other humans, making for extremely entertaining viewing that constantly surprises.

The fantastical setting and the reimagining of Heaven, as well as the hilarious writing and concepts make for a wonderful show. One of the best in-jokes being that swear words are banned, resulting in many wonderful inventions from the complaintive, wily character of Eleanor. The concept of the show could have fallen flat: a bad person trying to be good. It’s been done before. But The Good Place elevates this idea time and time again. It allows the audience to chew on how or why a person would want to be, or could become good, especially in the afterlife where it arguably doesn’t matter anymore.

It pokes fun at the oft-used trope, and becomes a lot more than a generic run-of-the-mill comedy. The Good Place surrounds the generic idea of a bad person becoming good with exceptionally zany concepts, such as flying shrimp so large that they’d make King Kong quake, a train that leads to the land of mediocrity, a lawyer who escaped The Bad Place, Adam Scott as a partying demon who ruins the word “smile”, and an infuriating set of stairs. These quirky aspects of the show provide laugh out loud comedy as well as the chance to touch on more intriguing and deeper notes than most standard comedy shows do.

Bell, Harper and Danson all deliver terrific performances throughout the first season, and are thoroughly engrossing in their performances. Jamil, Jacinto and D’Arcy Carden (who plays Janet, a robot-like assistant designed to assist inhabitants of The Good Place) also deliver stand-out performances in their roles. The concept of the show is refreshingly thought-provoking, as the quirky concoctions that make up the afterlife break the mould of most comedy-based shows. The storyline, despite initially seeming straight-forward, is compelling enough to charge the series - not just the season - forward.

The Good Place is a treat to watch in terms of character development as the inhabitants are constantly affected by, and learning from, each other’s behaviour and the show excels as a rare female driven comedy. The comedy is always on top-form, as are the mechanics of the underlying plots. The first season finale features a shocking twist which will presumably be the main driving force of season two (which has already begun) and personally I can’t wait to see how the plot further unfolds.

The Good Place is wonderful at portraying how to be perfectly imperfect, and how to be imperfectly perfect. Season one made for incredibly compelling television, provoking laughter from character based scenarios rather than environmentally based ones, which demonstrated its strength as a show that avoids playing off an easy source of amusement, and instead goes for the clever laughs.

If the first season is any indication, the rest of season two is going to be one hell of a ride.

The Good Place is available to watch on Netflix, with new episodes being released weekly.

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