The Good Place’s Bell and Danson Are a Match Made in Heaven

Written by Megan LaBruna


The Good Place Plot Summary:

When Eleanor (Kristen Bell) meets her maker she realizes a mistake has been made. She should have ended up below, but she has lucked out and landed in “the good place.” To keep from spending eternity elsewhere, she plans to work hard at changing her ways and earning her spot. However, in a place that calls for perfection, her secret might be outed before she has the chance to improve herself.

Have you ever wondered what the afterlife is like? Well, according to The Good Place, it’s awesome! Eleanor’s untimely death lands her in “the good place.” Most religions only guessed about 5% of what the afterlife has in store for everyone, except for one stoner who got 92% right. Essentially, the good place is broken up into various cities, countryside, towns and varying landscape planned down to every minute blade of grass to perfectly compliment its inhabitants. In order to gain access to this eternal bliss, each person’s actions during their time on earth were rated based on a scale of how positively or negatively those actions affected the rest of the world. This system allows only those with the highest scores to enter the good place. Cleveland Browns fans, get excited, being loyal to your team has a positive effect on the universe according to this show.

The Good Place
Photo Courtesy of NBC

Unfortunately for Eleanor, there was some kind of mix up that allowed her into the good place. While her name is correct, her job and her memories do not belong to her. She wasn’t a lawyer who helped innocent death row inmates. In actuality, she was a “medium” person whose job was to scare old people into buying fake medicine, which she was very good at. She was also not a great friend, and didn’t care much about things like the environment or morals. Now, along with her designated soul mate Chidi (William Jackson Harper), she is determined to work towards becoming a good person. With him having formerly been a professor of morals and ethics, she may have a small shot at succeeding. When your alternative is eternal damnation, you’d be surprised how motivated you can be to change your ways.

Her secret might end up exposing her though, because Eleanor’s averageness begins to infect their perfect world in negative ways, such as giant bugs, horrible yellow and blue outfits and trash raining from the skies. Turns out it’s hard to lie to the higher powers that be.

Overall, the show was pretty funny. The person who was supposed to be there in Eleanor’s place loved clowns and wasn’t into material things so naturally her house in the afterlife is incredibly small and covered in clowns. It’s the little details that had me really laughing out loud. For a show being about the afterlife, it may be hard to evade supporting or offending different religions, but I think they did a great job of creating their own afterlife world that avoids any favoritism to one religion over the other. I mean, what religion do you know that says there will be dozens of frozen yogurt shops in the afterlife? The chemistry between the cast isn’t bad for a pilot episode either. The timing and pace of a half hour comedy can sometimes take a while to find its rhythm, but I felt as though Bell and Harper were able to play well off of each other.

Photo Credit: NBC
Photo Credit: NBC

Ted Danson, the architect of their world, has been enjoyable to watch as well. I’ve only typically seen him in roles where he is the comic relief, but he has always had a mentality of confidence. In The Good Place, while he has a confident exterior, as the show progresses he breaks down and becomes very vulnerable and questioning his ability to maintain this harmonic town. While he’s still very much there for his comedic chops, it’s nice to see him in a somewhat different role.

The other apparent main couple of the show, Tahini (Jameela Jamil) and Jianyu (Manny Jacinto) were also more entertaining than I had anticipated. At first the character of Tahini seemed way too perfect and annoying, but by the second episode her interactions with her soul mate Jianyu, a Buddhist monk who has chosen to maintain his vow of silence even into the afterlife, had me laughing. She talks so much, she essentially talks for him, but I’m hoping of these days he has a “Silent Bob moment” and says something simple yet profound at the right moment.

Based on what I’ve seen thus far, I have high hopes for The Good Place this season. Now I’m just hoping they don’t let me down. I will say, having been created by Michael Schur (Parks and Rec, The Office, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), don’t go in expecting the same jokes as those on his previous endeavors. This show has a different feel to it than his typical body of work. But, if you enjoy simple half hour comedies that can be somewhat absurd on the outside, but have a heartfelt message on this inside, I think The Good Place may be the perfect option for you this fall season!


The Good Place Airs Thursdays at 8:30 PM on NBC