by Theo Sloan
March 25, 2020
Recently, The Good Place, an innovative comedy set in the afterlife, concluded. Since its debut in 2016, it has been one of the best shows on TV. It stars Ted Dansen, Kristen Bell, D’Arcy Carden, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, and Manny Jacinto. Although it starts out in the framework of a sitcom, it quickly grows beyond that. In the end, it delivers four funny, smart, and great seasons.
Season one has a promising beginning. The pilot episode is funny, vibrant, and full of life. It perfectly introduces all of the characters while cracking really fun, smart jokes and instantly drawing the audience into the story. It even manages to develop a large plot twist in the first fifteen minutes. There are two other twists in season one. They occur at the halfway point and during the finale. These twists do a fantastic job at keeping the show fresh, as well as subverting a staple of the sitcom, the status quo that every episode opens with. Season one also includes some amazing characters. Kristen Bell and Ted Dansen are spectacular, and the rest of the cast also does a fantastic job, especially William Jackson Harper and Manny Jacinto. Furthermore, the first season introduces and centers on the study of moral philosophy. It does a great job of making ethics easy to understand as well as entertaining to learn about. However, season one also has a serious pacing issue. As the season moves into its second half, it becomes very repetitive, and the amount of story in each episode begins to dwindle severely, a problem that many sitcoms face. Sitcoms do not often have continuous character development, but when a show wants to include ongoing character development and a narrative that continues from episode to episode, it cannot make the mistake that season one of The Good Place does. The repetition continues until the finale. The last episode of season one is able to inject life back into the show with an enormous, well-integrated twist that sets up season two perfectly. Despite the flaws mentioned above, season one is an incredibly strong season that is funny, fun, well-acted, and smart. I give it a solid, respectable 8.5/10.
Season two of The Good Place is very similar to season one, but the storyline is a little bit more extreme. The opening episodes are funnier than the opening episodes of season one. The plot is more driving, and the ending episodes are even better and more interesting. The cast all do an amazing job once again, and Maya Rudolph has a fantastic cameo in some of the final episodes. Season two dives into deep philosophical questions with even more vigor than the previous season. It tackles these issues in a more interesting way than season one. A particular sequence involving the so called “trolley problem” is especially entertaining. However, season two suffers from even worse pacing issues than season one does. There are three episodes in the middle that are tough to get through. Therefore, although it does perform better than season one is some aspects, season two also averages out to an 8.5/10.
Season three is where The Good Place gets into top-quality television territory. It delivers twelve episodes of deeply funny, thought-provoking, well-written, emotionally poignant television. It is very difficult to talk about this show without spoiling things, but I’ll try my best. The jokes in this season are some of the funniest yet. The entire cast is giving amazing performances, none of the episodes are badly paced or fillers, and the ending is one of the best surprise endings I have ever seen. All sitcoms should aspire to reach the quality of season three, and all of the badly paced episodes in the first two seasons are worth sitting through to get to it. I rate it a 10/10.
Season four of The Good Place is a mixed bag with a fantastic final four episodes. The opening of season four is the worst that the show has ever been. The newly introduced characters are not very compelling, and the story drags a lot. However, about halfway through, the season starts to improve. It begins to be consistently funny again, and the newer characters make fewer appearances. By the last four episodes, the season is back in full swing, and the ending of the show leaves the viewer emotionally wrecked and completely satisfied. The beginning of the fourth season is a 6.5/10, but the finale brings the season up to an 8/10.
My final score for the entirety of The Good Place is a glowing 9/10. It is an imaginative, captivating show with a creative storyline and fascinating characters. It would be great to binge while social distancing.