This is a pretty funny show that has a clever premise. It involves Kristen Bell playing Eleanor Shellstrop, a thirtyish woman who opens her eyes and finds herself facing Michael, an elderly man played by Ted Danson. Michael tells her that she has died but that everything is fine because in the afterlife she is in The Good Place. Who ends up in The Good Place is determined entirely by an algorithm that assigns a numerical score (positive or negative) for every single act on Earth and then computes the final tally. Only the people who have lived the most exemplary lives on Earth end up there. He tells her that The Good Place is divided up into communities of exactly 322 people with each community designed by an architect of the afterlife and this one is his first design. Each person is assigned a soul mate and hers is Chidi Anagonye (played by William Jackson Harper) who was a professor of moral philosophy when he was alive.
The problem for Eleanor is that she quickly realizes that there must have been some kind of mistake because she was nowhere close in goodness to her fellow inhabitants. In fact, flashbacks to her life on Earth reveal her to have been a highly selfish, rude, unethical, and inconsiderate person. In order to avoid being discovered and sent to The Bad Place, she confesses her problem to Chidi and pleads with him to keep her secret and in return she promises to learn from him how to be a good person. He is conflicted about participating in a deception but overcomes his initial misgivings and agrees. The first season deals with Eleanor’s efforts to learn what it means to be good.
It is not often that you find a comedy that involves philosophical discussions about morality and ethics and goodness, refers to ideas from Aristotle, Plato, Hume, Machiavelli, and Kant, and compares philosophies of utilitarianism, consequentialism and the like. It is a tribute to the writers that they weave those in quite naturally without being pedantic. There are no discussions about any gods or any religious texts or any religions, except for a cursory mention at the beginning.
There have been two seasons of the show on NBC TV but only the first season is available for streaming so far on Netflix and that is all I have seen. I am looking forward to seeing the second.
Here’s the trailer.