on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2018 13 Dez

Netflix: The Good Place

von: Brian Whistler Filed under: Blog | TB | 9 Comments

At first The Good Place seems silly, shallow and slapstick. And yes, the broad humor was off putting at times, but then I quickly became aware of the astute and incredibly smart writing, not to mention the lightening fast delivery of the lines by Kristen Bell, who reminds me of one of those smart 1940s actresses who can deliver her pithy one liners so off the cuff that it feels as if she just made them up on the spot. In fact the whole show has a throwback feel to the era of the kind of screwball comedies that relied on smart, snappy dialogue. The pace is quick, the jokes come one on top of the other. Not everything works and there are a few missteps here and there, especially early on. But as the show finds its footing, the edgy writing consistently redeems itself.

The cast is strong. Two of the main members have never acted professionally, yet deliver their lines like seasoned professional comic actors. Ted Danson is a standout as well. This is a plum role for Danson and he’s obviously having a ball. His depiction of the architect of the world the humans inhabit is alternately absurd, endearing, hysterically funny and at times, genuinely touching.

Yet at the same time as being immensely entertaining, the Good Place has a deeper ulterior motive: it wants to combine this ridiculous depiction of the afterlife with a somewhat surprisingly serious consideration of moral philosophy. On top of that, the characters each represent various wounded aspects of the human psyche, but they are not mere two dimensional symbols: as the show develops, the individual characters grow in substance and the show succeeds in winning the viewer over to the point of developing a genuine affection for the 5 main characters.

The Good Place walks the edge of a sword: too many philosophical ruminations and it could become dull – too much silliness and it could easily devolve into a mindless, corny sitcom. But for the most part it hits its target dead on, time and again.

Perhaps best of all, on top of the surreal world building going on, the writers aren’t afraid to “blow the show up.” There are surprises and reveals along the way that keep it fresh and keep the audience guessing. To those who find it sophomoric, I would urge them to hang in and see where this show takes you. I promise you, it’s a wild ride, but a ride with a higher purpose than one might expect at first watch.

In such a dark age as this, it’s refreshing to find a comedy that isn’t afraid to flirt with moral philosophy while making us giggle. We binged watched it right through the end of Season 2.

This entry was posted on Donnerstag, 13. Dezember 2018 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    I didn‘t see it, so it couldn‘t end up in my best of TV list 2018.

    In Gemany, all seasons of THE GOOD PLACE can only be seen via AMAZON PRIME.

  2. Brian Whistler:

    Oh I thought it’s a Netflix show only. How weird.

  3. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Easy. You can even get it via DVD etc.

    Your review is very appealing, Brian, even using initial scepticism as a strong argument to keep watching. But, thinking twice, it‘s far away from what I ever want to see 😉. Thematically.

    Although Imknow the HOW often wins over the WHAT.

    In fact I have been bingewatching a show recently that is the total opposite to THE GOOD PLACE. It could be called THE HELLISH PLACE.

    Only people there you‘ll find rather disgusting, and the only character I really like is an extremely attractive woman in her 60‘s, and I‘m not sure if she will turn into another terrible person in the last three episodes.

    SUCCESSION season 1 is about the dissection of a highly dysfunctional and wealthy family. The upper 500. It is pitch black „comedy“, and it‘s quite irrational that I like it so much. Let‘s call it screwball drama. Better don‘t give it a shot! 😉

    But, in case …. here we go:

  4. Michael Engelbrecht:


    Oh my god looking at my top 12 I can see now that, apart from the black humour of SUCCESSION, there is not a single show that has the weakest of smile to offer. It‘s like I‘ve been landing on the dark side of things.

    Let me rethink: I think I have to go back to the three seasons of the Suffolk-based show DETECTORISTS where laughing out loud was a constant companion.

  5. Michael Engelbrecht:

    The Good Place



    Will be perfectly antagonistic for January‘s TV recommendations

  6. Michael Engelbrecht:

    We’ve got at least six months to wait for its return. Meaning Succession season 2. In the meantime we’ll just have to make do with watching the real-life terrible elites instead.

    Btw, In a world that would still function in a very low level of morality in politics, this American president would now finally fall after the confessions of his former lawyer Mr. Cohen. Or at least have to fear consequences.

    But nothing will happen to him till election day in two years from now.

  7. Brian Whistler:

    Well, without giving anything away, I will simply state that all is not what it seems to be in the Good Place. But even in its darker moments, in order to work successfully as a comedy, it skirts the more horrific images it occasionally refers to.

    As for our president, I suspect you’re right. Hopefully, he’ll be indicted until he loses the next election. But hope springs eternal…

  8. Michael Engelbrecht:

    And, to not be misunderstood, there‘s a beating heart and a vulnerability in the central characters of Succession. And that‘s the real winning point: it is strangely affecting, all sarcasm involved is only the surface.

  9. Brian Whistler:

    I will definitely be checking it out.

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