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Heaven is a Frozen Yoghurt shop: Welcome to the Good Place

By Anjida Sripongworakul

Friday 11 August 2017 Student journalists

What is your idea of the after-life? Is it heaven and hell, where heaven is all sunshine and rainbows and hell an eternal fiery land of darkness? In The Good Place, the creator Michael Shur transports us to a neighbourhood for do-gooders, marked by its abundance of frozen yoghurt ‘fro-yo’ shops.

By a stroke of heavenly bureaucratic mishap, Eleanor Shellstrop (a hilarious Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars), a selfish, devil-may-care Arizonian, is sent to The Good Place, instead of the Bad Place (the Shur universe for “hell”), where she obviously belongs.

What ensues is a series of comedic albeit touching chaos as Eleanor attempts to hack the divine system with the help of her designated soulmate (it’s a Good Place thing), Senegal-raised Professor of Ethics, Chidi (a delightful William Jackson Harper), and next-door neighbours: Florida-born Filipino DJ-wannabe, Jason Mendoza (an endearing Manny Jacinto) and statuesque British socialite Tahani (played to delicious perfection by Jameela Jamil).

On her quest to survive The Good Place while staying clear of its residents’ suspicions, Eleanor is roped in as the personal assistant of the angel-slash-chief-architect Michael (Ted Danson) who designed the neighbourhood, alongside a personification of Siri: an all-knowing, omnipresent female robot, Janet (a skilfully comic D’Arcy Carden). 

From the creator of the iconic television shows Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine came Shur’s latest take on sit-com, thirteen 29-minute, compulsively binge-able episodes that already has been renewed for a second season by NBC.

The lead characters are quirky and real. The dialogues are smooth, contemporary jokes capitalising on recent pop culture events from Hamilton to the Kanye-Swift scandal, all wrapped up in enjoyable bite-sized chunks of ethics lessons contemplating what it means to be “good,” through the words of philosophers such as Kant and Plato.

Each episode is timed just right and keeps you intrigued and hooked throughout. But don’t be fooled by the happy-go-lucky vibe. The Good Place has its fair share of secret twists. As in life, the “good” in this particular rendition of the afterlife, is not what it seems.

Without giving away too many spoilers that made the show such a pleasure to watch, The Good Place is a smart, self-aware show that will have its viewers questioning morality and goodness in their current, daily interactions with fellow humans, long before the time comes when they depart for their own Good Place.


 

Anjida Sri

I'm a Management Science (Decision Science Stream) Master's candidate at London School of Economics and Political Science. Originally from Thailand, I'm as passionate about the science, psychology, and statistics behind decision making as I am about film and writing. I enjoy opportunities to combine my passions in reviewing, discussing, and analysing films. My major influences include the New Yorker's James Wood, classic Russian literature, and Richard Siken's poetry. I've written film reviews, celebrity profiles, and news and technology coverage for my undergraduate engineering newspaper, the University of Waterloo's Iron Warrior. I'm also a guest blogger and Student Blog Editor for LSE's Department of Management. I believe pop culture, current affairs, and critical, world-changing ideas are integral to student lifestyle, and I'm committed to representing students' reality outside the classroom to society and the world. I hope to continue investigating this theme through NUS' platform for student voices.