Why we’ll miss thought-provoking afterlife sitcom

Why we'll miss thought-provoking afterlife sitcom

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Welcome, everything is fine. But this story discusses plot points and spoilers from “The Good Place,” so proceed with caution if you aren’t caught up. 

No television show is the answer to the world’s problems. But “The Good Place” was our answer.

Saying goodbye to NBC’s sitcom about what it means to be a good person is even tougher to swallow than Eleanor’s (Kristen Bell) disgusting white chocolate shrimp dish. It leaves a Janet’s Void-sized void that will be literally filled with next week’s return of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” to NBC’s Thursday night lineup. But metaphorically, it’ll be a tough one to replace. 

After its premiere in 2016, it all comes down to this: A one-hour series finale (Thursday, 8:30 EST/PST), followed by a Seth Meyers-hosted special featuring the cast and creator Michael Schur. 

The show has been – as recurring guest star Marc Evan Jackson frequently refers to it on its eponymous weekly podcast – a “unique half-hour of American network television.” It caught viewers’ attention with an outlandish concept: “afterlife architect” Michael (Ted Danson) and recently deceased human Eleanor Shellstrop (Bell) navigate complications in heaven.

And then it exploded into a wonderfully goofy and creative exploration into some of life’s most complex questions. 

Ted Danson, D'Arcy Carden, William Jackson Harper, Manny Jacinto, Jameela Jamil and Kristen Bell explore the afterlife on NBC's "The Good Place."

“The Good Place” has never shied away from making shocking, genre-defying story choices, with a cast that also includes D’Arcy Carden’s Siri-like information center, Janet; William Jackson Harper’s anxiety-ridden genius Chidi Anagonye; Jameela Jamil‘s name-dropping heiress Tahani Al-Jamil; and Manny Jacinto’s dopey Florida trashbag Jason Mendoza.

Schur (“The Office,” “Parks and Recreation”) and his writing team burned through plot lines in two episodes that other shows might spend an entire season on. They seamlessly weaved between fart jokes and complex ideas about moral philosophy and dropped shocking revelations. 

The now-infamous Season 1 finale revealed that the four humans weren’t in heaven after all: They were in the Bad Place, a prototype for a new form of torture. (Sometimes the best torture is conflicting personalities.) 

"The Good Place," starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, is signing off Jan. 30 after four seasons.

But were they supposed to be there in the first place? They weren’t exactly the best four people of all time, but there’s a problem with the afterlife’s points system that sends everyone directly to the Bad Place because being a good person is harder and more complex than ever. The world feels like it’s on fire, and it’s easier to hunker down and care only about yourself. 

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