Exploring morality and enlightenment in NBC's 'The Good Place'
Welcome! Everything is Fine!
“The Good Place”, a show on NBC created by Michael Schur - the genius behind Parks and Rec and the Office - continues to be one of the best shows on television while challenging conventions.
The hit sitcom just wrapped up its second season and has been renewed for a third. Schur seeks out to ask questions about life and then answer them while making the viewer feel warm and chuckle. His ability to push conventions and continually change the dynamic and circumstances of the characters is something special. He refuses to be comfortable in this highly serialized comedy in which each episode contains a cliffhanger for the next.
Every episode we, the audience, are on a journey towards decency with the characters. Schur provides us with a palatable way to explore morality, growth, and enlightenment. The audience explores these themes with the show’s protagonist Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) and her band of misfits Jason (Manny Jacinto), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Chidi (William Jackson Parker), and Michael (Ted Danson), who created the world where Eleanor and company now reside.
Eleanor is a woman whose sole purpose on earth was satisfying her selfish desires, and once she realizes she has died and made it to the Good Place on accident, she pledges to earn her place. With the help of her soulmate Chidi, a former professor of ethics, she travels down the path of morality.
Throughout the first season Chidi brings Eleanor around slowly, introducing her to philosophers like Kant, Aristotle, Hume, and more. While Eleanor is growing the audience has a chance to grow with her. Schur creates a fantasy heaven in which the line between good and bad is constantly blurred, but the willingness to admit mistakes and change reigns supreme.
While watching the audience can’t help but examining their personality traits. We can often catch ourselves thinking if there is a metric that can determine our level of decency. Schur creates an atmosphere with the show in which separating our thoughts about morality with those of the characters is hard to do. Although many of us wouldn’t go through the lengths some of them did to prove their good or satisfy their selfish desires, we see ourselves in them and want them and ourselves to be better. We all have different concepts on the afterlife and our place in it, Schur just gives us the opportunity to explore it in a more enjoyable fashion.