The Good Place
, my favorite new sitcom, just ended its first season. The concept of the show is a bad person gets into a happy afterlife by mistake. There were plenty of twists, but the biggest came in the finale.
(Massive spoilage ahead.)
We'd been led to believe that the good place was heaven, with a particular neighborhood built for its denizens and watched over by its architect Michael, played by Ted Danson. Turns out instead it's been created as an innovative way to punish* four particular people (while the rest of the neighborhood is in on it).
I didn't see it coming, but it was properly set up. Two of the people were clearly not good by any normal standard. The other two were a woman who'd done good things but for vain reasons, and a man who studied ethics but caused agony to his friends through his indecision.
Some had noted these issues, though they weren't necessarily problems--The Good Life
can set up whatever rules it wants for its afterlife, it doesn't have to employ conventional morality. And that their lives in "heaven" were miserable made sense, since you need conflict or you don't have a show.
The reaction to the finale seems to be positive. The A.V. Club gave it an A
, and their reader consensus was an A-. The Hollywood Reporter loves it as well
. But I don't like it at all. It was surprising, it was funny and it made perfect sense, but I'm troubled by what it means for the show.
Ted Danson, as an apologetic leader who didn't quite understand what to do, was the best thing about The Good Place
. To discover it was all an act, just so he could torture these people (by making them torture each other), is a letdown, making so much that went on before less enjoyable in retrospect. Everything was a lie, which means the reasons why I laughed, quite often, were a lie.
The second season, if it occurs, will be sort of a do-over. Because the four figured out what was going on, their memories have been erased and they'll start from scratch, only with somewhat different parameters. It's also different in that we know what's going on this time (supposedly), but I don't want to see them reset the whole thing, even if it'll go along different lines. I feel like someone who's been held back a year in school.
I want the plot to be unpredictable, even shocking, but changing basic things that made the show the show makes me less interested. If it's renewed, I'll probably still watch, but I don't think it'll be as much fun the second time around.
*This is also the plot of a Twilight Zone episode