Hey, you! How’s your life management going, buddy? You effectively balancing all those delicate component parts of your existence, like some kind of demented plate-spinner? And are you finding time to watch all those great new shows on Netflix that everyone keeps incessantly going on about? No? Well, you need help and we’re going to provide it.
Because we’ve found your new favourite show; the one that you need to march straight to the top of your watchlist queue. It’s called The Good Place and surprise: it’s good. Really good.
The Good Place comes from the mind of Michael Schur, co-creator of the excellent Parks And Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. If you liked either of those, then you’re already going to be on board with The Good Place. But early warning: The Good Place is even less of a traditional sitcom as either of Schur’s previous shows. Because it’s all about death, the after-life, theology and ethics; y’know, the four most common traits of any sitcom.
Kristen Bell plays Eleanor, a deceased woman who wakes up in the Good Place after her absurd death involving shopping trolleys. Ted Danson then pops up as Michael – the architect of this perfect, heaven-like locale – to help guide Eleanor through it. But things start going wrong and the two, along with other residents, have to deal with the chaotic events that ensue which threaten the very existence of the Good Place.
We don’t want to give too much away, as there’s a ton of surprises in the first season alone to savour for new viewers. With flashbacks to character’s previous lives and enough twists, The Good Place sometimes feels like Lost: The Sitcom. And hey, that’s no bad thing. We know there’s plenty of Lost-haters out there, but we still have a deep love for that show. Yes, even after seeing the ending.
But it’s not just these mysterious elements of The Good Place story that keep you coming back for more, like the fevered addict you are; it’s the writing and the cast.
The writing is consistently on-point with enough subtle, and heavily visual, gags to keep you laughing throughout. With a setting that allows for fantastical sights and elements, there’s almost an animated feel to the show which makes it more like The Simpsons than most regular live-action comedies. And that’s early Simpsons, not new Simpsons. Nobody likes new Simpsons.
And the cast are practically perfect, too. Bell and Danson, of course, bring their highly recogonisable A-game to the show. But it’s the other four lead actors – Jameela Jamil, William Jackson Harper, D’Arcey Carden and Manny Jacinto – who are the surprising draws here.
Jamil is the most familiar to hungover Sunday audiences in the UK (she hosted T4 for three years), but all four are relative unknowns in acting. Yet, they’re equally captivating, charming and hilarious in their respective roles. And adding to that animated comedy feel, all four have distinctive voice talent skills. Seriously, if Jamil and Harper are not voicing a Disney princess and prince at some point in the future, then we’ll be forking shocked.
With two seasons already under the belt, and a heap of critical praise and cult fandom for it, The Good Place looks like it could be around for a while yet. Although, in America it’s a network-based television show – not a Netflix one – and this usually means if you start enjoying it, then it’ll be cancelled early (see also: Firefly, Deadwood, Freaks And Geeks etc).
We hope this isn’t the case though for The Good Place, as it’s somewhere that we definitely want to live in for a long time. Even if we do have to put up with those creepy clown paintings hanging on the wall every week. There’s nothing good about those.