The critically acclaimed TV show The Good Place has been filling our screens and our hearts for the last few years. However, on Thursday 30 January, the final episode aired on NBC before appearing on Netflix the following day to viewers across the world.
In an age where TV shows can last decades or more, The Good Place came to a quiet and heartfelt conclusion after only four seasons. Michael Schur decided to end the show on his own terms so he could make the final season as impactful as possible. He succeeded, especially with its final episode.
Schur had worked on many different sit-coms before The Good Place. He was originally a collaborator on The US Office before he left to create the beloved comedy Parks and Rec and more recently Brooklyn-99.
However, The Good Place was different from his previous projects. It still had the same wacky and wholesome humour, but it was also one of the smartest of the shows on modern TV. It seamlessly entwined wonder one-liners with lessons on moral philosophy.
It was a metaphysical comedy made for the masses, and one that the masses really enjoyed. Its ambition was refreshing for a genre which often shies away from grand themes, hiding in inane stereotypes and physical comedy for fear of losing a mainstream audience.
When The Good Place started back in 2016 the world was a very different place. The show’s loveable characters and light humour attracted viewers then, but after all the tumult took place in the years after, the show became more than just casual watching, it became a relief to the everyday. Its comedy was always sharp but never offensive. It was there to provide a warm cosy hug of optimism- that goodness still exists and if we strive, we can become better people.
This message was particularly noticeable in the first season when Eleanor finds herself in The Good Place after death knowing full well that she does not belong there from her actions on earth. Her selfish intentions, only wanting to become a better person to avoid being kicked out of heaven, slowly morph into legitimate care for others and endeavours to be a good person.
The characters genuinely improve across the course of the show and in this final episode we see how far they have come. Jason has learned patience, Tahani has learned not to be self-centred, Chidi has learned decisiveness and he makes the most decisive choice one can make. Eleanor has come the furthest from the first season, becoming a truly selfless person willing to do whatever his best for her friends, regardless of how it affects her.
The Good Place is full of questions such as “Why are we here?”, “What happens when we die?” and “What is goodness?”. It answers some of these questions, but it leaves others unanswered because there is no response to them. All we can do is to try to be the best people that we can be through caring for others and acting unselfishly.
The Good Place is a show about trying and determination, about improving yourself through effort and struggle. Not only did the show leave us with characters we will forever hold onto, but it also gave us a real moral message of how to become better people.
Image: aitchison via Wikimedia Commons