The Good Place: Comedy for a Niche Audience
Written by PTC | Published September 14, 2016
A bizarre, high-concept comedy about (after)life in Heaven.
The Universe keeps a balance sheet on the lives of each individual. Every selfless deed counts as a positive; every selfish or unthinking one, a negative…with the result that, in the afterlife, the overwhelming majority fall short. Only the most selfless and saintly individuals are allowed entrance to “The Good Place.” This is where Eleanor Shellstrop finds herself, even though in life, she was far from saintly. Knowing she is there by mistake, Eleanor covers up her lie; but Paradise begins to crumble as a result. Eleanor enlists the help of Chidi, a former professor of ethics and morality, to teach her how to be selfless…but it will be an uphill battle for the self-centered Eleanor to remain in The Good Place.
There is some adult-themed content in The Good Place, though much of it is used for humor. Eleanor discovers that “the good place” does not permit swearing, thus causing her frequent use of profanities to be rendered as “fork you!,” “mother forker,” “bullshirt,” “ash hole,” and “she’s a bench.” There are also flashbacks to Eleanor’s selfish behavior on Earth, like her job defrauding sick, elderly people, or telling a charity solicitor to “eat my farts.” The program also contains minor sexual references, such as talk about Eleanor past sexual encounters or use of pornography.
The epitome of a “high-concept” television program, The Good Place is larded with bizarre special effects and wacky, over-the-top humor. It is difficult to see how the program’s premise can be sustained over an entire season; but the show definitely fulfills its creators’ brief to make programs that appeal only to a niche audience.
The Good Place premieres Monday, September 19 at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBC.