I don’t write about TV very often, and there’s a good reason: I really don’t watch all that much of it. So goes the life of someone without cable! But thanks to Netflix and Hulu, I do still have access to a ton of content, and I have started watching a new show that is smart, funny, and legitimately clever.
The show in question is The Good Place, a Kristen Bell/Ted Danson vehicle created by Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-creator Michael Schur.
The Good Place is the first primetime comedy I’ve enjoyed in … well, a long time. I’m three episodes in right now—again, thanks to the almighty Hulu—and each one was hilarious and legitimately full of surprises.
In the show, we meet Eleanor, a smartass, occasionally cruel woman who dies tragically and finds herself suddenly hanging out in the afterlife. It’s not the Christian afterlife, the Muslim afterlife, or representative afterlife; it’s the real afterlife, according to Schur and the show’s writers.
This person in charge of this afterlife is Michael, played by an especially funny Ted Danson, and he explains the basic premise to Eleanor in the pilot episode’s opening scene: your entire life is observed and graded by mysterious forces, and if you score well enough, you end up in “The Good Place.” Those who don’t make the cut, of course, end up in “The Bad Place,” which we know very little about other than it sounds horrifying.
I don’t want to give away any more plot than that, because each episode so far has thrown in a new detail or two, and many of them are unexpected. But if a comedy with that basic premise sounds amusing, I do recommend you check it out.
A few random observations about the show (no spoilers, duh):
- Ted Danson is one of my favorite actors in the world. Yes, this is because I’m borderline obsessed with Cheers, especially Sam and Diane, but always been good in other things too! He’s terrific in this show, and just through the three episodes I’ve watched, his character has shown a lot of range.
- Kristen Bell is also great, though there have been a few times where I heard her voice and just suddenly imagined my daughter screaming songs from Frozen at the top of her lungs.
- D’Arcy Carden, who you may recognize from her appearances on Broad City as the mega awkward female gym employee, steals the show as Janet, a “celestial guide” who appears instantly when you ask for her and can answer any question you may have. She’s basically Siri, but legit.
- I’m watching a network comedy! This is weird. It’s been a few years.