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The Best Episode of The Good Place Is… “Best Self”

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I have a pet peeve.

I can’t stand it when people turn a TV show on to play in the background. It eats away at me that they aren’t putting their full attention to the piece of art on the screen, and are missing jokes or character moments because they’re browsing the internet or doing something awful like playing with their cat.

The Good Place - Best Self

The Good Place/NBC                                        Example.

My annoyance isn’t fair or justified. Everyone is allowed to enjoy whatever content they want in whatever way they want. No matter how you enjoy something, odds are someone else will enjoy it differently. That can be hard to accept; we tend to want other people to extract the same level of enjoyment out of something as we extract ourselves, and we assume we know the best way to do this.

Like when you take your best friend to your favorite burger place, where they have the best toppings and secret sauce, and your friend gets a plain, topping free, sauceless burger.

“No,” you say as politely as you can mustard, “you have to try the secret sauce. You need to get the whole experience.”

“No thanks,” your friend says, in the least aggressive way possible.

Why did I even bring you here?

The Good Place - Best Self

The Good Place/NBC                                        Tahani’s face here accurately portrays my emotions.

This is how I feel when someone makes a grocery list while watching TV. This is how I feel almost every time someone watches The Good Place Season 2 Episode 10 “Best Self,” even if they’re paying attention

***Spoilers for The Good Place Below***

 

The Good Place is hilarious. Because it’s funny and charming, it makes a great background show to throw on while you’re dusting your living room.

It has a unique setting and plot as well, which also makes it fantastic viewing for those who like to sit and pay more attention.

But there is a third layer to the series. It’s deep and philosophic and is available to be analyzed and digested by those who want to do so.

The Good Place - Best Self

The Good Place/NBC                                        Also known as being Chidi.

I want to do so. To my devastation, my friends don’t always want to do so. So I’m going to do it for them!

“Best Self” is the most deeply human episode of television I’ve ever seen. Peel away the clever jokes and gags, and the next layer of the intricate plot, and you get to a core that is all of life packed into 22 minutes.

The episode starts with reformed demon Michael telling our heroes Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason that they are finally all going to head to the real Good Place together. The four humans have one last round of fro-yo together and fantasize about the heaven that awaits them.

Watch The Good Place Best Self Right Here

Once their magic balloon arrives, they have to pass the magic gate that only opens if they’ve become the best version of themselves. Of course, Chidi can’t get on because he isn’t sure that he’s his best self.

Then Michael confesses that he lied, that the magic balloon won’t work even if they all pass the gate, and he has no idea how to get them into the actual Good Place. They’re stuck in the neighborhood, and by morning the Bad Place demons will come and get them, dragging them into an eternal hell of torment and torture. No matter what they have done or what they do now, they’re screwed.

The Good Place - Best Self

The Good Place/NBC                                          We’ve all had this moment.

That’s life.

Every single living organism on this planet, in this universe, is screwed. No matter what it knows or does, each living thing is going to eventually die, and there is absolutely nothing that can be done about that. In this way, every living thing is equal; no life is better or more valuable than any other life because, in the end, it won’t be life at all.

Most life, though, can’t actually perceive or understand the finality of our dooms, and our ability to do so is what separates us and makes us definitively human. It’s the same reason Michael couldn’t truly understand humans until he understood death in “Existential Crisis.” This ability to understand the finality of life is what allows us to truly live.

The Best Forking Gifts to Buy a “Good Place” Fan 

So that’s what the humans decide to do on their last day. Eleanor orders a ton of alcohol from Janet, and they begin to party. The friends dance, get drunk, talk about their feelings and their fears, and take comfort in the only thing they can take comfort in; each other.

The Good Place - Best Self

The Good Place/NBC

If you just watch this episode as another chapter in a story about a crazy afterlife that houses demons who have holiday weekend Ikea as an entire department of torture, it’s honestly a little boring. Very little happens, as basically the cast just hangs out in a single location for 22 minutes, making it a bottle episode. It’s fine, but it’s no “Dance, Dance, Resolution,” with its insane 300 mph pace, or “Michael’s Gambit” with an incredible twist.

Analyze a little deeper, though, and you’ll find an episode of television that perfectly encapsulates human existence.

The unrealistic hope they display at the start as they fantasize about the perfect Good Place, the heartbreak Eleanor feels when Chidi dreams about meeting his soulmate, the pain Michael experiences when he disappoints his friends after revealing he lied to them about getting into the Good Place; the range of emotions captured by these characters in such a short time reminds you of the rollercoaster that is human emotion.

The humanity doesn’t end there. The silly jabs at each other during their toasts are funny character jokes, but also a display of how we cope with our own and each others’ faults. They’re a display of love between people who have shared the trials of (after)life together. There is a comfort we feel when someone truly knows us well enough to point out the specifics of our personalities, and what is human life but trying to create that kind of bond with others?

And then there is Michael’s Human Starter Kit. Made an honorary human, the demon Michael gratefully opens his gift and pulls out car keys, band-aids, a stress ball, and a Dr. Oz diet book; all “garbage that [he has] no real use for.”

The Good Place - Best Self

The Good Place/NBC                                        Who doesn’t love never using their stress balls?

And yet he does find a use for them. By assigning meaning to the objects as they pertain to people and as they relate to him as a gift from his friends, Michael finds value in something meaningless. “Welcome to being human,” Eleanor tells him.

The episode immediately shifts to the friends doing the same thing, as they create meaning in their last day by dancing and having fun with each other. They take what’s left of their lives and they live it. Tomorrow they will be doomed forever, but for now, they are free. Free to laugh, free to cry, free to feel, and free to dance.

In the end, after discussing what their personal Bad Place will be (a nice contrast to the start of the episode where they discuss their Good Place), the friends decide to do the most human thing of all.

“Attempt something futile, with a ton of unearned confidence, and fail spectacularly.”

The Good Place - Best Self

The Good Place/NBC                                        Go us.

We cannot win. We can’t escape our own doom, and we can’t create some transcendent meaning to our lives. All of our attempts at it will fail, but my goodness, we are going to keep trying.

“Best Self” packs in so much about human existence and reminds us that even if we don’t have a larger purpose, we’re responsible for creating the meaning in our lives, and we do so through each other. We can’t stop the end from coming, but we can make the time we have left worth something to us and the people around us. We can find meaning in the void.

“In a way, the Good Place was inside the Bad Place all along.”

My Good Place is shutting the lights off and over analyzing everything I see on screen, but everyone’s Good Place is different, and no one’s way is right. So if you want to do the dishes while watching TV, go for it. Have it on while you vacuum the floor, put together the furniture you got over the holiday weekend at Ikea, and cook up a plain, topping free, sauceless burger. It doesn’t matter, we’re all doomed anyway, so watch TV, and live, in whatever way makes you feel alive.

The Good Place - Best Self

The Good Place/NBC

Be your “Best Self” and watch here!


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Money Heist

7 Wild Facts We Learned from the Netflix Documentary ‘Money Heist: The Phenomenon’

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Crazy Facts About Money Heist from Netflix's Documentary "The Phenomenon"

Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) has risen the ranks as Netflix’s most popular show, but if you’ve watched the series, it’s not entirely a surprise. The Spanish-language series is one of the streaming service’s best offerings filled with charismatic characters, wit, plot twists, and passion. However, it wasn’t always a Netflix Original, and the worldwide success has been an unexpected albeit pleasant turn of events for the creators, writers, and cast. 

The Netflix documentary “Money Heist: The Phenomenon (La Casa de Papel: El Fenomeno)” explores what makes the show such a thrilling addiction that has resonated with people all over the world. 

What I found most interesting is that the series broke down everything that went into creating this world, these characters, and a storyline that captivates audiences. In the same way that the Professor could anticipate every move that would be executed by the police, the creators of the series have been able to tap into what audiences will connect with, what they want to see, and what will make this their favorite series.

Here are some of our favorite fun facts from the documentary — SPOILERS from all seasons ahead: 

1. The show was a flop

It’s honestly hard to believe that Money Heist didn’t find immediate success in Spain considering how good the series is. According to the documentary, the series started off strong with 4.5 million viewers, but with each passing week, viewership waned until it was down to 2 million.

For that reason, the series was canceled by Spanish channel Antena 3, which explains why season 2 had such a satisfying and fitting ending. Everything was wrapped up with the idea that the series was over and done with. And then Netflix came along and added to series to its list of programming.

Here’s where you learn about the power of word of mouth — Netflix didn’t promote the series at all but somehow (and rightfully so), it began picking up steam. People from all over the world began to discover just how brilliant the Professor was; they connected with a rogue group of robbers on a personal and intimate level. Eventually, Money Heist became the second most-watched series next to Netflix’s mainstay Stranger Things, and, of course, the streaming service was ready to capitalize by reviving the series and proposing the show creators another season. The rest, is, well, history. 

In fact, the series is the most viewed Netflix series in France, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Portugal. 

 

2.  They consulted real-life experts to make things very realistic

Money Heist doesn’t half-ass anything because the world is so far-fetched that it has to feel real. And it does. You’re completely enveloped in every aspect of the Professor’s plan and often find yourself wondering, “how are they going to pull that off?” The team putting together the series felt the same way and thus, when it came down to plotting how they are going to infiltrate high-security places and what they’re going to be stealing, they decided to consult the real-life experts to get the answers.

Personally, I was in awe of how technical the second heist was from removing the gold from the underwater vault and melting it down. The research included hiring a marine engineer to help with the construction of the antechamber that it used to go into the vault and remove the gold.

When it came to the melting down part, a father-and-son metalworker duo served as advisers on how to properly melt down 90 tons of gold into little pellets that could easily (we use that term loosely) be smuggled out. The experts were even used as extras to ensure the process was done correctly. The only difference is that they used copper instead of gold in the scene since it’s cheaper! 

 

3.  There’s a lot of movie magic 

You didn’t actually think they used real gold in the underwater scenes, right? There’s plenty of movie magic that goes into bringing the world of Money Heist to life, and a lot of it is fixed in post-production. Take for example the gold, which was just styrofoam coated in a gold color that began to concave after being submerged in water and needed to be edited piece-by-piece, frame-by-frame. 

However, there are elements that are truly crafted in a way that keeps everyone on their toes. The team built a set that they then submerged underwater so it would look realistic and make it seem like water was rising once they broke in.

The scene where the blimp flies over Spain at the kickstart of the second heist and all the money falls from the sky really happened, though, it wasn’t real money falling onto hundreds of extras — that would require production to stage an actual heist. The scene may have been minor, but it was necessary to get it just right in order for it to have the desired effect, which meant collecting and throwing the money over and over for several takes as the crew struggled to get it to fly in the right director. Eventually, it began raining and the paper money began melting. Moral of the story is that things go wrong just like in the Professor’s carefully crafted plan. 

And the boat scene where the gang reached international waters was not filmed on a chilly and gloomy day. In fact, it was shot during a scorching hot day in the Philippines and everyone was sweating and ready to pass out from the heat. They pulled it off, right!?

Is Season 5 of ‘Money Heist’ Happening? Everything We Know

4. They take risks 

The idea of “no risk, no reward” definitely comes into play here. When you watch the series, you’re constantly on the edge of your seat wondering what’s going to happen next, if the plan will go off without a hitch, and what obstacle will come crashing down on the team. The thrill is a product of the cast and crew’s desire to keep you on the edge of your seat. They wanted to make a series that’s unpredictable, and the only reason to do that is to take big risks with every storyline and every character. We see that with their decisions to kill off beloved main characters because it’s the only way to keep the storytelling authentic. 

Which…. leads us right into this next point (see below)! 

 

5. The show is written on the fly

There’s a general plan for the series but unlike the Professor’s carefully thought out and meticulous plans that anticipate every move, the series is written in the “heat of the moment.” That means that very few scripts are written in advance. The writer’s team is always working as the cast is filming to add in scenes, switch up dialogue, or change the direction of the series completely. 

If you think about it, it’s kind of brilliant because not only are you unsure of what’s going to happen next since it leaves the actors in suspense, but it allows the characters to react authentically to what is happening. 

Obviously, this requires everyone to have their head in the game at all times but also adds a lot of pressure and stress. The show creator Alex Pina says he wakes up and is terrified going into work everyday. Essentially, that’s the anxiety the robbers would be feeling in a real life heist.

 

6. It has some very famous fans

Plenty of celebrities have jumped into the red jumpsuits and joined the resistance including Stephen King and Brazilian soccer player Neymar, who was so obsessed with the series that he snagged a role in the series as a monk! Who would have thought?

 

7. The imagery is part of the resistance

When you think of Money Heist, there’s some imagery and symbolism that comes to mind including the red jumpsuits, the Dali mask, and, of course, Bella Ciao. There’s no way you watched the series and didn’t get the song stuck in your head for days on end.

Remember how I said show creators and writers knew what they were doing? Yeah, that was purposeful. The series uses the color red as it is usually associated with blood and passion. Red has become the show’s signature color. The song, which was sung by Italian anti-fascist partisans in World War II, has become the anthem. It was first sung when Moscow hits dirt in the Mint of Spain and the whole cast erupts in a euphoric celebration in season 1.

It’s later juxtaposed with a somber rendition by the Professor and his brother, Berlin, which allows the song to take on new and deeper meaning. It eventually becomes synonymous with being the symbol of the resistance and rebellion against the government. The song is being sung all over the world during protests, riots, and more. 

 


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Editorials

How to Watch ‘Hamilton’ on Disney+ this Fourth of July

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Hamilton the Musical Coming to Disney+

This July, you’re getting the best seat in the house for Hamilton and you aren’t paying hundreds of dollars for it! 

On July 3, Disney+ will begin streaming the Lin-Manuel Miranda smash Broadway musical, which follows the life of Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Fathers. 

The version of the original production was filmed at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in June of 2016.

While you’ll be able to enjoy it from your living room, Miranda has gone out of his way to give you full Broadway experience. He tweeted the screen-adaptation will feature “whole show, every note & scene, & a 1-minute countdown clock during intermission.”

Here’s everything you need to know about streaming Hamilton on Disney+ 

How to Watch?

Hamilton will be available to Disney+ subscribers. You can stream it on online or on your streaming devices. 

 

How Much Does Disney+ Cost?

You can snag a subscription with on-demand access annually for $69.99 per year or monthly for $6.99. The annual membership saves you about $14 yearly. This gives you access to all of Disney and Marvel content! 

You can also get the bundle with ESPN+ and Hulu for an additional $12.99 a month. Bundling the three gives you a 25% savings or roughly $5 bundled rather than subscribing to each service separately.

 

What’s Hamilton Rated?

Miranda recently revealed the screen adaptation will be exactly the same as the stage performance sans two swear words. In order to qualify for the “PG-13” rating, the film must not have more than one swear word. The rating warns of “language and some suggestive material.”

 

Is It Worth My Money?

Disney has an extensive catalog and much like other streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, it adds new content monthly from classic films, shows and cartoons, animated films, and brand new originals. 

For those who like Hamilton, Disney+ also offers the stage-to-screen film adaptation of Newsies. And if you’re looking for more of Miranda’s work, Disney+ is streaming the reboot of Mary Poppins and Moana.

10 Shows to Watch During 4th of July Weekend 2020


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Fuller House

‘Fuller House’ Season 6: Is the Door Open For Another Reboot?

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Fuller House review season 5 episode 13

Fuller House came to an end after five seasons earlier this month, but the cliffhanger felt as if the series intentionally left the door open for another reboot. 

Even DJ emphasized: the door is always open. 

But was that intentional? While it doesn’t seem like Netflix has any interest in keeping the show around, the cast and showrunner are remaining optimistic. 

In the final moments of the series, Kimmy and Steph said their goodbyes before moving families out of the Fuller-Tanner house for good. 

Following their exit, DJ becomes emotional as the usually full, loud, and alive house falls eerily quiet. Someone knocks on the door and it turns out to be her sister and childhood bestie informing her that they don’t want to leave.

Stephanie then drops another surprise that could carry the show for a few more seasons — she’s pregnant. (Read our reviews/recaps of the final season of Fuller House here)

For an audience who grew up with these characters, it’s hard to say goodbye and come to terms with the idea of not being there for their next steps. 

But while it’s one thing for the audience to want to continue the series, it’s another when the actors are fully on-board. 

Both Andrea Barber (Kimmy Gibbler) and Candace Cameron Bure (DJ Fuller) told TV Insider that they are keeping their fingers crossed for another reboot in the future. 

“We talk about that all the time and put it out there so much. Who knows what will happen in 10 or 15 years. Never say never,” Bure said. “If there is another opportunity, I know all of us would reprise these characters again.”

Barber added that wrapping up season 5 did not feel final. “I really want to play this character and see where she is and see her grow,” Barber said. “We’ve seen Kimmy, DJ, and Stephanie since they were 5 and 10. Let’s continue it into our 60s. Let’s see them as the Golden Girls of the new generation. I’m ready.”

In fact, Cameron-Bure told E! News that she would play DJ forever if she could. 

 “I would play DJ Tanner for the rest of my life,” she said in 2018. “If the audience wanted it and the networks wanted it, I would do it forever.”

So, yeah, there’s a huge chance the cult-sitcom could see a reboot somewhere down the line that would find the She-Wolf pack dealing with grandchildren.

Not many shows get the luxury of catching up with their fans every so often, but in this case, even with declining ratings, there’s a ton of love for the 90s sitcom. 

Of course, by that point, we hope Stephanie and Kimmy and their families actually moved out of DJ’s home. 

The San Francisco house is big, but it’s not that big. 

Would you want the show to return in the next decade? Or is Fuller House milking it?


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