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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
Be your “Best Self” and watch here!
The Resident Review – Did Dr. Bell Take the Blame for the 3B Life Supplement Poisoning? (3×15)
Another The Resident episode, another terrible Dr. Cain sighting.
He may have been put in his place by Logan Kim on the previous episode, but all of that seems to be in the past as Cain’s ego takes precedence over patient care and preparedness during the unveiling of the Cain Neurological Institute.
Getting your own hospital wing is a prestigious honor that is given to those who deserve it and comes with great responsibility, which Cain ignored to prioritize his donors.
This isn’t the first time Cain has gone into surgery and disregarded valid concerns from his staff and nurses.
The argument that someone “didn’t die” doesn’t negate that they could have. He should have listened to Nic and waited until they were ready to perform the surgery.
Nic’s point was valid — they perform incredibly risky procedures on a daily basis where the odds are stacked against them, and being prepared can make a life or death a difference. They owe that much to the patients.
There are so many issues with Cain’s character, but the most frustrating has to be how he belittles nurses and makes them feel less than.
Those are the people you want on your good side — they support you, help you, and lift you up — you don’t want to make an enemy of them. Also, it’s hilarious that he truly believes that Nic, who chose a profession that barely gives her any recognition, would care about having her name on a building. Cain, not everyone is as selfish as you are.
But enough about Cain, let’s focus on Dr. Bell’s glow-up because it is one of the best on television.
As Bell grappled with the realization that his 3B Life supplements may have been poisoning and killing people, Pravesh questioned what it would take for Bell to revert back to his old ways to save himself.
While it seemed like Pravesh was still thinking of the Bell from back in the day, it was a fair question considering some people never change.
But Bell did.
And he proved that he’s above his old ways when he was presented with the opportunity to throw his business partner under the bus and refused.
Bell backed Andrea early on when the situation was first brought up and he was ready to taint his name if the product turned out to be dangerous to consumers because “it was his responsibility.”
Every time I watch The Resident, I think how the writers are to have been able to transform Bell’s character from the villain to a champion of the people who wants to be better and do better.
The conclusion of the 3B Life story-arc was necessary as it was pointless to drag it out any longer, and it was surprising that there was no foul play involved with their products. We all considered that Cain was somehow involved, didn’t we?
Instead, Conrad and Pravesh determined in the knick-of-time that the illnesses and deaths were related to a pesticide shipped on clothing from a boutique advertised on the same shopping network.
The storyline almost makes you want to stop online shopping… almost.
Conrad seems to have a knack at getting to the bottom of unsolvable cases and “seeing what others don’t,” a quality that Bell has learned to admire instead of chastise. See, isn’t it so nice when everyone works together on the same team?
Bell’s on such a positive trajectory, he’s about to become the new Dr. Oz after being offered an opportunity to take over the Dr. Pierce Show following his retirement.
While Bell never imagined a life outside of the OR and Chastain, he’s clearly been very flexible as to his career moves. He’s also a natural on TV and not one to shy away from the spotlight.
A gig like this could bring much-needed exposure to Chastain and the good work they’re doing. But, it also struck me when Pierce told Bell he could “restructure” the show in a way he wanted to that Bell could use this platform to expose Red Rock for the greedy, money-over-patients company that it is.
Bell said he’d think about accepting the gig, and I think he just might after he got deeply personal with Conrad and acknowledged his past for the first time.
He admitted that he always wanted to be as respected as his father, a man that people trusted, and now, he was working towards that. Being in public in front of thousands of people who trust and respect him could be the next step that he needs to take.
It was an enlightening moment as we’ve never heard Bell speak so fondly of his father before, and it gave us a deeper look at who Bell is when he’s not a surgeon.
Torres is an exciting addition to Chastain, but will his romance with Mina bloom?
Mina pursued him and suggested a date after coming to terms with AJ and Andrea’s romance.
AJ gave Torres his blessing after shutting down any notion that he and Mina were more than friends and allowed them to have some alone time.
And while it’s sweet that these two are so supportive of each other’s love lives, they’re very clearly just avoiding the inevitable; those feelings are bound to bubble up.
Things between AJ and Andrea and Mina and Torres could be fine, but they won’t be “it” and sooner or later, they’ll have to acknowledge those feelings.
Even Torres saw the sparks that we see with Mina and AJ.
The Resident is taking a brief hiatus before returning in March with the episode we’ve all been waiting for — the Conic proposal!
From the promo, it looks like Conrad isn’t the only one ready to pop the question as Nic also suggests getting engaged. But I have to ask if any of my Gilmore Girls fans saw the nod to the series with the gazebo in the background. It could just be a coincidence, but I’m not one that believes in them.
I’m ready for a wedding, y’all. I have my dress picked out and everything.
Other Noteworthy Moments from Chastain
- Annie is a recurring character that offers some relief from the new-case-of-the-week formula of the series. Not only did she survive the explosion, but she also beat cancer and now, so did her foster daughter, Lucy. Chastain has been good to Annie. The scene with Lucy singing while getting her brain tumor removed gave me chills.
- At first, the case-of-the-week featuring two bickering roommates that were both waiting for a heart transplant didn’t seem like it would give you the fuzzy’s, but The Resident knows how to pull one over on you to make you feel the feels and really connect with the patients even if for a little while. Each patient leaves a lasting impression on audiences in a similar way they do on doctor’s. If you’re familiar with the show, you knew one of them would die and the other would donate the heart, but it was still heartbreaking when it happened. Though, shouldn’t there be a button that warns them when a heart recipient has a stroke?
- I found it odd that Bell was promoting the supplements when on the previous episode when they were potentially making people sick. I guess they tried to explain it by saying Andrea had the lab tested, but it was still incredibly risky knowing that they might have to issue a recall. If Conrad hadn’t figured it out, Bell would have made himself look incredibly stupid.
This is the first time The Resident ended on a high note — no cliffhanger, not dramatic death, no emotional moment. The end saw three friends, Nic, Conrad, and Pravesh, gathering to eat pizza and laugh together after a day of saving lives.
It’s a nice change of pace to remind us that not every day is extremely difficult or filled with suffering. And sometimes, you just have to embrace the small moments.
Pepper Smith on ‘Katy Keene’ Draws Inspiration from Faux Heiress Anna Delvey
If you found yourself watching the second episode of Katy Keene and wondering why Pepper’s characters seemed so familiar, it’s because she seems to be The CW’s take on Anna Delvey, a real-life faux heiress that swindled the one-percent and intrigued the masses for several months before getting caught in one of the most fascinating scandal’s in history.
To back it up a little bit, Pepper Smith, played by Julia Chan, is Katy Keene’s New York City friend.
She’s introduced in the pilot as a socialite and gossip columnist who knows all the right people, can get into the right places, and lives lavishly bouncing from hotel to hotel while rocking the hottest designer brands and some wicked glasses. (Pepper has them too!)
However, the cracks begin to appear by the second episode as it’s revealed Pepper is in some financial trouble.
It isn’t even minor financial trouble – homegirl owes a whopping $60,000 to the hotel that she can’t pay off because, as it turns out, she’s not as rich as she’s led people to believe.
In fact, she cannot even afford a stay anywhere and refuses to come clean to her friends about her real identity.
Instead, she retreats to a deteriorating warehouse space that she just tricked an investor into funding in hopes of helping her realize her vision of opening her idea of “Andy Warhol’s Factory,” or, a mecca for creatives and artists alike to gather, showcase, perform, and more.
After blackmailing the real-estate agent to rent it out to her at a discounted price, Pepper is forced to shack up in the murky warehouse for the time being essentially becoming the squatter she was so worried in the first place.
Upon getting to know Pepper’s character on a deeper level, I immediately made the connection to Delvey in the Katy Keene Season 1 Episode 2 review.
For those unfamiliar with Delvey’s fascinating story, she was a German woman (real name Anna Sorokin), who posed as a wealthy heiress and fooled anyone that was anyone in New York. She lived a lavish lifestyle at the expense of others, defrauding friends, financial institutions, hotels, and more.
Her story almost seems like it would be something out of a Riverdale spinoff, and yet, it’s completely true and seems to inspire, at least slightly (for now), the character of Pepper.
Much like Delvey, who also wanted to open her dream arts club and attempted to secure a massive loan using fraudulent documents, Pepper meets with an investor and attempts to sell her dream to him, a moment that proves undoubtedly that Pepper can sell a lie to anyone as long as she believes in it.
Pepper has moxie as she seems to be manipulating the hotel concierge and her lover, Didi, to cover for her, which can also be compared to Delvey’s female friends that funded her lavish trips and footed the bills.
However, it’s unclear how much of Delvey has inspired Pepper, or if her swan song will be anything like Delvey’s, whose lies caught up with her after 10 months and landed her on trial where the jury in Manhattan found her guilty of second-degree grand larceny, theft of services and one count of first-degree attempted grand larceny. She was sentenced to 4 to 12 years imprisonment.
For Peppe’s sake, she better hope her character is only “loosely” based on Delvey, but for now, she remains one of the most enticing parts of the series in contrast to doe-eyed Katy Keene and her optimistic tribe of dreamers taking on the Big Apple.
As I mentioned before, Delvey’s story was so fascinating and unbelievable, plenty of people, including Shonda Rhimes, has expressed interest in telling her story. The CW may the first to draw its inspiration from the pathological liar, but it isn’t the last.
Looking for Love Will Continue on ‘The Bachelor’ with Music-Themed Spinoff ‘Listen to Your Heart’
You may have been too caught up in all the Victoria F gaslighting drama during hometown dates last night to realize that ABC was attempting to push its upcoming Bachelor franchise spinoff, The Bachelor Presents: Listen To Your Heart.
The franchise has always loved to incorporate music in some shape or form — Chase Rice, anyone? — but this feels as if The Bachelor producers ran out of ideas and took advice from Jedd Wyatt on what to do in between seasons of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and BIP.
The gist of the plot finds 20 single men and women living under one roof and not only trying to find love but also a singing career.
— The Bachelor (@BachelorABC) February 18, 2020
In short, there’s going to be a lot of competition, a lot of egos, a lot of crying, and a lot of drama (check out the rockstar guitar smash in the promo)!
If you had to describe the show to your friends or your mom, your best bet would be to say it’s a dating competition that’s also a singing competition a la American Idol or Making the Band. It’s possible Diddy will sign on simply for old-time’s sake… okay, fine, that’s what we wanted to happen.
It’s something, alright. The last-standing couple is about to sign a marriage license and a recording contract in the same breath.
On a serious note, ABC’s press release says that these passionate singles will go on Bachelor-style dates that focus on their shared love of music, there will be musical challenges, and best of all, there will be live performances judged by “the biggest names in the music business,” which apparently boils down to Jojo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers (how did they not bring Jedd Wyatt for this?!).
Most of the comments on the Twitter post promoting the spinoff are negative, but even if it doesn’t hit all the right notes (okay, I made myself laugh there), there’s no doubt in my mind Bachelor Nation will press play on this bad boy.
Cue Roxette’s “Listen to Your Heart.”
The spinoff will premiere on April 13 on ABC.
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