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The Good Place

The Good Place – Help Is Other People (4×07)

THE GOOD PLACE -- "Help Is Other People" Episode 407 -- Pictured: (l-r) Manny Jacinto as Jason Mendoza, Ted Danson as Michael, Jameela Jamil as Tahani Al-Jamil, D-Arcy Carden as Janet, Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

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The experiment is over. The group split apart and the status quo was finally blown up. I have no clue where the series will head now, which is a feeling I haven’t had with The Good Place since this season began. It’s an exciting feeling, and I’m grateful for it.

But still, it is a shame we didn’t spend much time with the subjects of the experiment. It feels as though the season was treading water from its second episode onward to get to this point, and I still feel the time could have been better spent. I also find it a little convenient that Eleanor and Michael didn’t think about telling Brent he is in the Bad Place way earlier in the timeline of the experiment. Tahani and Jason didn’t improve at all in their original run until they were informed about their position in the Bad Place, so it seems like this thought would have occurred to Eleanor and Michael back in episode three or four.

However, there is a ton to like about this episode, and it is probably my favorite episode of the season thus far. Tons of character humor, a sense of tension we haven’t felt all year thanks to Simone’s compiling of information, and unexpected twists along the way. A good way to make a final season successful is to call back to the rest of the series, and Eleanor and Michael recreating moments from season one here, such as the sinkhole and the iconic laugh, work well as call backs because they also serve the plot. Their backs are against the wall, so they are just trying to recreate the circumstances the original humans improved against.

As for that laugh, nothing will ever top the first reveal, but seeing Eleanor and Michael slip right back into their old ways is a treat, and watching them use the more negative aspects of themselves to try to achieve a positive goal is a testament to their growth.

I don’t know if they succeeded, and I’m not all that concerned with whether or not they did. I’m more concerned with how this series is going to wrap itself up. The experiment was fine but the way these episodes are structured, there wasn’t much attention paid to the subjects or the consequences of failure, making the outcome less meaningful. At this point, though, with six episodes left to air, I’m almost happy about this. It almost guarantees a separate endgame; one that will hopefully have higher personal stakes for all of our characters.

And finally; Brent’s realization that he is a bad person. We actually see the conflict and denial in his face and voice before he seemingly comes to terms with who he is. It feels a bit quick, but not because his turn to good happens immediately. Tahani immediately realized her issues when she was informed she was in the Bad Place, but the difference there was that Tahani was a well explored and fleshed out character by that point. We understood the headspace she inhabited and why she would think she is a good person. We never got to learn that about Brent, so I’m left wondering why he ever thought he was a decent human being in the first place. It’s a wonderful moment that is undercut yet again by the lack of development leading up to it.

By and large though, this series isn’t about Brent. It’s about Eleanor, Michael, Chidi, Tahani, Jason, Janet, and what it means to try to be a good person. And the biggest reveal of the night was built to perfectly in regards to that last pillar. Last week, Michael told Bad Janet all a human can do is try, and that’s what makes them good. Tonight, it’s revealed that the first step in that process is actually admitting to yourself that you need to improve. Brent didn’t try to be better before because he didn’t admit to himself that he needed to be. Eleanor and Michael’s demonic taunts and Chidi’s truth bomb to him is what he needed to hear. Now he can start to try. The Good Place is still as thematically sound as ever, even if the season so far has been a little slow. That’s enough for me to feel more confidence once again that the ending is headed to a very good place indeed.

Other Musings:

  • We also finally get to see some negative Simone traits. She’s a good character; I really wish we could have spent more time with her in the neighborhood.
  • John has some killer one liners. He has a unique personality amongst the group and I wish we could have spent more time with him as well.
  • I feel like the “early successes” joke may have been a bit meta, and if so that gives me even more confidence in the end of the show.
  • Brent saying he’d put a good word in for the rest of the friends was a good touch so we could see some genuine decency in him.

I complained about reusing old music cues a few episodes back, but obviously when the show itself is recreating events like the sink hole and the Bad Place reveal, old music cues are perfect. I just wish the sink hole danger strings would have been saved for that moment.


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Coffee Table News

TV Shows to Binge During Your Self-Quarantine and Social Distancing

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TV Shows to watch While Working from Home Coronavirus

In case you haven’t been keeping up with global news, coronavirus, COVID-19, is forcing everyone to practice the 2020 version of”conscious uncoupling” known as “social distancing.”

Many cities/states are on lockdown with bars, restaurants, and other establishments closing their doors to keep the outbreak from spreading even more than it has.

If you’ve found yourself self-quarantined at home on the couch to prevent the spread of germs, you’ll likely be looking for things to keep yourself occupied.

Many shows have shuttered production with daytime and late-night talk shows going sans audiences or completely dark for the remainder of the month.

And this means it’s the perfect time to binge-watch those shows you’ve been putting off.

Here are some shows to watch during your self-quarantine.

 

Scandal

What the world needs now is a fixer who could tell us all how to get out of this mess. Since that’s not possible, we have the next best thing in Olivia Pope, DC’s fixer and right-hand to the President, who is also in a torrid love affair with him. It’s political, dramatic, and sexy as hell to this day.

 

Timeless

Don’t you wish we could all travel back to a time before the coronavirus? Same. Maybe if we had a time machine like Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus, we totally could. But alas, we’ll have to settle for watching their journey through key historical moments as they attempt to stop Rittenhouse from destroying the world.

 

 

Locke & Key

Think Harry Potter meets Narnia. Netflix’s new fantasy thriller finds a family moving into a mansion following their father’s death where they learn that it’s filled with secret keys that open up portals to other dimensions. You never know where you’ll end up, but it’ll make you forget you’re curled up on your couch amidst a toilet-paper shortage.

 

Mr. Robot

Elliot works as a cybersecurity engineer by day and doubles as a vigilante hacker by night. When he’s recruited by a mysterious underground organization, he’s forced to do things that make him question his personal beliefs, his morals, and most importantly, what’s real and what isn’t.

Financial burdens (like the fact that you spent all your money stocking up on canned goods and paper towels) plague three suburban moms who are tired of always playing “catch up.” They decide to take matters into their own hands and rob a grocery store. Soon, they find themselves trying to navigate a world of crime that has absolutely no rules. As they try to survive, their actions will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Stranger Things

You’ve already heard of Stranger Things, and if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s high time you do. The series takes place in 1980s Indiana and follows a group of young friends who become privy to supernatural happening within the government.

Grey’s Anatomy

There’s no better time than during a quarantine to watch all 16 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. Honestly, when else are you going to have the time? All you need to know is that it’s a medical drama, there’s a doctor named McDreamy, and Shonda Rhimes is the boss babe behind it.

 

The Good Place 

The Good Place is a stroke of comedic genius mixed with some of the most insightful and wholesome storytelling of our generation. It’s also the only series that had the perfect series finale (fight me, but after coronavirus cause there’s a no-touching ban). Eleanor Shellstrop is shocked to find herself in the Good Place following her death and immediately realizes she’s there by mistake. No one is prepared for her hilarious afterlife antics as she hides from architect Michael and her new friends while trying to become a better version of herself.

Don’t be deterred by the plot — a young Latina woman learns she’s pregnant after she’s accidentally artificially inseminated. The series weaves together the best parts of a telenovela while adding heart, feshed-out characters, strong female leads, irresistible love interests, and family at the forefront of every storyline.

 

Love is Blind

In the reality TV vein, Netflix delivered the world’s newest obsession. It’s a social experiment that many claim prepared our generation for dating throughout “social distancing.” Love is Blind forces a handful of contestants to meet people while isolated in pods. Once they find their “soulmate,” they propose to them without meeting face-to-face and a few weeks later, walk down the aisle.

 

YOU

If you’re not familiar with Joe Goldberg, you’re missing out. YOU is a suspenseful thriller that digs into the mind of an obsessed serial killer and follows his romantic relationships.

 

Game of Thrones

Similarly to Greys Anatomy, when else are you going to find the time to watch all of Game of Thrones? This is the perfect time to dig into a pop culture phenomenon so you know what “winter is coming” means the next time someone mentions it.

 

The Marvelous Ms. Maisel

If there’s anyone that can cheer you up and put a smile on your face, it’s Ms. Maisel. Set in the late 1950s, Miriam aka “Midge” breaks the rules and pursues a career in stand-up comedy. While it’s unheard of for women of her class to pursue a career, it’s even more unheard of a woman succeeding in such an industry. But leave it to Midge to prove everyone wrong and do it with flair and style!

Binge. Enjoy. And wash your hands!


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TV Reviews

Tweets and Memes About The Good Place Series Finale That Will Hit You in The Feels

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The Good Place Series finale best tweets

The series finale of The Good Place will go down in history as a finale that got the closest to perfect.

There was incredible character development, poignant moments, organic callbacks to past seasons, and most importantly, closure on its own terms.

Related: 10 Best Lessons The Good Place Taught Us

With all that working for them, it was enough to get Twitter all types of misty-eyed.

See the tweets and memes about the bittersweet series finale that will hit you right in the feels!

Be sure to read our series finale review right here!

https://twitter.com/adoresbell/status/1223397899196825600?s=20

https://twitter.com/witchnoru/status/1223117357926608906?s=20

https://twitter.com/XS_mmr/status/1223278675002609670?s=20

https://twitter.com/adoresbell/status/1223756460825436162?s=20

https://twitter.com/chidi_anagonye_/status/1224009046157676549?s=20

https://twitter.com/BabyYoga5/status/1223862592893935616?s=20

https://twitter.com/Porkcow002/status/1223680161977114624?s=20


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TV Reviews

The Good Place Review – Moving On (4×13)

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The Good Place Whenever You're Ready Review

The Good Place has completed its journey and is ready to go.

No crazy twist. No insane change of status quo. No dressing.

“Whenever You’re Ready” is the final chapter of The Good Place, and evokes the power and emotion that it does precisely because it doesn’t go wild.

The episode focuses in on each character, providing us a glimpse at what was important to them in their lives and what is important to them in their afterlife. From a narrative perspective, this approach allows the show to dive into the characters one last time to give us a perspective on what’s important to them and allows us to feel – just as they feel – when and why they are ready to leave the Good Place.

Jason has his time with Janet, completes the perfect game of Madden with his dad cheering him on, and throws a final party with his dance crew and EDM before heading off.

Tahani creates a positive relationship with her parents and her sister, then throws one final gathering of which she personally created every aspect of, including the furniture and food. A wonderful moment, as instead of tasking others with her every party need, she finally assumes the role of all those smaller jobs she at one point considered below her. Afterwards, Tahani finds a new calling in her afterlife and decides to become an architect.

Chidi witnesses his mother share her love with Eleanor and Eleanor’s mother treat her like a daughter. Yet he decides to stay a little while longer to allow Eleanor all the time with him that she needed.

Each of these stories is told from the focused character’s perspective, instead of as a unit. What gives the episode its sense of cohesion is that all these characters cross paths with each other through choice – Jason brings his friends to his party, Tahani meets up for a final gathering, and Chidi intertwines himself with Eleanor. The episode never feels disjointed despite having a distinct vignette structure.

However, alongside providing us perspective on these characters, this approach also provides perspective on what our lives are like (according to The Good Place). Asides from the dressing of these events being incredible (such as playing Madden on the jumbotron in a football stadium or walking through magic doors to go to Athens), each of these moments are small.

Tahani plays croquet with her family. Chidi walks around his old neighborhood. Jason tries to make Janet dinner.

These are the moments that make our own lives worth living. The connections and reflections we create are what we hold on to, and the ability to experience these moments is a gift. These simple moments are what allow each of these characters to move on from their lives because these are the moments that give them a sense of completeness.

These are the moments that Michael has been aching to experience his entire demon life.

Michael and Eleanor are the last two members of the squad remaining in The Good Place (Janet, of course, is still with them, but she will not be crossing through the doorway at any point, or so it seems). I am thrilled that these two are left together.

Michael and Eleanor are the reasons that everything on The Good Place happened. Eleanor and Chidi may have been the couple, but Eleanor and Michael were the team. Michael obviously started the series with his experiment, and Eleanor pushed it forward by constantly figuring it out.

The two are cut from the same cloth and Michael started his journey to the light side because of his ability to relate to Eleanor. Narratively, these two needed to be our ushers out of the story.

In a beautiful role reversal, Eleanor requests to Judge Gen that Michael be allowed to go to Earth to live out the rest of his life as a human, just as he had pleaded to Gen way back in Season 2’s “Somewhere Else.” Eleanor knows that Michael needs to experience human life to feel that he is complete, as he’s lost his way in the afterlife after running out of problems to solve.

Michael’s desire to be human has been present throughout the series, and the way he laughs at dropping a microwave dinner that is too hot reminds us how lucky we are to just be alive. Life is so full of stupid moments that not only do we take for granted, but ignore or actively get annoyed by.

This can’t be helped, and there are plenty of legitimately annoying occurrences in the world (why do people leave DVD’s in the DVD player?????), but it’s nice to be reminded to take a moment to appreciate those moments because by experiencing these moments, we are alive.

And being alive is special.

Outside of taking a stark stance on how to conduct ourselves as human, The Good Place’s biggest statement is that being alive is special, and being human is special. The series solidifies this point of view in its final episodes by making the claim that death is precisely what makes it special.

“Whenever You’re Ready” does a phenomenal job of showing us exactly why this is. We visibly see the joy drain from Chidi as he opens a menu in Paris and sees that the meal can be literally whatever he wants.

He’s bored. The perfect nature of his extended life has ceased to mean anything more to him. I can feel him wishing that the menu was set and that what he wants isn’t on it.

The restaurant not having what you want to eat is another very human moment, but it can lead to something exciting – a new dish and a new discovery.

When you have eternity, though, that doesn’t matter. There is nothing more to discover because you will eventually discover it all.

This is why death makes living special.

Unfortunately, in real life, we don’t exactly get to choose when we move on. Instead, we’re forced into making the best we can out of a seemingly random amount of time. We also don’t get to create our perfect experiences to fill that time with. We don’t know what happens when we die.

Michael’s time on Earth wouldn’t be human if he knew how the afterlife worked, so Eleanor’s clarification that the system may be different by the time he returns doubles down on death creating value in life. Michael is glad he doesn’t know what will happen because that makes him more human than anything.

A beautiful message, despite its sadness, and a message befitting of The Good Place at its end.

I cannot say I feel the finale was perfect, however (though obviously I think it is amazing).

Eleanor walked through the final door too quickly. I just needed that camera to follow her a little more slowly. It might be a nitpick but I wish I had more time to fully take in the moment that this is it, this is the final time we will see Eleanor Shellstrop.

I also wish there could have been more of a goodbye between Eleanor and Michael, as they did have such a solid connection.

Outside of those gripes – excellent. So many callbacks for the series, incredible expressions of the show’s themes through both show and character, and many wonderful character moments with our six heroes.

Janet was everyone’s ambassador to the original “Good Place,” so her also leading them to their final moments is excellent. Throughout the series, Janet’s growth into almost human made her relatable and someone to care about, but she always remained tethered to the afterlife with her amazing knowledge and powers.

As far as I can tell, she will remain in the Good Place for many Bearimy’s to come, but her time with the humans and Michael will always remain with her. She gets genuinely choked up when her friends leave, so seeing her in their final moments only emphasizes how human she has become. However, Janet is seemingly left in a narrative limbo – we aren’t given clear evidence of exactly what Janet will be doing in the Good Place moving forward, nor what that means to her, which is a missed character beat I wish they hit.

But Jason waiting for her to return, essentially becoming a monk – great writing. An amazing callback with relevance, as Jason only truly became ready to walk through that door when he finally took time to check his impulses and appreciate the world around him.

The Good Place is an amazing series. I stand by my feelings that we should have had an extra episode in the Good Place to build up towards a stronger revelation regarding the exit door, and I definitely feel Season 3’s Earth saga halted the tempo of the series a bit; but overall, The Good Place may just be an all-timer.

I’ve become a better person by watching this series, and I have a better appreciation of life because of it. The finale pointed out moments from the show and moments from my life and said, “Hey! Remember this? Appreciate it.

I’m guessing I’m not the only person who feels this way after watching this show, and I know I won’t be the last.

The twist at the end of season one is what truly hooked me into this show and will forever be its most famous moment, and that twist blasted open the doors to the complexity of humanity and existence.

The show never repeated a move like that, and it didn’t need to. The strength of the story, messages, and characters, as well as the hilarious writing, is what makes it an all-time great series.

“Whenever You’re Ready” is a fantastic end to a fantastic series. The Good Place leaves our screens now, but the ideals it pushed forward will continue to have meaning in our everyday lives, and I’m grateful for the laughs and lessons.

Goodbye, Good Place. Take it sleazy.

Other Musings:

  • Another aspect of the Good Place that encourages residents to feel complete is that everyone there is kind to one another. This is another subtle narrative parallel to the messages that being good and trying to be good brings value to other’s lives.
  • Loved John’s cameo. Wish we could have seen Brent make it to the Good Place to prove that even someone like him could improve. It felt as though he had regressed a bit since his final revelation with Chidi in “Help is Other People,” though I suppose that’s likely from his memory wipe?
  • Michael replaced Doug Forcett’s photo with Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason.
  • The narrative memory of this show is great. Eleanor telling Mindy that she knows she cares for people because Mindy once said, “I’m rooting for you guys” is great continuity and a fantastic character detail that deepens Mindy.
  • When The Good Place announced it was ending after four seasons a lot of people were bummed out, but no good story lasts forever! Four seasons is perfect for this show. It allowed the series to essentially follow a typical three-act structure that makes it feel complete, with season two, three, and four acting as the three main parts with season one as a prologue. Thank you for ending with season four!

And that’s the end of The Good Place.


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