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The Secret of The Good Place’s Biggest Twist

The Good Place/NBC Photo by: Justin Lubin

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Spoilers for the first season of The Good Place below

The Good Place/NBC, NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Season one of NBC’s The Good Place won over many fans with its likable characters, unique premise, and impressive use of cliffhangers on a weekly basis. The ability to end each chapter with a stinger that left the audience excitedly anticipating the next installment set The Good Place apart from other sitcoms.

In the last episode of the season, Eleanor drops the biggest reveal so far.

“THIS is the Bad Place.”

The show only gets to bask in its own glory for about ten seconds though, because it immediately upstages itself with an even bigger reveal: Michael is evil.

The Good Place/NBC "Dance Dance Resolution" 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The Good Place/NBC Photo by: Colleen Hayes

The cliffhanger endings throughout season one worked, but eventually the novelty of the unexpected wears off. Once it does, all you are left with is the characters. This is why Michael being evil is the most important part of the series’ heel turn.

Michael’s true nature and the “Good Place” being the “Bad Place” would seem to go hand in hand, but that isn’t necessarily true. There could have easily been a version of The Good Place where Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason go about their Good Place lives as they are without any Good Place architect guiding them. There even could have been a version where Michael is ACTUALLY a Good Place architect and is being duped as well. Revealing they are in the Bad Place in these versions would still have been effective; that’s a good reveal! But not a great one.

It’s shocking on a plot level, but it only recontextualizes the plot. Our view of the world changes but our relationship with the show only shifts. Humans are incredibly adaptive. Something is only new for a short while before it becomes accepted as the norm.

This is why the Michael reveal is so important to the sustainability of the twist. Revealing that Michael is evil not only recontextualizes the plot, but the character and all of his relationships. Not only haven’t we been watching what we thought we were watching, we weren’t even watching who we thought we were watching. The audience isn’t just hit with a shock but a betrayal. We rooted for you not to get retired, Michael!!!

The Good Place/NBC "Dance Dance Resolution" 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The Good Place/NBC Photo by: Colleen Hayes

That emotional attachment and the resulting personal investment is why The Good Place twist is so transcendent. We never break with our investment of the show. It isn’t so much a question of how did the writers pull this off, but how did Michael pull this off? It forces a compulsion on you to rewatch the first season, just as we all compulsively look back over a lost relationship after a breakup, trying to spot all the red flags that we definitely should have seen the first time.

This also sets up a second season that guarantees something we haven’t seen before – the real Michael. Characters are the gift that keep on giving, because unlike a new setting (or more accurately for The Good Place, our new understanding of the setting), character novelty doesn’t wear off as quickly. There are so many new facets of the show to explore through the real Michael. How will he interact with this world? With our heroes? How much of season one was an act and how much was truthful?

Considering we all know the humans won’t be eternally damned by the end of the series (that would be the subversion of all subversions, and probably not result in too great a story), if the big twist was only that the humans are in the Bad Place then our speculation going forward is limited to “how will they escape?” Revealing Michael’s true nature and goals allows us to not just speculate about the humans’ escape, but to wonder how Michael will fail. And I want to see it! He betrayed me. I want to watch him fail and get what he deserves. We know Michael, even if we didn’t know the real Michael, we are invested in him. That investment in his character carries us much further than any plot point ever could.

The Good Place/NBC -"Dance Dance Resolution" 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The Good Place/NBC Photo by: Colleen Hayes

The Good Place has a great plot twist, but it has a phenomenal character twist. Michael being evil is the secret weapon of the season ending cliffhanger and the key to its sustainability. Watching season one for the first time, my mind was shifting gears when Eleanor announced they were in the Bad Place, but my spine chilled and my brain exploded when Michael let out that iconic evil laugh. The series continued with a phenomenal second season, but before its airing many wondered how The Good Place could carry on after blowing up its world so completely. What could carry it forward?

The secret: Through all the twists and turns the show never lost the sight of the fact that it isn’t about what carries it, but who.


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What to Watch

Madelaine Petsch’s ‘Hotel for the Holidays’ Is a Gem Among Cliché Films

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Madelaine Petsch's Christmas Movie 'Hotel for the Holidays' Is an Absolute Gem Among Cliche Films

There are a lot of Christmas movies out there, which is why it’s important to make the right choice this holiday season. After all, no one has the time to waste over two+ hours on a bad movie. 

At the top of your list should be Hotel for the Holidays, a rom-com that offers a refreshing take on a festive genre that oftentimes lacks creativity simply because the forces behind the scenes know it will make money regardless as everyone longs for a slice of familiarity and comfort around the holidays.

There’s plenty of Christmas magic (it must’ve slipped through the cracks) in Hotel for the Holidays, and it sneaks up on you—and Madelaine Petsch’s character, Georgia—in the best possible way. It’s Amazon Freevee’s first original holiday flick, and hopefully, not the last. 

The plot is rather simple on the surface, but it isn’t predictable as with other holiday rom-coms.

Here’s the gist: Georgia is a young and ambitious hotel manager at the historic Hotel Fontaine (it gives The Plaza Hotel vibes from Home Alone 2), which attracts an eclectic bunch of guests, including some heartbroken singles, an infamous popstar, a European ex-prince looking for a taste of the real world, and more. They all arrive in New York City for the holidays looking for an escape from the norm, and Georgia is determined to give it to them. However, she also has her own plans and goals that get her into a bit of a love triangle with the hotel’s chef, Luke (Mesa Massoud from the live-action Aladdin), and the ex-prince, Raymond (Max Lloyd Jones from Book of Boba Fett). It also stars Kayleigh Shikanai (American Gods) as Pandora, Jami Belushi (According to Jim) as Kiki, Neil Crone (It) as Milton, and Jayne Eastwood (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as Florence.

Madelaine Petsch's Christmas Movie 'Hotel for the Holidays' Is an Absolute Gem Among Cliche Films

Credit: Amazon Freevee

Pretty early into the film, it’s obvious how Georgia’s romantic life will resolve itself, which allows the film to dig into other captivating subplots that are positively unexpected. Unlike other holiday films, Georgia values herself beyond a romantic partner, which, right off the bat, is a breath of fresh air. 

The supporting cast plays an integral part in the film, right down to the chef’s best friend/fellow chef and the janitorial staff. They may not be the sole focus of the series, but the team behind the rom-com found a way to involve them in a way that’s natural and easy to keep up with. Pretty soon, you find yourself rooting for the happiness of everyone at Hotel Fontaine—the staff and the guests.

The acting is also great. It’s just the right amount of feel-good so it never feels forced, nor do the character’s choices seem questionable. It’s all believable within the world they’ve created, aside from the scene where they are dining on a rooftop in the dead of a New York City winter without jackets or even sweaters. How are they not cold? As for the few over-the-top performances and characters, well, they also work—the prince’s bodyguard (AJ Zoldy) is a delight.

If I’m being perfectly honest, the magical thing about the film is that it’s a love letter to the community of people you surround yourself with: your found family.

The film doesn’t just settle for telling a story about two people who finally admit that they love each other because that’s tired and expected. Instead, it recognizes that romance comes in all shapes and sizes—in romantic partners, in co-workers, in friends, and even in new acquaintances that pass through your life for a brief moment (or stay awhile). 

Madelaine Petsch's Christmas Movie 'Hotel for the Holidays' Is an Absolute Gem Among Cliche Films

Credit: Amazon Freevee

The storylines come together seamlessly, and the themes of belonging and acceptance—in addition to staying true to yourself, finding the inspiration to pursue your goals and ambitions, and acknowledging that it’s ok to move and find happiness on your own terms, even if it doesn’t always please everyone—help the film stand out among the other cliche seasonal offerings.

Most importantly, Petsch shines… and it’s so deserved. The film allows her to show off her range of acting chops that, sadly, get stifled on Riverdale. The CW series may have been her mainstream big break, but it stopped working in her favor a long time ago, so it’s exciting to see her take on new projects and characters. 

Of all the Christmas films that I’ve seen in 2022 thus far, Hotel for the Holidays is one of the best. 

Check it out for yourself when it premieres on Dec. 2 on Amazon’s Freevee. 

Read On:

Your Guide to All the Must-Watch Christmas Movies of 2022

Freddie Prinze Jr. Is Back! Everything We Know About the ‘Christmas With You’ Heartthrob

Where Was ‘Falling for Christmas’ Filmed?


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What to Watch

9 TV Shows to Watch After Thanksgiving Dinner

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9 TV Shows to Watch After Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is a time for reconnecting with friends and family and indulging in some delicious meals. 

But after all the turkey, sides, and pie is cleared off the plate, the only acceptable activity is binge-watching some feel-good TV shows. 

Here are some post-Thanksgiving dinner show suggestions:

 

Virgin River

You’ll be just as surprised as Mel to fall in love with the picturesque town of Virgin River. Come for the views, stay for Jack. 

 

Hart of Dixie

Dr. Zoe Hart arrives in Alabama looking for a fresh start and learns that the Southern way of living might actually be what’s best for her. 

 

Gilmore Girls

An unbreakable mother and daughter bond, a charming town that would make any Lifetime movie jealous… plus, an unspoken love for coffee? Say no more.

 

Selena + Chef

You might know her as a Disney Channel actress and pop star, but now, she’s adding chef to her resume. And since Thanksgiving is all about food, this is one show you don’t want to pass up. 

 

The Cleaning Lady

You might think it’s odd that a mafia crime drama made the list, but at its core, the series is about family and how far two dedicated and loving moms would go for their family. It’s a thrill from beginning to end! 

 

Walker

The modern-day update to the Chuck Norris classic hones in on family above everything, with a side of roundhouse kicks. 

 

A Million Little Things

A group from Boston bond under the unlikeliest of circumstances and get a much-needed wake-up call following the death of a close friend. 

 

La Brea

Though it falls into the “sci-fi mystery” category, La Brea hinges on a family determined to find their way back to each other despite all the obstacles standing in their way and all the sacrifices needed to be made.

 

Dream Home Makeover

If there’s ever a time to get inspired for a home makeover, it’s after the holidays (and during Black Friday when everything is on sale!) And the McGee family is the cherry on top! 

 

This Is Us

This is… a no-brainer. No show captures the essence of what it means to be a complicated, loving, flawed, and fulfilled family more than this NBC drama.

 

Angel the Series: Why The Series is The King of Found Family Shows

27 TV Characters Who Would Cook a Mean Thanksgiving Dinner


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Dead to Me

When Is ‘Dead to Me’ Season 3 Coming Out?

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When Is 'Dead to Me' Season 3 Coming Out?

There’s been a lot of buzz about the upcoming third season of Dead to Me, which will, unfortunately, also be the final season of the Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini-led comedy drama.

When Will Dead to Me Season 3 Premiere?

Well, the wait is thankfully almost over because the series is set to hit Netflix on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022. 

And that means, you’ll have the whole entire weekend to binge watch all 10 episodes to see how Jen Harding and Judy Hale’s adventures come to an end. 

It’s been a bit since new episodes aired, however, with Dead to Me Season 2 dropping on the streaming giant in May 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic along with Applegate’s MS (multiple sclerosis diagnosis) delayed the upcoming season significantly, so it’s understandable if you don’t actually remember where things left off. 

How Did Dead to Me Season 2 End? Let’s Recap! 

For starters, a dog digs up Steve Wood’s body with his brother, Ben, getting the dreaded call. Judy and Jen find the money that Steve was laundering for the Greek mafia behind the frames of Judy’s art paintings, which allows them to buy out the house and get a new car for Charlie with a shiny new bow on top. Unfortunately, on their way home, they get into an accident with another vehicle… and it’s revealed that the driver that hit them is Ben, who has an empty bottle of liquor by his side. He’s a little banged up, but he drives away.  This is honestly messy, so I’m glad we’re on the cusp of the new season. And on top of all of that, Charlie finds the letter that Jen wrote (and Judy didn’t destroy), which probably includes way too much information about what’s going on. 

Dead to Me Season 3 Trailer

Applegate on Filming the Final Season

Applegate, who recently received her much-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, told Variety that while filming the new season of the Emmy-award winning drama amid her MS diagnosis was challenging (she had to use a wheelchair to get to set because walking was difficult and painful), she remained dedicated to finishing out the story for fans, which we truly admire and are grateful for.

When the creative forces behind the show asked if she wanted to pull the plug since they felt like they were “torturing her,” she replied, “But I was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no: We have to finish this story. It’s too important to our hearts; too important to our souls. And we have to give this gift, not only to ourselves — there are people that love these characters, and we’ve got to let them have their closure too.’ So, if that meant me having to take a break in the middle of the day so I could go sleep — or me just leaving because I couldn’t do anymore — then that’s what we had to do.”

And knowing how much dedication went into it will make watching this season so more rewarding and gratifying.

 


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