There are a ton of reasons to like The Good Place. It’s funny as hell, it’s sweet and thoughtful, it has the best food-related puns in television history, it has a great cast that goes at least six deep before you start counting its already impressive list of guest stars, it turned Blake Bortles into a borderline inspirational figure, etc. I could go on and on, and I will if you want to meet for coffee at Biscotti Pippen this weekend and talk about it. But for now I want to focus on my favorite part of the show: This sucker takes some big swings, man.
Just look at some of the things that have happened so far:
- At the end of season one, the show revealed — via Ted Danson evil laugh — that the characters had been in the Bad Place all along, and that everything they had seen and experienced had been part of a customized torture program to make them miserable.
- At the beginning of the second season, the show threw things into the wood chipper again by rebooting the failed experiment hundreds of times before creating an Us Against The World scenario in which Ted Danson’s evil immortal demon character, Michael, was now on their side.
- Before any of this even started, Michael Schur had to walk into someone’s office at NBC and pitch an extremely high-concept sitcom about philosophy and self-improvement set in a theoretical afterlife.
All of that is incredibly ambitious and bordering on audacious, especially for a show that airs on network television at 8:30 pm, and it brings us to the latest development, from the season two finale: In a last-ditch attempt to help the formerly-alive humans make it to the real Good Place, Michael and the Eternal Judge (Maya Rudolph) concoct a plan to send them back to the real world to give them a chance to cheat their deaths and improve themselves, with no memory of anything that happened in the afterlife to guide them.
(There’s an open question here about whether Eleanor and the crew were actually sent back to life — as in, reversing their deaths — or if it’s all a simulation created by Michael. I was Team IRL on this until I saw Michael standing behind the bar, in what one can only assume was a Cheers shout-out by Cheers superfan Mike Schur. I don’t know all the rules about immortal demons and jumping through dimensions, but it seems more logical and less troublesome that he would just hop into his own simulation without bending real-life events. But what do I know?)