A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Good Place is a fantasy sitcom about a woman who dies and goes to a heaven-like afterlife. Moral messages are underlined unusually clearly on this show, since only good actions and people are allowed in this "good place"; positive actions such as helping others are explicitly praised, while actions such as defrauding others of their money are criticized. Expect some vulgar language, but cursing is subverted, as there's no rough language in the afterlife: The main character says "fork this" and "bullshirt." There are jokes about bodily functions, body parts, and being "horny." Adult characters drink wine and cocktails at a party; a woman drinks 30 glasses of wine and acts drunk and sloppy but has no hangover when she wakes. Cast boasts extensive racial and ethnic diversity, with people of color in main roles.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Somebody's made a mistake. Snarky con artist Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) has died, and instead of receiving her just rewards she winds up in THE GOOD PLACE, with heavenly coordinator Michael (Ted Danson) ushering her into a new life with a cute and tiny house, a group of morally upright neighbors, and her supposed soul mate, Chidi (William Jackson Harper). Saintly Chidi, a former ethics professor, is the only one who knows Eleanor's not where she's supposed to be, a fact that causes strange shock waves to radiate out through the afterlife. But Eleanor is hoping that she can make herself a better person, worthy of the place in which she hopes to stay.
Is it any good?
This bright charmer is a delightful and surprisingly deep exploration of the complexities of being, well, good. The Good Place, it turns out, is a series of sprawling suburbs, each one designed to meet all the needs of its (un-?) dead population and stocked with neighbors selected to harmonize with one another. Eleanor's heavenly neighborhood is one of green lawns and yogurt shops (but then, those are everywhere: "People love frozen yogurt," shrugs Michael), with shops such as the Small Adorable Animal Depot and a house that's supposedly specially made for Eleanor, with a primary color scheme and many pictures of clowns.
Of course, Eleanor doesn't fit -- not into the house, not into the neighborhood, not into this heaven cognate, and soon her snark and selfishness cause unforeseen consequences. She doesn't want to go to the Bad Place that people talk darkly but vaguely about, so her only choice is to try to improve herself enough to keep her spot in the neighborhood. It's hardly an original setup, but the jokes are fun (a list of everyone in the Bad Place includes Elvis, Mozart, and every American president but Lincoln), and Bell retains the flip, mouthy attitude that made her a breakout star on Veronica Mars, while Danson radiates a Willy Wonka-esque appeal. It all comes together in a show that's mild but fun and good for whole-family watching with tweens on up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way women are portrayed on television and why main female characters tend to be such a rarity. Are women on TV more often shown working together or working against each other? What about on The Good Place? How do TV stereotypes match up to the behavior of the women you know in real life?
Many shows begin with a character new to a setting or situation being shown around. Why? Name some examples you've seen.
Life-after-death scenarios are a staple of fantasy movies and TV shows. Why? Why are shows that tell viewers what might happen after death appealing?
For kids who love comedy
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