The Good Place
By Joyce Slaton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Incredibly original afterlife sitcom has charm, diversity.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Show about an afterlife hopefully spent in a "good place" assumes that people want to be good. In that good place, all of one's earthly actions are weighed and a suitable afterlife is given to each person.
Positive Role Models
Main character Eleanor is not, we are told, a good person, yet we watch her redemptive journey. We see her struggle with various problems and her own character defects, ultimately choosing kindness over harm. Good behaviors are explicitly praised, selfish or bad ones criticized.
Violence & Scariness
Mild jokes about offscreen violence, such as the auto accident that killed our main character. In one episode, characters are splattered with blood after running people over with a trolley in a lifelike simulation.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Somewhat off-color jokes include one about an erectile dysfunction drug; a woman asks if a man in her past was gay because he didn't want to have sex with her; a woman tells a man to eat her farts and makes use of the word "horny." In the heaven-like "good place," each person is said to have a soul mate with whom they'll spend the rest of eternity. One character talks about frequently masturbating. Two characters discuss sex positions. Characters are seen together in bed, but no graphic nudity.
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In the show's heaven-like setting, it's impossible to curse. "Somebody royally forked up," says Eleanor before being told she can't curse. "That's bullshirt," she says. One woman insults a tall rival by calling her a "cartoon giraffe" and a "butthead." A character insults larger people by calling them "chunksters." A use of "badass."
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Products & Purchases
In the afterlife, characters still care about big houses and expensive belongings and compete on those terms.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink champagne and wine; an annoyed woman storms off to the bar when she needs to blow off steam; a woman has 30 glasses of wine and marvels that she doesn't have a hangover in the afterlife.
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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.
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The Good Place
Based on 71 parent reviews
What is too mature, they don't understand
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The Good Place is a creative sitcom/drama with great diverse role models and philosophy thrown in!
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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?
- Premiere date: September 22, 2016
- Cast: Ted Danson, Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, D'Arcy Carden, Jameela Jamil
- Network: NBC
- Genre: Comedy
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: March 30, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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