In times of incessant and troubling news alerts, there's a reassuring place that makes all of it disappear—at least for a half hour. The Good Place.
NBC's comedy from Parks and Recreation co-creator Mike Schur is firing on all cylinders in its straight up delightful second season. Starring Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, D'Arcy Carden, Jameela Jamil, William Jackson Harper and Manny Jacinto, the series about the afterlife actually gives life with every episode. Here's your obvious spoiler warning.
Season one of the series ended with Eleanor Shellstrop (Bell) realizing she wasn't in heaven, rather she was in The Bad Place, or hell. It was all a trick, devised by Michael (Danson), to torture Eleanor, Tahani (Jamil), Chidi (Jackson Harper) and Jason (Jacinto).
Yep, the whole first season was a trick. It duped viewers too. With the brilliant twist, the second season hit the reset button. Again. And again, until finally landing (for now) on a premise that has the four dead humans teaching the demon, Michael, ethics and what it means to be human. This description doesn't do the show justice, because it's really a sight to behold.
The Good Place is the best and wildly entertaining distraction, where torture demons wear flashy bowties, and a living computer, Janet (Carden), randomly loses thumbs. However, it also brings viewers right back to reality with shockingly human scenes, like the one above.
"All humans are aware of death," Eleanor told Michael in the Thursday, Oct. 12 episode. "So we're all a little bit sad All the time. That's just the deal."
"Sounds like a crappy deal," Michael said.
"Well, yeah. It is. But we don't get offered any other ones. And if you try to ignore your sadness, it just ends up leaking out of you anyway," Eleanor replied.
That is some deep stuff for a comedy that has a clam chowder fountain.
Take a look at at Bell and Danson in that scene. These two are doing some of the best work of their careers. The comedic chemistry between them is electric—and the entire cast just works so well together. Usually with an ensemble cast there's a certain "annoying character" that doesn't sit right with viewers, but not here. The Good Place is career defining for Bell and Danson (yes they had iconic past roles in Veronica Mars and Cheers, but these roles require different skillsets from the actors) and for sure a star-making show for Carden, Jackson Harper, Jacinto and Jamil.
By leaning in on the wacky (like presenting Chidi with an ethical dilemma that constantly ended with him splattered with guts) and the character development, The Good Place is going to new heights. Even the weakest episodes are better than the majority of content on TV right now. It introduced a new form of cursing and the writing never fails to be quick-witted, with each episode good for no fewer than two audible laughs.
The Good Place might be The Bad Place for the characters, but in a real world that certainly feels increasingly like a bad place, the show really is a forking great place.
The Good Place airs Thursdays, 8:30 p.m. on NBC—hopefully forever.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)