I wanted something low key to watch while pumping milk. Stressful shows make it difficult to have a letdown reflex*. This show is funny, thought-provoking, and I found it completely binge worthy. These are the reasons I was hooked.
1 – Diversity
One of the first things you’ll notice about the show is the diverse cast. The Brainy Bunch in this group includes:
- a blonde, self-proclaimed “dirtbag” from Arizona
- a Senegalese moral philosophy professor
- a Pakistani-British heiress
- a Philipino-American DJ from Florida
- an elderly white “American” demon
- an immortal, excessively powered being with all the knowledge in the universe in a pleasant, non-threatening form
This is what Jameela Jamil (Tahani) has to say about the show:
There was one episode in which there was me and two other South Asian actresses on the show — none of whom were playing South Asian people with South Asian accents, we were just playing people. We constantly talk about this whenever we’re on screen together, that it’s so nice to have more than one [of us] on set at a time, and also for that not to be the staple part of our character. It is really quite sad how remarkable it is, but I hope more people kind of see that we haven’t bombed because there are brown people on television, and they will follow suit.
2 – Complex Social Commentary
Especially with the character Eleanor, moral questions are presented. They don’t pretend to know the answers or push a particular religion. In fact they purport that only one person came remotely close, and that enlightenment was facilitated by recreational drugs.
Some of the classic philosophers and moral dilemmas are presented in a comical, thought provoking way that is accessible and also touches on modern problems: global warming, poverty, human trafficking and more.
This show is not heavy or depressing (at least not from where I’m sitting) despite these themes.
3 – Relatable Characters
Absurdities abound, especially in the first season. The characters are larger than life. Their flaws are over the top, but relatable.
Jason is ambitious, though oblivious. He’s not intentionally bad. Many of his bad deeds stem from amorality rather than malevolence. He probably thinks of himself as a good person. He’s orderly neutral – he plays by a set of rules, but it’s a different game than everyone else. We’ve probably all been guilty of being inconsiderate regarding the effects of our actions.
Eleanor knows she’s not a great person. She skirts the edge of being bad without jumping into that abyss. She looks out for numero uno no matter the consequences. Her actions she justifies by a difficult past. She’s chaotic neutral. The most predictable element of her character before she begins developing is that she is all about self-preservation. Later in the series, a character tells Eleanor that while most people struggle with Us versus Them, her struggle is more basic: me versus us. Eleanor doesn’t belong. We can all find a way to justify our selfish behavior on our past: life is hard for everyone in various and sundry ways. Hard is hard. It isn’t a competition.
We’ve probably all been guilty of justifying selfish actions.
Chidi is a good person. Chidi tries very hard, too hard even. He’s a moral philosophy professor, for crying out loud.
His indecision, though, is crippling and makes him actually sick to his stomach. He is orderly good. We can probably all relate to the fear that motivates him. He wants so badly to do the right thing that he ends up doing nothing.
Tahani has done many good deeds. She’s a philanthropist! Her motivation, however, is selfish: she seeks approval. She’s chaotic good. We can probably all relate to wanting others to like us. That’s why peer pressure is a thing!
Michael and Janet have relatable traits as well, but their development isn’t as intrinsic to the show.
4 – Incredible Balance of Central Conflict
So many shows write themselves into a corner. There’s a term for this: jumping the shark. It’s a reference to when Fonzie in “Happy Days” jumped over a shark while wearing water skis.
“Arrested Development” poked fun at this when Harry Winkler, the actor who played The Fonz, hopped over a tiny shark.
I wasn’t sure how “The Good Place” could have a decent second season. I wasn’t sure how they could fulfill the franchise by delivering “the same thing, but different”. They did, though! Now I’m enjoying the third season (May they keep on coming).
A show that lost me due to not maintaining its central conflict was “Castle”. Once Castle and Kate Beckett’s unrequited love became caused by Beckett’s blatant choice to “not remember ” his confession of love, I quickly lost interest.
The central conflict – the over-arching problem in the premise of the show- has been maintained in “The Good Place” to my surprise and delight.
Thanks for reading! What makes a show binge worthy for you? Please comment and let me know. 💕
The letdown reflex is also called the milk ejection reflex. Cortisol, the stress hormone, blocks this process.
While most mothers don’t have to be exclusive pumpers like me, I do want to talk about this normal biological process that is misunderstood. If you’re interested in learning more, please click here.