Unfortunately, despite the title this show isn’t about the cheese aisle in a humungous Tesco – though we reckon that would make great viewing – and is in fact a seriously funny series about that oh-so-comical topic: death. We’re headed up to heaven in this fantastical, escapist treat.
Our adventure begins when our amoral, boozy lead Eleanor – who Disney fans will recognise as Frozen’s Anna – wakes up in what looks like a dentist waiting room, only to be told that she is in fact dead, and this is the afterlife. Her heavenly mentor Michael (Ted Danson) then reveals that she’s been sent to The Good Place, where morally pristine, good citizens go when they die. But this isn’t the heaven we’ve heard about before, with angels, clouds, and Brad Pitt lookalikes serving endless piña coladas. Here heaven looks like a manufactured suburban town, where the grass is so green it looks artificial, and the cobbled stones so neatly arranged it looks like linoleum. Naturally, self-centred and unprincipled Eleanor soon starts to stick out amongst her pious neighbours as she and fellow misfit Jason start to question whether they have in fact been sent to The Wrong Place. Joined by fellow Good Place residents, the moral philosopher Chidi and wealthy socialite Tahani, the group of mismatched mates try to figure out why they’re here.
For such a wonderfully funny, silly sitcom, this story really takes us on a ride. There are plot twists, big reveals and in-depth character development, all dealing with this fantastical world and the grey areas of morality. It both embraces and rejects sitcom stereotypes, proving that you can blend the whimsical with the intelligent, creating a truly escapist comedy that makes big points whilst having you belly laughing.
That’s thanks to the writing by show creator Michael Shur, who also had us chuckling with his previous work on The Office (US) and Parks and Recreation. His use of sharp, witty gags and ongoing irony that had us binge watching those shows is alive and well in this one too – unlike its characters – bringing you those same consistent laughs, lovable characters and utterly quotable lines.
No surprise then, that it has garnered such a huge number of fans. Ellen E Jones in The Guardian says the show has “become the ideal antidote to the news cycle,” saying of Shur’s writing: “The Good Place, with its pastel hues and twee, euphemistic cursing was his most whimsically escapist yet. The Telegraph’s Ed Power calls this “a reflection on morality and the meaning of life that is also snort-your-tea-out-your nose funny,” concluding “for astute comedy fans this is simply heavenly viewing.”
First shown September 2017. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.