The Good Place focuses on Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), who wakes up in the titular “Good Place”, a heaven-like neighbourhood overseen by Michael (Ted Danson), as a reward for her good behaviour when she was alive. However, she has been sent there by mistake, and so must work with allies Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper), Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil) and Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto) to hide her misdeeds and become a more ethical person. The first half of its third season continues the excellent fun of the previous instalments, acting as a remarkably delightful gem of hilarity and sharp wit.
One thing that has always been remarkable about this show is the way in which the writers continually re-invent its central premise. The summary at the start of this review is where the show began, but it is certainly not where the show is at by its third season; to reveal the concepts for season 3 would spoil a whole host of reveals. What can be said, however, is that the writers continue this trend in exciting ways, thereby giving the show a freshness again and again that prevents it from ever feeling stale.
In a similar fashion, unlike many other sitcoms, characters in The Good Place are allowed to grow and develop rather than retaining the exact same personalities (in fact growth is baked into the premise of the show). It’s great to see how this cast of characters actually change in relation to events and each other, and it allows the writers to create interesting, new dynamics between its cast members. In particular, Ted Danson’s portrayal of Michael is wonderful to watch, not just because of his natural charisma and comedic timing, but also because the Michael of season 3 has grown so much from the Michael of season 1. Hence, not only does the narrative feel fresh, but the characters do too.
Yet one of the most appealing elements of the show is its wacky, whimsical tone. Michael Schur, the creator, has somehow spent two and a half seasons making moral philosophy fun, weaving it into the narrative in a hilarious way that isn’t ashamed of how ridiculous the whole thing is. Within this, the show puts forward a surprisingly idealistic message about the good in people and our ability to change. It’s more than you would expect from most shows of this type, and it makes for a show that’s not only enjoyable, but also makes you feel good about humanity.
Whether this consistent rejuvenation will last for the rest of the season remains to be seen, but for now, The Good Place continues to be a hopeful, entertaining sitcom that leaves its audience with a sense of delight.