The Good Place: A Girl from Arizona, Part 2
October 4, 2019 4:14 AM - Season 4, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Eleanor, Michael, Janet and Tahani have their hands full when the new residents begin to show their true colors; Jason receives some unsettling news.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (62 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Good Janet would never have crushed Jason with the news about Bortles. That's Bad Janet in a Good Janet suit, for sure.*
Orrrrr, such a hurtful slip was an example of how hard it's getting for Janet to hold the simulation together. I did note in one scene where everyone is in the room discussing plans, Janet was kind of bobbing/swaying her head as if she was having trouble focusing or becoming dizzy.

Michael, otoh, didn't show any sign of being replaced on the train that I could discern. Unless his pep-talk to Eleanor was a Bad Place way of keeping an in-over-her-head human in charge of everything?

Chidi winning over Simone was a great scene, though I was kind of surprised how easily she turned given how convinced she was that it was all an illusion. All it took was a finger in her fro-yo.

Overall, I'm not sure this episode was any less a mess than Pt.1 was. Maybe that's the point? That this version of TGP is wildly unstable and uncontrollable.

* And, if that is true, I'm going on record in saying they're overusing the "suit" gag.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:46 AM on October 4 [8 favorites]


Like Jason, Bad Janet would seem to lack the impulse control necessary for this or any ruse. Plus, I think torturing Brent would be too irresistible. He is pretty punchable.

I noticed they put Michael in a black bowtie right away, and his attitude in a couple of spots seemed off at the beginning of the episode, so I'm kinda wondering there.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:08 AM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Like Jason, Bad Janet would seem to lack the impulse control necessary for this or any ruse.

Shawn has had some amount of time to figure out how to either A) program a Bad Janet to be more subtle, or 2) steal another Good Janet and program her to be just bad enough.

I thought this was a good second half of the season premiere, and at least answered some of the questions. But I still have one: What is Tahani's role? Have we seen her interacting with any of the subjects (aside from a moment with the gossip guy at the end of S3), or even any of the Janet-baby fake residents? Is she supposed to be another resident, or on the staff, or what?
posted by Etrigan at 6:02 AM on October 4 [2 favorites]


I agree it seemed like the train seemed like a setup for a Janet switch, but if so then we should have seen the neighborhood implode since she would be incapacitated. On the other hand sharing the Blake Bortels news seemed unnecessary.

Since it seems like they have things somewhat on track this episode, I assume everything will be tossed out the window by the end of the next episode.
posted by mikepop at 6:07 AM on October 4 [3 favorites]


I liked this episode and felt like it set up what might be a larger theme of season 4?

(These are super reductive, mind you, but)
Season 1: how to be good to get what you want (stay in the Good Place)
Season 2: how to be good without ulterior motive (and get in the real Good Place)
Season 3: how to be good despite knowing it won't change your personal situation (how to help humanity get in the Good Place)

And Michael's pep talk for Eleanore felt like a continuation of that theme of what it means to be good and put oneself out there for others when the world does not give you any incentive to do so. Worse yet, when you're completely overwhelmed as it is, and you feel like you, "a girl from Arizona", cannot possibly change a world in turmoil for the better. (But you still have to try, regain some hope, and trust in yourself.)

This then makes me think that we might spend more episodes in this new Good Place experiment than we might expect from this show. (But who knows! I'm perfectly fine with being wrong and would like to be surprised with where things are going.)
posted by bigendian at 6:41 AM on October 4 [2 favorites]


Chidi was so appropriately impressed at the thought of saving all the ducks -- and the horses! -- I nearly expected him to be the one to realize that he didn't belong in the Good Place. But as long as Brent and mean gossip boy (name?) are running around town, Chidi should feel good about having made the cut.

But I still have one: What is Tahani's role?

Yes! Psychological niceties/warfare are her main thing! And she spent her life surrounded by privilege and other very self-involved people. She should be taking point on Brent. Let Eleanor focus on mean gossip boy (they probably have more in common).
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:10 AM on October 4 [9 favorites]


mean gossip boy (name?)

John, not that we've heard it at all this season.
posted by Etrigan at 7:12 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]


So the duck/horse saver was a Janet baby, right? The Janet babies are all a little off, right? I wonder if the real humans will ever notice that.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:30 AM on October 4 [3 favorites]


I was expecting that maybe someone overheard Eleanor and Michael talking and realized that it was all a ruse - since we haven't seen much of John this season, my money is on him.

I feel like Michael forshadowed it this episode - the humans figured out something was up 800 times, what's going to stop them this time?
posted by dinty_moore at 7:36 AM on October 4 [6 favorites]


I knew Chidi was going to get whapped by that book. And yet when it happened, I still snorffled.
posted by merriment at 9:53 AM on October 4 [37 favorites]


Liked this episode a lot -- more than the first one. That was an average Good Place episode, this was a good one.

Leaning a bit towards Fake Janet, not so sure about Fake Michael. If that is Fake Michael, he's playing an awfully subtle game.
posted by kyrademon at 9:53 AM on October 4


Voting for Fake Michael and Fake Janet. I read the pause and the chortle of “oh that” as Vicky not knowing that happened and playing it off as agreeing with Eleanor’s version of what happened. And kicking Jason when he’s down is a very bad Janet thing to do. Heck - Michael could have been rebooting a bad Janet daily to get this level of trickery and subterfuge. And maybe Bad Janet could be concentrating enough to keep the fake neighborhood. I think they’ve both been replaced after seeing this second half.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 12:07 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Chidi getting hit with a book was a joke that I saw coming but still made me bark-laugh.

I still suspect that at some point Chidi's inability to choose just one book will result in the visual joke of him buried under a heap of a bookshelf amount of books.
posted by Faintdreams at 12:50 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


Ugh
Michael could have been rebooting a bad Janet daily to get this level of trickery and subterfuge

should be

Shawn could have been rebooting a bad Janet daily to get this level of trickery and subterfuge
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 1:02 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


While fake Michael seems sort of likely, fake Janet presents some serious challenges. Maybe you could replace her with a cosplaying Bad Janet but what do you do with the real one? How do you subdue and contain an all-powerful being? Marble-ize her? Then the whole neighborhood would have imploded.
posted by wabbittwax at 3:15 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Is this the first time Eleanor has referred to herself as a girl from Arizona, not a trashbag?
posted by Monochrome at 3:59 PM on October 4 [10 favorites]


I was so sure when Eleanor was breaking down in front of Michael about her frustrations that he was going to reveal she was in yet another level of test and she passed by being introspective and humble or something.

It still does kind of feel like Michael is trying to nudge her towards something like she's trying to do with the subjects.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:20 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


I have no real evidence, but I really think that the first three episodes of this season were written as one three-episode-length premiere. It'd explain the weird pacing. The lack of a twist or complication at the end of any of these episodes feels out of place, and they haven't really said anything about the gossip guy. I figure the next episode will focus on getting him on track, and then rug will be yanked out (I also suspect a Michael-suited Vicki, I don't think he would have actually faked that breakdown).
posted by smasuch at 6:36 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


I was expecting that maybe someone overheard Eleanor and Michael talking and realized that it was all a ruse - since we haven't seen much of John this season, my money is on him.

This I think is the key to the next episode (presuming they keep up their "three-episode mini-arcs, toss up everything" habit) is that John has been snooping around skillfully just, like, everywhere. In the premier, when Eleanor came into Michael's office after dealing with Chidi, and Michael gave them all the pep talk, she left the door ajar.

Devotees will remember that in S1, whenever Michael seemed to be alone and acting like an angel, that there would be a door left ajar so that someone (Eleanor, usually) could be the beneficiary of his supposed angelic frustration. So I don't trust any open doors on this show.

Having not seen much of John or Tahani this season, I expect that's going to be a big part of Episode 3. Like Brent, I think John's self-involvement is going to be the hurdle towards making him recognize a need to improve, and that it's a lot more like Tahani's early self-involvement than she'd like to admit. She was doing ostentatious and self-aggrandizing charity and he was writing take-down pieces but both clearly saw themselves as having "made it" by virtue of hobnobbing with the rich and famous. As long as John is still fascinated with Tahani, and still generally a snoop, they can devise a plan to get him curious enough to try to learn what's really going on.

I was certain about Bad!Michael and Bad!Janet at the end of Chapter 40, but I really don't see any of that now. kittens for breakfast: Michael was wearing the same suitcoat/bowtie/pocket-square combo at the beginning of this as when he came off the train, which was the same as before he got on the train. If there's a long(er) con afoot there, I'm not seeing it yet.

I like that all of the Soul Squad have, in fact, improved, even if their old bad habits persist. Tahani still name-drops at every opportunity, but she's far humbler and genuinely concerned with the well-being of those around her. Jason is still wildly impulsive but is more self-reflective and respects advice on his crazy ideas. Chidi, memories erased, still gets his stomachaches but is no longer (so far) crippled by indecision. As Shawn feared, he can believe that he's in The Good Place, recognize Duck Lady's greater worthiness to be there, and take the opportunity to help Simone because it'd be good to help Simone (and also fall in love for the first time, which might gum up the works on his points, now that I think of it) but he genuinely seems excited to help for helping's sake.

And Eleanor, the Liar, using her gift for fibbery to help save humanity even as it hurts her. It's been a long time since the end of Season 2, but I think it's worth remembering that (implicitly) Eleanor was the only one who passed Gen's test for entrance to the Real Good Place, but refused to take it unless they all could go. If Vicki is wearing a Michael suit right now, then her plan is destined to backfire as, yes, Eleanor IS the only one who can do this. She was willing to go to damnation so that Vicki could take her place. She could have gotten in herself but didn't because that wasn't enough if others couldn't. I'm not a student of world religions but there's at least a rough Christ allegory there.

Favorite bits:

-Michael's Code that relives his headaches by saying "Jason, Jason,Jason, Jason, Jason."

-Brent's assuring the crowd that he, personally, thinks Martin Luther King was a great man.

- "Wait, are you asking Janet to make clothes for herself, that you are then giving back to her?" "Yeah, you're doing the math right there, bud."

-Remembering that in spite of myself, I still really enjoy "25 or 6 to 4"

-The super-telegraphed but still funny book-hitting-Chidi.

-An ice-cream-on-the-nose bit that is better than Xander and Willow flirting.

-Janet breaking the Bortles news, because Bad Janet couldn't have sold that with that much sincerity. Kristen Bell and D'Arcy Carden both killed it so hard in this two-parter, milking comedy out of sincere frustration and heartache.

-Jason's rule of giving it up for a good hi-five no matter how low he's feeling.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:18 PM on October 4 [23 favorites]


I think Michael's bowtie in the first scene is navy. His ties are very closely mirroring Eleanor's outfits through the episode: first navy, then powder blue, then purple print. It's a nice tie-in (ha!) to his being her assistant.
posted by meghosaurus at 7:19 PM on October 4


A great detail I didn’t catch on first watch was that during the chaos sequence all the giant golf balls are branded “Entitleist”.
posted by mikepop at 7:25 PM on October 4 [45 favorites]



And Eleanor, the Liar, using her gift for fibbery to help save humanity even as it hurts her.

save humanity? you don't think the show is ever going to figure out you can't be saved by a lie?

or that the ends don't justify the means?

or that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely?

I mean neither do I, but
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:53 PM on October 4


I think that if the show uses this season to tackle the idea that you can't be saved by a lie, it's biting off a lot more battles with established religions than I'm sure it's ready to chew.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:01 PM on October 4 [6 favorites]


plus the creep handed them his soft decent underbelly right there on a platter, when he explained to them that heaven isn't heaven without your friends. this can't be the best place, he says, because "if this is heaven, then where are my guys?" more advanced on that level than any of the other four jerks were when they got there. so, you know. redemption angle located.

if they had been listening. instead of staying hung up on despising him for being dumb enough to trust them and believe the lies they feed him. which trait they treat as worse than his history of committing or covering up sexual assault, because they never achieved any basic clarity on what ethics are.

the obvious angle for the season is to reveal that for the bad place, the real competition isn't about the new people, it's to see if they can corrupt the original four to an even lower moral state than they were in when living. by giving them the fatal power to play God and allowing them to indulge the irresistible urge to feel contempt for those those they have power over. but that's only if the writers read what they've written.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:03 PM on October 4 [14 favorites]


Rewatching random episodes, yeah, maybe Bad Janet and Bad Michael are still on the table.

In "The Burrito" Bad Janet is revealed to be Good Janet, having learned how to be bad in order to rescue Michael.

In "Flying Day," Tahani tries to trick "Jianyu" into talking and then says "Oh, you sly devil" when he doesn't. Jason is, of course, pretending to be someone else at that time. Eleanor says "Oh, you sly devil" to Michael after he confesses that his nervous breakdown was fake.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:09 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]




They built a Michael suit for the demons, maybe Shawn is wearing a Janet one.

I'm not a real Eleanor/Chidi shipper so I am not really loving the focus on it.
posted by jeather at 6:51 AM on October 5


I have no real evidence, but I really think that the first three episodes of this season were written as one three-episode-length premiere.

Future bingers won't mind at all.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:00 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


plus the creep handed them his soft decent underbelly right there on a platter, when he explained to them that heaven isn't heaven without your friends. this can't be the best place, he says, because "if this is heaven, then where are my guys?" more advanced on that level than any of the other four jerks were when they got there. so, you know. redemption angle located.

Jason would've probably said the same thing if he weren't immediately convinced that he was benefiting from a mistaken identity. But how much does valuing your friends and family really matter? There's a mix of motivations there, from the "noble" idea that I want them to do well for their own sake, to the "greedy" feeling that I want to keep my relationships strong because those relationships are worth something to me, to the dangerous notion that my people are my tribe and I want my tribe in power. It's not hard to be good to the people you love. But if you're sexually harassing (or conning, or molotov cocktailing) everyone else, you're not doing good.

I know the show will probably blow this all up next week, but I liked the idea they ended this episode with. When we pretend hard enough, humans are good at making things real. Brent won't become good by opening doors for people (not people), but it might be a first step to teach empathy to someone who has never considered another person's needs.
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:12 AM on October 5 [5 favorites]


plus the creep handed them his soft decent underbelly right there on a platter, when he explained to them that heaven isn't heaven without your friends. this can't be the best place, he says, because "if this is heaven, then where are my guys?" more advanced on that level than any of the other four jerks were when they got there. so, you know. redemption angle located.

If I died and showed up in The Good Place, S01E01 style, I wouldn't ask where my friends are. That's because none of them are dead yet. The original four are all in their 30s, a demographic with a lot fewer dead friends than Brent in his 50s. Brent likely has people in his social circle -- golf buddies, guys a few years ahead of him in the frat -- who have died before him. Eleanor and Chidi, to the degree that they have friends, probably don't have any friends who have died yet. Tahani certainly knows a large enough circle of people that she has friends who have died, but she can't actually be close to any of them; they're anecdotes and names to drop. Jason is the only one who both has friends and whose lifestyle makes it extremely likely that some of them are already dead, but he's being told he's not Jason, so on tenuous ground. But I don't even think this is necessarily the explanation.

Brent is sufficiently entitled, I think, that he expects his buddies to be there even though they aren't dead yet, because it would make things more fun for him.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:49 AM on October 5 [16 favorites]


But how much does valuing your friends and family really matter?

knowing that other people are real and have value is a major component of empathy as I understand it. or the other way around. either way, it seems fairly fundamental to an ethical system that involves the good of others. Understanding that people who are not your friends and family are also valuable and real is much easier to do if you have a concept of human value and reality in the first place.

being unable to be fully happy without knowing that the people you love are happy too is a major part of being a good person as I conceive it. even at a level lower, being unable to be fully happy without the people you love there -- getting more happiness from the simple presence of one's creature companions than from an endless supply of simulacra, frozen yogurt and cars and whatnot -- is a milestone worth celebrating. A milestone the other four had to go through an entire season and countless repetitions to achieve. you can call it entitlement to want your friends' company more than you want all the hollow afterlife trappings and Janet-service, but I wouldn't.

and maybe Brent has thought of the classic worry about How can you be perfectly happy in Heaven if some of your loved ones are still alive and suffering, or in Hell? or does missing them make you unworthy, too; do you have to stop loving sinners once the game is over and the afterlife prizes are allotted? it's less strange that he has than that the others haven't.
posted by queenofbithynia at 12:17 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


In season 1, Eleanor knows immediately that she's not supposed to be there because of the case of mistaken identity between her and "Real Eleanor". I'm surprised they didn't try that with any of the new four. They were willing to try the chaos sequence again, so why not have invented a switcheroo with the gossip guy, for example?
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 12:47 PM on October 5 [2 favorites]


It never even occurred to me that Brent was talking about specific guys. I thought he just meant ‘my type of guy’.
posted by bq at 1:11 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


Dat ash
posted by some loser at 1:55 PM on October 5 [3 favorites]


So two things:

1. I would argue that Brent is asking where all of his friends are because he doesn't think of them as individuals that have values outside of himself - I agree with Homeboy Trouble's take that all of those friends he mentioned are probably not even dead, and he's solipsistic enough to think that facsimiles of his friends is probably enough (I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he doesn't want all of his friends to be killed along with him so they can join him in the Good Place, but just).

For one thing, I don't think Brent would assume all of his people would belong in the Best Place - he wouldn't think it right if he didn't have it better than everyone else.

2. I get really uncomfortable with the idea that being good means valuing your friends and family - it's the sort of thinking that I associate with Evangelical christianity - that being good is being good to 'your people'. The Good Place has generally been about caring about people outside of the norm of the social contract - caring about people who annoy you, who are different from you. From that perspective, yeah, valuing your friends and family over everyone else matters a lot less.

The Good Place has touched on the idea that there can be no heaven without concern for friends' suffering (Eleanor rejecting her good place spot), I don't know if they'll go any further into it.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:47 PM on October 5 [3 favorites]


Brent is sufficiently entitled, I think, that he expects his buddies to be there even though they aren't dead yet, because it would make things more fun for him.

Or he is so enlightened that he knows about Jeremy Bearimy.
posted by Etrigan at 3:55 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


Brent forgot to mention PJ and Squi in his list of buddies.
posted by emkelley at 7:01 PM on October 5 [11 favorites]


Strong feels when Eleanor unloads her stress/ frustration.

Michael's pep talk is kinda bs, but at least we got "Ladies and gentlemen, back with her trademark brand of B- leadership, Eleanor Shellstrop."
posted by porpoise at 7:38 PM on October 5 [2 favorites]


I agree that Jason and Tahani are terribly underutilized, it seems as though the writers haven’t thought this through given the trait parallels mentioned above.

I like the idea that they are essentially playing god, so will absolute power corrupt? But I don’t think they’ve realized what they are being asked to do - penetrate another person’s defenses and ego structure to bring them to their own enlightenment. That’s a big ask. So then the true test is the method, not the achievement as also mentioned above. There’s a lot going on.

I agree that these episodes have been odd, thin on the belly busting jokes and setup is flat so far. I’m mixed on the idea of a Michael switchup but he did make a comment about the taste of human goo in the bad place and that it’s yummy that I found odd. Despite its shakiness right now I will definitely see this series through, even with missteps in execution this show has a lot to say and I know the writers have it all planned.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:11 PM on October 5 [3 favorites]


So the duck/horse saver was a Janet baby, right?

Well, Derek made the butt.
posted by Emmy Rae at 9:14 PM on October 5 [10 favorites]


Oh one more thing - Chidi and Simone will end up together. It’s just too clear. Eleanor and Chidi always struck me as really good friends, true Philia-love Friends who sometimes dated. Actually come to think of it, the four seasons are like moving through the four loves, isn’t it? Empathy, friendship, Eros and now unconditional agape. so yeah they’re not ending together and that’s ok.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:42 PM on October 5 [8 favorites]


I'm starting to wonder if the judge lied about the conditions of the test. Sure, there are the four new humans chosen by the Bad Place, but I wonder if the guy in the obelisk is calculating the point totals of the Soul Squad instead. Since the switchover, we've seen Tahani, Jason, and Elanor all backsliding a bit—is the test about power corrupting instead?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:31 PM on October 5 [7 favorites]


Brent and John will be interesting characters because their deliberate damage is still unknown. At this point, we can assume they didn't directly kill, rape or physically assault other people but they've both openly admitted to acting abusively, either through sexual harassment, discrimination and cover-ups, or through trolling, gossip and harassment.

Those are acts that tie directly into the whole unintended consequences morality thing The Good Place has going - what happens when you make sexualised comments about a new employee that leads to her transferring departments and losing her career momentum, her children not going to a better university, her health benefits getting cut, etc? What happens when your cruel comments about an up-and-coming TV actress' weight gain lead to her losing a role and trigger her eating disorder, then a suicide attempt? How much is your responsibility?

I'm also hoping that Simone turns out to not be just a good person. She's lovely, but a little less Good and more Medium would make her more interesting.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 11:05 PM on October 5 [7 favorites]


I'm wondering if maybe Brent, at least, isn't just a genuinely bad person. I'm surprised this hasn't occurred to our heroes, but maybe he should just be in hell? The points system is obviously broken, yes, but a stopped clock is still right twice a day.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:45 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


I'm wondering if maybe Brent, at least, isn't just a genuinely bad person. I'm surprised this hasn't occurred to our heroes, but maybe he should just be in hell?

I heartily agree that Brent sucks, but does he "eternity of penis bees" suck? Maybe he...belongs in a medium place....until he improves enough to get into the good place...oh damn, we're reinventing purgatory.
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:47 AM on October 6 [5 favorites]


Brent Kavanaugh 100% deserves an eternity of penis bees.
posted by stet at 9:46 AM on October 6 [12 favorites]


I'm not convinced Brent is missing his buddies for particularly touching reasons. Sure, he has noticed that the other people here are not his usual crowd, and that must be disconcerting, because he's deeply invested in the idea that his usual crowd is superior to anyone else. To maintain this belief in their shared superiority, their absence must signify the existence of an even better place. I think this is more of an ontological rather than a sentimental issue for him.

Of course he's not enjoying his current company. They may smile politely at this jokes, but I bet his buddies actually laughed. The whole vibe of the place so far has just been too egalitarian. What's the fun in bullying Janet, if you don't have an audience who appreciates that kind of thing?
posted by sohalt at 1:03 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


Brent is a narcissist. As such, he does not think of his friends or any of the people in his life as autonomous individuals. They are merely extensions of himself, whose entire existence is to the purpose of meeting his considerable and unending needs. Whether they're dead or not is irrelevant because to him they were never really alive in the first place.
posted by wabbittwax at 3:00 PM on October 6 [12 favorites]


Brent is a narcissist. As such, he does not think of his friends or any of the people in his life as autonomous individuals. They are merely extensions of himself, whose entire existence is to the purpose of meeting his considerable and unending needs.

I'm betting that if we ever meet any of his friends, they'll turn out to be a bunch of sycophants who work for him (or for his clients) and only hang out with him for their careers.
posted by Etrigan at 10:39 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


The ice cream on the nose was a highly cute "I refute it thus". Not logically sound, but enough of a jolt to get Simone to rethink her solipsism. I think the only way to finally convince her will be to make the point that she had no way of proving that her previous life was actually real either.

I've got a few ideas about the Best Place for Brent...
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 4:12 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


And the thing of it is, if Brent is just afflicted with a personality disorder -- if, as infuriating as he is, it's not exactly his fault he's an asshole, and no amount of punishment will get him to change his ways because he's fundamentally incapable of seeing himself as at fault (trust me, you will never get a narcissist to see themselves as the guilty party in anything) -- this introduces a raft of complications that strain the metaphor of the show severely. Like: if the characters are all effectively spirits who only appear to be in material form, then why aren't failings of the flesh eliminated when they pass on to the next world? Wouldn't a personality disorder go away as surely as a limp would? If you're a narcissist, are you a narcissist all the way down to the level of your very soul? It seems unlikely. Is narcissism a choice? You know. I'm not sure the show is built to address these questions, but I'm wondering about them now.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:21 PM on October 7 [5 favorites]


Well, I suppose that if Eleanor can be in need of a shower, that all downsides of physicality are up for grabs, short of death.
People still wear glasses, etc, right?
posted by Acari at 6:15 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


The rules of the afterlife appear to be flexible to the whim of the punchline
posted by wabbittwax at 10:24 AM on October 8 [7 favorites]


this introduces a raft of complications that strain the metaphor of the show severely. Like: if the characters are all effectively spirits who only appear to be in material form, then why aren't failings of the flesh eliminated when they pass on to the next world?

We talked about this early on when it initially appeared that Chidi was sent to The Bad Place for crippling anxiety, essentially. It was concerning at first, but with the revelation that the point system itself is extremely flawed, it's no longer as concerning to me. Knowing that no one gets into the Good Place, it's not that Chidi's anxiety and apparent selfishness that arise from the anxiety (though I wouldn't characterize his mental illness in that way, the show appeared to briefly) sent him to the Bad Place. It's that he didn't acquire enough points to make the Good Place. Just as literally no one else did.

Before our characters knew that no one was getting into the Good Place, it was certainly rationalized as Chidi's selfishness, but I think it's just as likely that Chidi is a drastically better person than Tahani, Eleanor, or Jason, but their collective understanding of the system at that time, Michael & Janet included, didn't allow them to see that.

There's also the point that in the show's conceit, these folks are set up to be tortured for eternity. Perhaps those in the Good Place get the corrected vision and are healed from stomach ailments and so on. But for those in the Bad Place, why wouldn't you want them to experience the worst parts of their humanity as part of the torture?
posted by terilou at 2:06 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]


See, I still think this show is unfair to Tahani. She really did spend all her life trying to raise money for charity -- compare to Mindy (who earned just enough points, somehow, to get to the medium place?) who did nothing but cocaine then planned to donate a lot of money, then died. (I'm trying to remember the exact timeline for her and can't.)

There were lots of ways for Tahani to try to one-up her sister (who was not, as far as I can tell, altruistic in any way, just a genius artist/singer/etc), but she chose to do it by raising lots and lots of money for charity. Sure, she was very snobby, but was she drastically worse than Chidi? I don't think so.
posted by jeather at 2:19 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


I think Tahani compared to Mindy is intended to illustrate the chaotic nature of the points system. Mindy got to the Medium Place on a fluke of math, basically.
posted by annathea at 3:53 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


Yes, Mindy got a slew of points for putting her massive charity plan into place, then died instantly before the law of unintended interconnected consequences kicked in and depleted her new-found points. Even with that, she only broke even.

I don't think this show would go in this direction, but during Michael's speech where he says Eleanor is the only one who can save humanity it definitely felt like a setup for literally everything up to this point being a fabrication that every person goes through in the afterlife, over and over, until they are ready to move forward. "You fail a thousand times and you keep trying..."

Still wondering about the Janet-switch. Since they can make anything up I suppose the real Janet could be in some sort of Janet Jail where she can maintain the neighborhood but not escape or communicate.
posted by mikepop at 6:35 AM on October 10


I think it's just weird how the points are all about what you did, and not what you intended, but Tahani, who I gather legitimately did good by raising money for charity, is bad because she didn't intend it for as perfect a reason as could be imagined. I don't really think Mindy making it into the medium place makes all that much sense, but I'll sort of handwave it by: saying that of the four main humans, Chidi is a much better person than the other three is a really weird reading of the backstory.
posted by jeather at 6:45 AM on October 10


I get really uncomfortable with the idea that being good means valuing your friends and family - it's the sort of thinking that I associate with Evangelical christianity - that being good is being good to 'your people'. The Good Place has generally been about caring about people outside of the norm of the social contract -

IDK if "valuing friends and family" was meant in a super literal way by the commenter before? Because this is a show that's 100% about the value of relationships - the core four become good because they build relationships with one another and come to rely on each other - so anyone who is a Good Person according to the show would think it's a shit heaven for being devoid of the people they love.

And to someone else's point about someone in their 30s not knowing a lot of people who have died, that's what's bothered me about this show since it began. A fake Good Place would surely be populated with mostly very old people in order to be convincing?? But there's literally nobody over the age of 50 or so (except for Michael and that lady who turned out to be shirtless demon dude). WTF, show.
posted by MiraK at 9:17 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


Because this is a show that's 100% about the value of relationships - the core four become good because they build relationships with one another and come to rely on each other - so anyone who is a Good Person according to the show would think it's a shit heaven for being devoid of the people they love.

Right, but it's also definitely about caring about people you don't have a relationship with - though you might have a relationship with them in the future. What we Owe to Each Other isn't just about what we owe to our friends, it's about what we owe to people we don't know, may never benefit from, and may never get to know. Hell, Eleanor and Chidi are good people because they're sacrificing their relationship for the benefit of people they're never likely to meet.

In as much as you can ask 'how can you be happy when the people you love are suffering', and you're supposed to value everyone, you end up in the answer 'how can you be happy when there is suffering'.

Though that just leads to evangelist philosophy in a different way (though one big part of What We Owe to Each other is acknowledgement of other people as rational agents, which would require them to be responsible for their own choices).
posted by dinty_moore at 10:09 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


A fake Good Place would surely be populated with mostly very old people in order to be convincing?? But there's literally nobody over the age of 50 or so (except for Michael and that lady who turned out to be shirtless demon dude).

Remember that the whole point of Neighborhood 12358W "The Good Place" was that at least some of the people in it knew they weren't really supposed to be there. Super-good, super-successful people in old age wouldn't have been nearly as aggravating to Eleanor or Tahani as super-good, super-successful people around their own age.
posted by Etrigan at 10:16 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


Jason is still wildly impulsive but is more self-reflective and respects advice on his crazy ideas.

"Mostly judges." tickled me greatly.
posted by phearlez at 1:57 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


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