The Good Place: Patty
January 23, 2020 6:08 PM - Season 4, Episode 12 - Subscribe

The group makes some new friends.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (121 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
So, the Good Place really is the friends we made along the way.
posted by cheshyre at 6:24 PM on January 23 [15 favorites]

I was kinda hoping they'd run into Diogenes... now he'd make for GREAT television.
posted by sugar and confetti at 6:42 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]

That kind of felt like a let down? I loved that the good place was its own version of hell but I thought maybe the door would reincarnate them on earth instead of a forever of nothing.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 7:18 PM on January 23 [10 favorites]

I'm not sure what they're going to do for 90 minutes next week, but I do hope they have one last "chuck it all out and start over." It's only fitting.
posted by tzikeh at 7:18 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]

Oh man not to abuse the edit window - the finale's title (Whenever You're Ready) feels a bit darker now....
posted by tzikeh at 7:19 PM on January 23 [28 favorites]

I was kinda hoping they’d run into Epicurus... as played by George Carlin, but I guess I’ll have to wait for my turn to go through the Green Doors to see that happen.
posted by pjsky at 7:47 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]

Nice to see Lisa Kudrow as Hypatia.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:53 PM on January 23 [13 favorites]

... I thought that was the finale and it was lovely and teared up a bit at the way they solved things. Now I'm very discombobulated and don't know what there is left to do except send Michael through the door?
posted by ChuraChura at 8:39 PM on January 23 [11 favorites]

Well that was unexpected.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:50 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]

I thought the neoplatonic joke was actually pretty funny, and I liked those robes Michael had!
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 9:14 PM on January 23 [14 favorites]

I always thought the vague depiction of heaven in the Xian religion does seem boring. But I would like the "energy of a 12 y.o." forever.
I thought the solution would be letting people reincarnate, though technically they're at the highest plane. (And this would jibe with my wish that our gang ends up on earth, only somewhat different.) But they've (ahem) left the door open to go in a very different direction.

Also- IIRC this wasn't the first jab they've taken at anti-vaxxers. Poor 2500 BC guy who died from a small cut (tetanus?) wants to know WHY WOULDN'T YOU GET VACCINATIONS?!
posted by NorthernLite at 10:27 PM on January 23 [12 favorites]

Part of me was definitely hoping they'd get to the actual Good Place and it'd be filled with aliens.
posted by sugar and confetti at 1:47 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

I love that the bowl of candy that gives you the energy of a 12-year-old was the much-maligned (American) Smarties. I’ve never heard a nice thing said about them but they’re my faves.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 2:18 AM on January 24 [11 favorites]

Maybe reincarnation is through the doors, maybe everyone who steps through starts their own universe, or maybe they forget everything and become immortal beings who manage existence as Architects, Judges, and Doorpersons. Or Janets, uh...Derek!
posted by Ignorantsavage at 3:40 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

It was a little rushed but I would have been satisfied if this was the end. Excited to see what the real ending is!
posted by yellowbinder at 4:45 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

I'm away to watch the very first episode again. I suspect we're heading into Jeremey Bearing territory. Last line guess? A big sign that says "everything is fine" and "Hi, Eleanor, come on in"
posted by ewan at 5:45 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

We haven't explicitly acknowledged it on here, but how wild is it that this show introduced voluntary euthanasia as the compassionate answer to a fallen heaven?
posted by sugar and confetti at 5:51 AM on January 24 [50 favorites]

From the way they described the concept, it sounds like what's on the other side of the new door is obliteration. But, then again, they admitted they didn't exactly know what was there, which seems odd considering it was the team's idea.

So, what could be left? Loss of ego and becoming one with the universe? Reincarnation? A meet-and-greet with the creator(s)? I kind of doubt they'll go so far as to actually depict a god of any sort, opting to stay more-or-less neutral on that subject.

But...Y'know how, in this episode, they really played-up the idea of "you can have anything you want"? Well, maybe what's through the new door is the one thing you deep, deep, deep down in the core of your soul you want (need?) but never realized it? The one thing that brings you complete peace/joy/contentment?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:55 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

I also thought it funny that the design and architecture of the real Good Place was far more "corporate campus" as opposed to Michael's "home town" idea of the Good Place.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:58 AM on January 24 [11 favorites]

What's weird about this heaven is it's basically a village too...just a small group of people. You can use the doors to visit times/places but what about the rest of this infinite heaven? Other villages?
posted by emjaybee at 6:01 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

Anybody else watch this episode with a growing feeling of dread in the pit of their stomach? Part of me was worried that the whole "y'all got into the Good Place" thing was a set-up, and in a way, it was. Also, that note on the whiteboard about waiting until Beyoncé died and having her fix it all made me chuckle, and then it made me sad. The committee has long struck me as a subtle or sometimes not so subtle jab at progressives whose political action extends only so far as writing stern letters or using a canvas tote bag, so seeing a suggestion that they just wait for a black woman to fix it all really felt... oof. I don't know. Maybe I'm overanalyzing. (It's what I do, I'm a social sciences major 4 months away from finishing my undergrad, overanalyzing is literally my job right now)
posted by palomar at 6:02 AM on January 24 [34 favorites]

...just a small group of people. You can use the doors to visit times/places but what about the rest of this infinite heaven? Other villages?

Given the restrictive nature of the rules that were in place, it's highly possible that these people are the entirety of humans that have made it into the Good Place so far.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:03 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]

What happens after the afterlife?
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:05 AM on January 24

And where did the former Good Place committee members go anyway?
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:07 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]

And where did the former Good Place committee members go anyway?

posted by Thorzdad at 7:23 AM on January 24 [18 favorites]

I have never shared this story with anyone before, because I never met anyone I thought I could tell it to that wouldn't think I was completely insane. After watching this episode I think I could tell it to Mike Shur and he would understand, but I'm a nobody that is never going to meet Mike Shur, so I'm going to share it here, and hope that maybe some of you will not think I'm nuts ... maybe?

During graduate school I went to work at an internship for 3 months during the summer and I was assigned to work with 2 different teams. One team was much larger than the other and was lead by a dynamic, compassionate, innovative young guy who treated everyone with respect and kindness. The other team was smaller and led by a much, much older guy who was a perpetually angry, misogynistic troll who reveled in spewing hateful, personal insults at various people. I was often singled out for extra heaps of scorn because I had the audacity to ask questions and one time I called him out on his mistreatment of others. So, basically, those 3 months were The Best of Times and The Worst of Times all at the same time. It was exhilarating and infuriating and inspiring and challenging and fulfilling and exhausting. So exhausting.

On a rare day off I decided to escape to a nearby park to read a book and enjoy some peace and quiet, and try to regain my equanimity. I rode my bike there and was physically exhausted by the time I arrived. The wind was blowing off the lake making the temperature much cooler than I expected so I decided to stretch out on the grass in a little gully to shield myself from the wind. The sun was warm, the ground was soft and I probably didn't read 2 pages of my book before I fell asleep. Although, I don't know if "fell asleep" is the right description. Anyway I was overcome with the sensation that my body had just spontaneously dissipated into a billion individual molecules and floated away on the breeze, or sunk down into the dirt, to become one with every other molecule in the universe. And it was the most beautiful, peaceful, calm, serene feeling I have ever experienced. And at the moment I became conscious of what I was experiencing, I remember thinking, "If this is what death is like, I'm ok with that. It's all going to be ok." And then I think I really did fall asleep.

Last night when Eleanor came up with the idea that anyone in The Good Place who was feeling "done" with being there could walk through the doors and that would be the end, well ... I immediately thought - "Oh, I know what happens if you walk through the door!"

I wish I could give Mike Shur and Megan Amram the biggest hugs. I just ... YOU GUYS ... I love you so much!
posted by pjsky at 7:30 AM on January 24 [89 favorites]

This was such a good way to close the show that I don't get why there is one episode left.

Also, this is exactly what I suspected would be the problem with heaven: no stakes, no reason to keep developing or not get bored. Maybe that's why reincarnation (theoretically) exists? Because people got bored in heaven?
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:38 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]

also thought it funny that the design and architecture of the real Good Place was far more "corporate campus" as opposed to Michael's "home town" idea of the Good Place.

That’s the Getty Center a giant art museum in Los Angeles, and probably the most valuable piece of real estate in LA. Definitely the best view, as it’s on top of a mountain overlooking Brentwood and all the west side and the ocean and Catalina Island etc etc etc. It’s where I’d put heaven.

Also it’s free, so some check it out.
posted by sideshow at 7:49 AM on January 24 [14 favorites]

This episode actually redeemed the good place committee a bit for me- of course they were so chill and acquiescent about literally everything anyone suggested! They were desperate for something to change and they were out of ideas.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 8:15 AM on January 24 [21 favorites]

This episode actually redeemed the good place committee a bit for me- of course they were so chill and acquiescent about literally everything anyone suggested! They were desperate for something to change and they were out of ideas.

Something that they mentioned on the podcast that I've never noticed is that the members of the GPC, expect for Paul Scheer, are different every time we see them, suggesting that they keep quitting is despair.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:41 AM on January 24 [12 favorites]

I also wondered if the GPC people were also impacted by the paradise boredom turning your brain to mush problem? Like maybe not as intensely as the humans but still with reduced capacity?
posted by overglow at 8:58 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]

This episode felt like it could have, or should have been a three episode arc. And I say that not just because I want more episodes (frankly, I think they could have squashed a bit of the earlier season's plots into fewer episodes). But it felt really rushed, only 2-3 minutes of "wow, heaven is great" before we get the turn and realize there's a big problem, and then they fix the problem that has been going basically since the dawn of humanity in another 2-3 minute of brainstorming, then bittersweet celebration of the new status quo. Felt pretty rushed and not really earned.

However, I like the fact that they at least take a shot at what is to me the most serious philosophical problem with any consideration of an eternal afterlife--mortality is such a fundamental component of human existence that to posit a truly infinite existence requires a radical transformation of what a person/mind/soul is, so that at some point it doesn't even really seem like the same person that existed on Earth. Human existence in inescapably linked to our mortality (the need for food, shelter, safety, etc.), and a person who lost those qualities would be a very, very different entity. What would that person value? Would things like fun, humor, or affection be meaningful to such a person? Oh, I'm rambling now.

An optional end-point changes the equation since the longer you go the more likely that at some point you'll feel like choosing the exit, so the Good Place is effectively unbounded but finite. That changes things a lot since a billion or trillion-year afterlife is much different from an eternal one.

I hope next week that the crew has spent at least a few hundred subjective years in the Good Place before they do whatever they're going to do. I think they'll decide that they need to incorporate some sort of sense of duty to help others into their ultimate design for the Good Place, so the afterlife will include a component where you work on bettering yourself, but also doing some work to help everyone else. I don't know that it makes a lot of sense, but you want to end with a positive message.
posted by skewed at 8:58 AM on January 24 [16 favorites]

I teared up when Eleanor made her proposal because I thought the new door was going to lead to Earth - and I was shocked and uncomfortable when the answer wasn't directly "reincarnation" ad infinitum, which is leading me to some self-reflection on why I so quickly and happily adopted reincarnation as my assumption of what happens after death when I was a middle schooler and never felt really challenged on it. I've ruminated on the HOW but never really on the WHY, because Einstein said energy can't be lost and I think there's a lot of religion in that science.

Anyway it was a good episode. I love the Getty Center garden and was a little bit pleased it was used for "heaven". I'm both excited to see what happens next week and dreading it.
posted by annathea at 9:07 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]

What happens after the afterlife?

Everything—Jeremy Bearimy, baby.
posted by thedward at 9:28 AM on January 24 [11 favorites]

On the podcast, they talk about what a get it was to film at the Getty Center.

The passport photo booth was great, as were the candy. But the recurring bit where Hypatia always has a fresh milkshake and then throws it away made me laugh so much I thought I would scare the cat.

(Still hoping for John, Brent, and Simone to show up in the finale.)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:28 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]

Anyone else see the Old Spice commercial that featured William Jackson Harper?
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:29 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]

Yes! That commercial was an unexpected delight for me, and then after the episode ended I had to track down the original "I'm the man your man could smell like" commercial because somehow it turns out that I am seriously romantically partnered to a person who had never seen it.

(I'm on a horse)
posted by Vibrissa at 9:43 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]

The Good Place being the Getty Center made this family of Angelenos laugh repeatedly. We've been to the Good Place. We've been there repeatedly! Is that...what we have to look forward to? An eternity in the Getty Center?
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:17 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]

“It’s Coachella! We’ve invented cosmic Coachella!”
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:25 AM on January 24 [25 favorites]

“It’s Coachella!

That was where I literally LOL’d. Hilarious.
God, I’m going to miss this show.
posted by Superplin at 10:57 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

I'm going to miss these characters so much. Their tenderness and camaraderie just hits me right where I live.
posted by merriment at 11:48 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]

This was great but ending with essentially a version of "vacation then annihilationism" does not sit right with me.

The last episode has to be about reincarnation. The crew spent a few hundred years happy and now are bored and the only place to go is to live another life on Earth. I can't imagine any other logical outcome going from here.
posted by KTamas at 12:18 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]

Also the final montage is 5 minutes of them living their lives again and again and finding each other in different ways again and again and no you're crying
posted by KTamas at 12:46 PM on January 24 [13 favorites]

So like the end of What Dreams May Come, then?

I admit I never liked the idea of reincarnation because I can only assume the idea of coming back sounds fun if you are bored out of your goddamned mind in heaven. Then you get back here and eventually are all, "What the hell was I thinking?!"
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:25 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]

So Michael becomes head of the Good Place, and Team Cockroach hangs out for a few hundred years and then gets reincarnated and/or goes to help others improve, but what happens to Janet?
posted by bassooner at 1:44 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]

Isn't it obvious? Janet ascends to god status.
posted by palomar at 1:49 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]

Janet obviously reincarnates into a real human being and gets explore being human and then become Jason's Girl ("not a g— actually, yes a girl!")
posted by KTamas at 1:53 PM on January 24 [13 favorites]

I think it is totally ok to want to just peacefully cease to be at some point. But I'm not yet convinced that is what is really behind that door.
posted by emjaybee at 2:25 PM on January 24 [7 favorites]

I don’t really understand how Purgatory/Points System 2.0 works with existing damned souls... but it was very jarring for me to be reminded in this episode that almost everyone is in the Bad Place, and the Soul Squad fixed the Good Place without mentioning that.
posted by Monochrome at 3:31 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]

it was very jarring for me to be reminded in this episode that almost everyone is in the Bad Place, and the Soul Squad fixed the Good Place without mentioning that.

I was under the impression that, due to Jeremy Bearimy, everyone who had ever gone to the Bad Place was being reappraised in the new afterlife, while Patty etc. had been grandfathered into staying in the Good Place.
posted by Etrigan at 3:43 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]

I was glad they addressed one of my personal problems with the idea of heaven: it sounds like it would get REALLY boring. But they haven't addressed the other problem: how can anyone possibly be happy in the afterlife knowing that everyone else they knew and cared about is being tortured for all eternity?

I guess that's not true any more under the new points system, but the inhabitants of the Good Place haven't obviously been filled in on the new system yet.
posted by simonw at 4:20 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]

For many years, my answer to "eternity would be boring" was "not if you had an ordinary, limited human memory."

They kind of shot that idea out of the sky, with Chidi's objection to mind wipes. But I'm glad they at least acknowledged the possibility.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:23 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]

Tahani's final line of "I'll see you tomorrow....and all the tomorrows after that" sounded a bit ominous.

On the other hand we got to see stoned Michael which was fantastic.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:25 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]

Nice to see Lisa Kudrow as Hypatia.

“Are you gonna sit there and say that every single Friend belongs in hell? I mean, maybe Ross and Rachel, and Monica and Joey, and definitely Chandler but Phoebe?”
posted by nathan_teske at 5:25 PM on January 24 [44 favorites]

So it's now show canon that everyone who ever lived has spent eternity in misery either through the explicit torture of the bad place or the more insidious torture in the good place.
posted by roolya_boolya at 5:30 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]

Except Mindy St. Clair.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:41 PM on January 24 [15 favorites]

Mindy gets the exquisite pleasure of Cannonball Run 2.
posted by sugar and confetti at 8:43 PM on January 24 [15 favorites]

Eleanor asks that we not judge her for her excitement over the bedpan with which Stone Cold Steve Austin hit Vince McMahon.

I'm sorry, Eleanor, but I remember that bit and even by the standards of professional wrestling and the even lower standards of professional wrestling in the "Attitude Era" it was fairly low brow. Judged.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:05 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]

Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.
posted by hijinx at 10:34 PM on January 24 [11 favorites]

I'll be happy with any ending as long as the show doesn't end with Tommy Westphall shaking a snow globe.
posted by Pendragon at 1:50 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]

i don’t like it.

first, the “death gives life meaning” trope is trash. death is a waste and a disaster. death doesn’t give meaning. death ruins meaning. death ruins everything. “death gives life meaning” is the epistemological manifestation of stockholm syndrome.

second, the “prosperity and love and joy gets boring” trope is likewise not good. hard veto to seeing something so lazy show up in a show that has heretofore carefully avoided the lazy takes on the serious matters it explores.

but okay more importantly, the version of the good place presented here is wrong in a way that jars with the thesis of the show so far, and moreover wrong in a way that is not addressed by the addition of an obliteration door. the criterion for getting into the good place, the thing that team cockroach has spent four seasons and countless bearimies learning is that goodness and satisfaction comes through establishing and nurturing interpersonal relationships, interpersonal relationships that allow people to help each other prosper and be healthy and grow.

the good place as presented in this episode would be deeply unsatisfactory — immediately deeply unsatisfactory — to anyone who actually meets the criteria for getting in. it is a solipsistic place focused on individual pleasures rather than mutual love.

anyone who could get in would be clawing at the walls trying to get out. instead of “enjoying” the individual pleasures of fake heaven, they’d want to go, well, do the things that team cockroach has been doing since season 2. they’d want to go back to earth to save souls. they’d want to go back to earth to try to repair this busted place. like team cockroach, they’d go to hell and then harrow the fork out of the place.

the “solution” offered by this episode drops all the important balls. for example: when michael swiped the book of dougs, we found out that people stopped getting into the good place precisely when european colonialism started up — precisely when a global order was established that makes it impossible to actually have a positive impact on the world, since that global order perverts any potentially positive action toward its own ends. the redesign of hell implemented in the last episode doesn’t address that, and the redesign of heaven implemented in this one doesn’t address it either. the world remains broken.

folx i’m a little bit shaken up by where they’re going. it’s the first time i’ve lost faith in the showrunners. perhaps the line of reasoning they’re deploying here is a fakeout, perhaps “hell is now purgatory, heaven is now oblivion’s waiting room, and fixing earth is irrelevant because earth’s just the first stage of hell” isn’t where they’re going, and perhaps this episode is the darkness before the dawn. but maybe not.

here is my contingency plan for if the last episode sucks: i am going to willfully pretend that the sucky ending doesn’t exist, and replace it in my memory with my headcanon ending.

in my headcanon ending, this episode starts with team cockroach’s balloon landing not in l.a. but instead in a small californian beach town where it’s always the 1980s. no one ever gets bored and no one ever dies and everyone loves each other. they spend eternity talking about philosophy and celebrities and the jacksonville jaguars and molotov cocktails and about exactly what every celebrity has ever done ever and about fashion and about stone cold steve austin and about shrimp. they hatch and implement schemes to get more people on earth to [pick your favorite name: the good place, san junipero, heaven] faster, and to make earth itself a little good place instead of a little hell.

every so often chidi and yorkie give eleanor and kelly hall passes to go hook up with each other at the quagmire because you know they would.

i mean i hope i don’t have to deploy this “erase the show ending, replace it with my headcanon” strategy, but i’m prepared. if i have to, i will.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:51 AM on January 25 [18 favorites]

I share those concerns.

Beyond that, this is starting to feel eerily similar to LOST. Everyone makes a special magical place for themselves to meet up, and when they’re ready to move on, they decide to do so together and then the whole thing ends (the show and existence).

More than moderate concerns going into the finale.
posted by hijinx at 8:58 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]

I liked this episode and the last one all right, but it feels like they're rushing.
posted by kyrademon at 9:01 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]

> I liked this episode and the last one all right, but it feels like they're rushing

i mean the last two episodes are fine as sitcom episodes but this show has the potential to be a lot more than just a sitcom and i’ll be sad if that’s the direction they decide to take it.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:07 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]

I didn’t expect tv show people to explain life, its meaning and purpose, and yet, I’m still disappointed by the wrapping up of this show. And that’s on me, I guess. But, damn. Chidi and Eleanor look to be in a Cialis ad at the end there.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 9:11 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]

I've always thought that eternal life is a dire curse, not a reward for a life well lived. YMMV
posted by some loser at 9:18 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]

I have faith in Mike Shur & Co to bring the show to a satisfying conclusion. I personally think the whole premise that there is a Good Place and Bad Place that exists after Death is ridiculous. I think reincarnation is probably ridiculous too. But maybe not. I don't know. And neither does anybody else. I am hopeful that while we're living we have moments of clarity that help us realize that we are perpetually wandering in and out of our very own Good and Bad Places and that the way to spend more time in our "Good Place" is to be kind and caring and create ever more connections to other humans that we can be kind and caring with. What we know for sure is, that ultimately, we will all cease to exist. Right now we are individually glorious and idiosyncratic star-filled fart bags. Maybe when we die we experience a timelessness that exists without sorrow or regret and it has no distinguishable features from being worm food and grass fertilizer. We don't know. So do what you can, where you are, with what you have. Be good now. Be kind now. Be here now.
posted by pjsky at 9:30 AM on January 25 [10 favorites]

Metafilter: individually glorious and idiosyncratic star-filled fart bags.

Now that I've said that.... I think the issue with heaven is that there were no stakes. No reason to improve or strive. It's not necessarily that it has to be death, but there needs to be SOMETHING that still motivates a human for their brain to not go mush. There needs to be a challenge. In this case, they put in "death" (or whatever the magic door is) as something to rub against the idea of perfection and boredom. Alternately, "hey, who wants to reincarnate and go back and fix Earth" would be another potential option, which might be what they do in the finale.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:56 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]

If anyone enjoyed this, I highly recommend Tuck Everlasting, which is a children's book in theory but repays adult reading.

I thought this was the finale, too, and was perfectly satisfied. Not sure if I want to see the next one.
posted by wnissen at 10:07 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]

I think the issue with heaven is that there were no stakes.

Yes, this! If there are no consequences, no challenges, no reason to do things, of course eternal existence is boring as fuck. Even love gets boring if nothing changes.

One of the other flaws I saw in The Good Place (not the show but the place) was that you could have anything you asked for -- but one of the greatest joys in life is surprise. How do you get surprised if all the system can provide is things you request?

I want new experiences, not just the ones I already know about. Novelty is a fundamental element of many types of pleasure and joy--can The Good Place provide novelty?

I listened to this week's podcast this morning, and it does sound like we'll get more development or explanation of the entire system.

Me, I'm kind of wondering what happened to God. I guess there isn't one in this system?
posted by suelac at 12:05 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]

My favorite line was when our Janet complained about how the other Janet said "Hi there!".

How can the show end without the four having seen Michael's true form? I want to see the reaction shots.
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:13 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]

> How do you get surprised if all the system can provide is things you request?

because there’s other people there? smart good people who are full of surprises? an eternity of surprises?

and like i’m going to keep chewing at this until we see the last episode and what they do with the 90 minutes or whatever they have left, but uhh my takeaway from the “good place people turn into brain mush” plot point is that the writers have abandoned the deep love and respect for humanity that seems to have driven the show up to this point.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:46 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]

Is that last episode really 90 minutes? Or is it a 30-minute episode followed by a Seth Myers special? I see it listed online as 8:30-10p, but it's followed by Law & Order.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:51 PM on January 25

According to the podcast the finale will be slightly over an hour, and then the Seth Meyers special will round out the 90 minutes.
posted by Gary at 2:53 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]

I'm assuming the solution will be spending your time in The Good Place to help others get to The Good Place. "What we owe to each other" is a big part of this show. Of course a completely selfish (after)life is going to be unfulfilling. The requirements to get into The Good Place were so high that everyone there should have figured it out by now.

I'm not happy with the obliteration door as the solution to anything, but there's still an episode left to go.
posted by Gary at 3:15 PM on January 25 [9 favorites]

If the finale ends with a sequence skipping forward through billions of years, showing the moment each member of Team Cockroach decides its time to step through the door and saying goodbye to their remaining friends just before they do, then I too will be dead from having forcefully ejected every particle of moisture in my body out through my tear ducts
posted by ejs at 4:11 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]

If the finale ends with a sequence skipping forward through billions of years, showing the moment each member of Team Cockroach decides its time to step through the door and saying goodbye to their remaining friends just before they do

The entire episode will be the montage at the end of Six Feet Under, but literally a million times longer?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:27 PM on January 25 [8 favorites]

If the Good Place sucks because of the limitations of the human mind an alternative solution would be to remove the limitations.
posted by thedward at 5:16 PM on January 25 [9 favorites]

I liked a lot about this episode but it would have been terrible as a finale. We got to the end and I was like, "wait, I didn't get confused, there's still one more, this isn't how it ends.... right???"
posted by escabeche at 7:07 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]

For a number of episodes now my wife and I have been discussing whether the last reveal (or next-to-last) is going to be that the whole exercise was a test/growing opportunity for Michael, and everyone else was in on the secret, including Team Cockroach. I'm not so sure anymore, because of the weirdness of this week's episode.

Also, count me in on nope for annihilationism. I expected reincarnation, which would have been a safe choice but ok. "Death makes life worth living" is a shitty trope.
posted by kandinski at 9:06 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Jason made a reference to his "smooth brain."

Can anyone track down the earliest known usage?

My first encounter with that was as an insult by metafilter's entropicamericana around Aug 6, 2019 - almost certainly in a uspolitics thread and I messaged them how much I liked the insult, but did not get a response.

The "smooth brain" thing is probably about the gyrification of the human brain.
posted by porpoise at 9:14 PM on January 25

But yeah, I'm ready for a disappointment - but knowing the trajectory of the show, I'm hoping that it's a diversion, a slight of hand.

otoh, far too much to expect from a TV show to be 'revelatory' or something.

My respect for the show for holding it together so far, but neo-reincarnation, boring eternity, and oblivion as reward are all consistent with my worldview so interested to see what the final last 90 minutes of this show over 3 episodes is going to be about.

fwiw, my idea of The Good Place is to become part of the physical universe and to be part of the perfect (non-human, of course) understanding of what was, what is, and what will be of the physical universe. The grand understanding without the limitation of time.

Free from the pain of mortal existence, of course, but I'd trade physical pleasure/ wellness/ stimuli for perfect understanding.

Barring all that, oblivion - which I expect (and hope for) - is fine and good.

If I had to be "that guy" - the Good Place would be knowing that you left the world a Better Place while you were there, the Bad Place included.
posted by porpoise at 9:26 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]

How can the show end without the four having seen Michael's true form? I want to see the reaction shots.

Earlier this season when Michael, Jason, and Janet were riding in the desert on the handcart, returning from the Bad Place, Michael had a perfect opportunity to reveal his true form to Jason, and you just know he did it. Even if the writers were too lazy to show the scene.

At least, that's my headcanon and I'm sticking to it, LALALALALA.
posted by GSV The Structure of Our Preferred Counterfactuals at 12:40 AM on January 26

I mean, part of my reluctance to start watching this show was that I'm an atheist who thinks that death is oblivion, no Next at all. I was worried about saccharine feel-good "lessons" for Eleanor and that philosophy as a topic would be Flanderised or put on a bus as soon as possible.

So Mike Schur and the team have done a great job of getting me to suspend my literal disbelief for the sake of the characters and the punny names of shops. If they don't come up with a satisfying answer to a question billions of people haven't come to a consensus on yet, that's not their fault.

I'll be happy if Team Cockroach gets genuinely satisfying endings to their stories. Bonus points for a laugh out loud joke or two, because it's hard to fit those in to a final chapter.
posted by harriet vane at 3:14 AM on January 26 [11 favorites]

For this episode I loved the dig at anti-vaxxers and the gag about Twin Peaks. I loved that Janet was peeved by the basic-model Good Janet's. I loved Lisa Kudrow.

I don't think you're overthinking the Beyoncé bit, palomar. I said "hah" when I saw it because I have Feelings about how Beyoncé is perceived. You connecting that to the committee's style being a comment on nice well-meaning progressives waiting for a magical black lady to tell them what to do gives a sharper edge to that for me. If the writers *didn't* mean that, they missed a trick for sure.
posted by harriet vane at 3:28 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]

I liked this and I'm fairly neutral on where it's all going. At a certain point last season -- it was probably the IHOP -- I realized the show is essentially a Douglas Adams story, and those aren't really about space or aliens at all. The Good Place is a metaphor for modern life, particularly American life, with its social stratifications and its spineless centrists and its Brents and its trashbags. Since they have to wrap the show up, the show's increasingly become about solving the problems implicit in its own mythology, but the mythology has never really been the point of the show. I would have been okay with Chidi and Eleanor's Final Fate just as the two of them Netflix and chilling for the rest of eternity.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:43 AM on January 26 [10 favorites]

I should also say my favorite thing in the episode is what, yes, on a narrative level feels like cheating, a little -- to wit, the Good Place committee turning the whole mess over to Michael and running for the hills. This feels...incredibly right to me. Not for the show, per se; as an illustration of how so very many things work in real life.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:55 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]

The twelve-year-old was not buying being bored in eternity. Every time there was some dialogue related to the boredom of the Good Place she started muttering things you could do. She just did not get that eternity is a long time to be learning, reading, exploring the universe, etc. I, on the other hand, kept thinking about Zardoz during those scenes. Also, that whole Singularity thing is looking like a drag.
posted by jadepearl at 7:03 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]

So, there's a thing in marketing where you have a hierarchy like so:

Commodity (coffee bean)
Product (coffee in a bag at a supermarket)
Experience (coffee in your neighborhood café)
Transformation (really, really good coffee in a really, really nice coffee shop that makes you quit your job and join the peace corp or something)

The Good Place is hovering between experience and transformation for me, I'm pretty confident they'll move all the way up in the finale.
posted by signal at 8:29 AM on January 26 [5 favorites]

I'm not sure when "smooth brained" as an insult goes back to, but I'd guess at least whenever Flowers for Algernon was being taught in middle schools.
posted by fings at 8:37 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]

porpoise: "smooth brained" was definitely a joke on Brooklyn 99 a few years back, so it's already appeared in the Schurniverse, and then it didn't strike me as new.

Also, a google books N-gram search for "smooth-brained" shows a lot of past use.
posted by silentbicycle at 11:58 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]

I understand the disappointment at either neo-Buddhism or anihilationism as the "answer" on the show, but I also... like, I didn't expect a TV show (even one as good and thoughtful as this one) to come up with an entirely new philosophy about What Comes After Death and What Makes Life Worth Living. I won't be disappointed (too much) if those are what we get at the end. I've decided to refuse to expect better than that - so I'll either be satisfied or pleasantly surprised by the end (I hope).

Still thinking about the title of the finale.
posted by tzikeh at 12:01 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]

I thought of Grant Morison's The Invisibles, when smooth brained was mentioned: Two things we will make you; smooth between the legs and smooth between the ears...

Honestly there's a lot of weird parallels... there's a whole speech from the headmaster of Harmony House, with the line "We are here to teach you how to put the needs of others before your own selfish concerns."

Which is kinda dark but kinda works?

Anyway, it seems wrong to me to take the people who are the best, the most good, and to permanently remove them from existence, stupefy them and give them no way to pass on their wisdom and light, no way to do good in any meaningful sense, only the possibility of finding oblivion.

Also michael was a demon from most of existence, why didn't he read the fucking contract?
posted by gryftir at 5:39 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]

I'm assuming the solution will be spending your time in The Good Place to help others get to The Good Place. "What we owe to each other" is a big part of this show.

Yes! With Team Cockroach still having their essential natures and finding and helping each other after mind wipes, I think maybe it's heading towards the option of voluntary mind wipes and reincarnation when people get bored of paradise, to go back to Earth to help others get in.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:50 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]

second, the “prosperity and love and joy gets boring” trope is likewise not good.

yeah they aren't creative in the happiness direction and never have been.

for example: a shitty cocktail party in a really ugly interior location with a random assortment of people who haven't any of them made friends with each other in several thousand years is, yes, a place you would eventually kill yourself to get out of. but this isn't anybody's self-run heaven! sure, some people have nothing in their heads but a bunch of targeted instagram ads, but this repeated insistence that nobody has anything more than that in them is a show of contempt for the human race. and for once, the lousy human race doesn't deserve it. most of us are very bad, but many of us are actually not this boring.

yes, it would be a shock to find out that there's no god and nobody is going to show you anything beautiful or wonderful or new in paradise, you have to imagine and ask for all of it yourself, all it is is your own head turned inside out so you can look at it. that would be an enormous let-down. but it would also be a huge challenge, which would keep your mind fresh and working hard, not dulled by empty pleasures.

and the reason nobody has mentioned whether you can get pregnant in heaven, supposing that's what you really want, is presumably because E&C are the first couple to hook up in all of eternity and they don't want to. but like. of all the good people who have ever died, SOMEONE is going to want a family. if you can get a live cat out of a Janet, why not a baby? surely this is not allowed. but everything is allowed. how could they possibly never mention this?

but again, it's all summed up by the the Brent thing (was his name Brent? who remembers). nobody but him loves or misses any earthly friends or family, nobody wonders where their husbands or sisters or mothers are, nobody in heaven or hell has any friends, except these randomly selected dipshits. and nobody ever mentions it or thinks it strange.

point being, there may or may not be an eternity's worth of interest in a given human brain, but there's so much more than the show wants to bother with.

anyway there is a really good way to end on a high note, which is to admit that Simone was right about what was happening, obviously right, like Aleister Crowley and others before her. if they had the balls to bring in suicide as the right and proper end to a long human life, maybe they'll pull off a good old-fashioned Flatliners ending and I'll forgive and forget.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:54 PM on January 26 [7 favorites]

Also michael was a demon from most of existence, why didn't he read the fucking contract?

Duh. Reading is for dweebs, you freaking turdmonster /badjanet
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:00 PM on January 26 [7 favorites]

On pre-preview, the following might come across poorly but I mean no disparagement or insult or disrespect, just that I'm coming from a different place. I am not Buddhist and what I know of it comes from experience from practitioners of mostly Chinese Buddhism and some scholastic undergraduate instruction in a super white-bread Christian setting. If I was anything "official," I'm probably (non-specific)Christian-Toaist (from grandparents on both sides, as a fallout of colonialism) but chose to be atheist when I came into my age of reason. My dad was a true-believer Baptist right to the end, my mom was something protestant before converting to Catholicism late in life, I have Catholic relatives who are (locally prominant) Opus Dei.

'The Good Place' is predicate absolutely on Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam*).

Apologies if I'm oversimplifying/ incorrect, but I'm not sure anyone has explicitly mentioned that Buddhist reincarnation also includes gaining enough karma to leave the wheel of life and become one with everything.

As an aside, reincarnation (in some schools of thought) is an opportunity (ie., be born to a more privileged life, which reeks of Calvinism - not a necessary requirement, but makes virtue relatively easier to attain) to live more virtuously so that one might be reborn in a circumstance where it is possible to be even more virtuous (with less sacrifice), or to promote more virtue, in order to grind up to where one has the opportunity, position, and desire to do good/ alleviate suffering - in the hopes of shuffling off the reincarnation grind.

It strikes me that the concept of an "afterlife" in this show is extraordinarily lacking in imagination - that that afterlife is simply after life, but everything is still the same except you either get mortal-body wish fulfillment or mortal-body fearfillment (qv Michael admonishing demons on their lack of imagination - [paraphrased] "Someone is afraid of having their penis flattened, so you go flatten their penis. Again and again. For ever.").

Jianu/ Jason twigged this a lot in the first season for me, but Jianu actually being Jason kind of killed that train of thought. Still, a "silent humble Buddhist monk" being given enough points to enter the Good Place is kinda of skeevy - the choices that Jianu made are for very different reasons than why Doug Forcett behaved the way he did. I know the show addressed exactly why that's one reason why the Good Place is flawed, but reinforces the thesis that Abrahamic afterlife is philosophically and logically problematic - and not compatible with a lot of other established schools of thought.

The universe is Old, but still Young. Human experience is Limited, but we can conceive of the Unlimited.

Is the show's final thesis going to merely say that "humans** are just terribly unimaginative?"

If I was in the "real" the Good Place? Explore the universe through space and time - that should be enough, at least until the next cycle happens.

Yes, this is just a show on TV. It's a great show. It raises a lot of interesting questions. I like the show.

*(or perhaps it should be <big> - where does Islam fit in 'The xxx Place' universe? - perhaps muslims are in the same place as 'virtuous pagans' - was Hypatia historically rather Christian-ish and "the meek shall inherit the earth" type?)

**and Angels and Demons and celestial bureaucrats

posted by porpoise at 9:29 PM on January 26

I think a lot of you are assuming that the Afterlife we've been watching are created and managed by people who know what they're doing and are competent at understanding humans.

We've been shown again over and over that the entire system is broken. So why wouldn't the actual Good Place also be broken? Of course they designed it with shortsightedness and didn't understand that humans would eventually get bored and stupefied. Michael himself didn't understand morality as a principle until Eleanor explained the concept of death to him, who is an immortal being. The Afterlife was created by all immortal beings, designing a system that at first was handling only cave men. As humans evolved in the last millennium or so they couldn't create a system that could keep up with the changes, and the capacity for humans to quickly become satisfied with "do everything" in the Good Place was probably only recently realized; we have so much opportunities for experiences on Earth now, even a thousand years ago, that if residents of the Good Place could just copy it (assuming they can just watch life on Earth easily) all in a short amount of time and then be bored again. By the time their brain gets lethargic, it's too late to imagine new ideas or how to solve their issue, like Hypatia was describing.

What might even matter more, is why is there an Afterlife? Based on what Judge Gen has hinted at, they can restart the universe/life as many times as they want, and have a different system to handle the Afterlife. But this predicates on needing to have one for humans. And why these life forms on this planet? That's probably out-of-scope for the show's mythology, though, so I don't expect them to explore it.
posted by numaner at 12:36 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]

The truth is, these aren’t very bright guys, and things got out of hand.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 3:43 PM on January 27 [12 favorites]

This was a good concept episode and honestly should have been the idea for the whole 4th season. It would have been better than that test they wasted the first half on. Genius casting with Kudrow.
posted by dry white toast at 4:02 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]

This show has been accelerating through larger and larger chunks of time. In the space of a commercial break, they set up a series of neighborhoods. Am wondering if the show will jump straight into what lies beyond that final door, and start from there.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:35 AM on January 28

You go through the door and enter a small study with Bruce McGill, who tells you that now you're ready to do some important work...
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:25 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]

My theory for the end is that there will no longer be a Good Place/Bad Place and all the demons from both places work together in some capacity to form a new place. You have to have the good with the bad to make things meaningful.

Michael will decide to reincarnate into a human and then put Janet be in charge of all the "Places" (aka God Emperor Janet).

Also, I don't think the door is total obliteration, more like you become part of the universe or take on a new life/creature/plant/whatever, then you come back after you die with your new memories and your old ones restored.
posted by littlesq at 5:22 PM on January 28

This bit of the NYT interview with Mike Schur made me very happy:
... there have been jabs implied by, say, the spinelessness of the Good Place Committee.

That’s the most pointed we ever got. That’s just pure frustration with a certain kind of politician who holds the concept of fairness and making people on the opposite side of the aisle feel good above all else, including just the basic fight for what is right and good. So yeah, that is a bit of an ax-grinding exercise.
posted by palomar at 6:32 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]

Uhm.. Janet just left Derek and seems to have totally forgotten him?

This is sad making.

[I know I know the writers are juggling a lot of things, and Janet the character has had a lot to deal with but Derek and Mindy are dangling narrative threads / characters that I hope get some clear resolution]
posted by Faintdreams at 3:31 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]

Something's bothering me about the residents of The Good Place: they litter.

Patty just chucks her milkshakes away, usually before she's even finished them.

Likewise, there was the chap who made constant wasteful requests of a Janet.

The whole thing is a moral trap. It makes people worse.

I don't think the new door is the solution to this. I think there's a LOT more to be said about creating a better Good Place.

The show also has a 90 minute finale coming up! And they ended this episode with what, for any other show, would be a great ending - Chidi and Eleanor on their sofa together looking forward to spending almost-eternity together.

S2E2 reset the world 800 times in 22 minutes. The last episode of S1 featured the most notorious twist in US sitcom history.

I think the writers have something extraordinary planned for the finale. I don't think a door to oblivion is even remotely the end of this morality play.
posted by simonw at 6:09 AM on January 29 [5 favorites]

The whole thing is a moral trap. It makes people worse.

You could excuse the littering by calling it a side effect of having mush brains, but I agree—once you get to the Good Place, your points are no longer counted. You could use the infinite power granted to you by the GP to be the worst person imaginable for all eternity, and you'll never face punishment.

Hmmm... Or maybe you're recruited to be a demon in the Bad Place?
posted by ejs at 4:59 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]

I think the issue with heaven is that there were no stakes.

Yes, this! If there are no consequences, no challenges, no reason to do things, of course eternal existence is boring as fuck.

Since when do humans depend on other people to provide them with external stakes - let alone the very best of humans? Even our beloved Arizona dirtbag and Jacksonville dumpster fire MADE their own stakes. You think someone had to tell Jason to spray paint the Taco Bell logo on the turtle? Do you think Eleanor monetized her roommate's embarrassment with such ingenuity because someone else set her the challenge?

I mean. Why did Hypatia even exist on earth as a thinker and philosopher? Wasn't she rich enough and powerful enough to enjoy this very version of paradise on earth, if she wanted to? She intentionally rejected that on earth and made something useful of her time in life. Why does this show want to tell us that she, and every other good person, just ... threw away all that carefully cultivated ethic of work, duty, creativity, curiosity, kindness, and inquiry? For a milkshake?

I'm with everyone who's disappointed with the laziness of this episode's thesis. No, damn it, Hypatia wouldn't be bamboozled into forgetting who she is and what she loves just because of a milkshake. Not unless you're telling me heaven is literally a drug dealing joint.
posted by MiraK at 5:37 PM on January 29 [4 favorites]

There were milkshakes and also constant orgasms maybe that did it?

I don't know, but I'm sad/happy about tomorrow.
posted by emjaybee at 9:57 PM on January 29

It sounds like the concept of everything being easy in heaven made even Hypatia bored as fuck. No challenges, no goals, no point made everyone dull. Which sounds legit.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:36 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]

I also thought it funny that the design and architecture of the real Good Place was far more "corporate campus" as opposed to Michael's "home town" idea of the Good Place.

My first thought was, "Judgment City."
posted by MrBadExample at 10:41 PM on January 29

The translation of the last part of the contract is a segment of the Constitution, and "New Leader of the Good Place" under Michael's signature.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:25 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]

This is from an interview with Bell last September, but....
EW: Was the ending heavier or more poignant than you thought it might be, especially for a comedy?

BELL: Yeah. But in the way that it makes the audience feel. It’s not like everybody dies in a fiery car crash. What it says to the audience is what was so heavy to me. And I thought, “Wow, are people actually even going to want to hear this? Because it’s easier not to.” (bolding mine)
posted by tzikeh at 6:39 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]

Something's bothering me about the residents of The Good Place: they litter.

If - as Patty says (and apparently Megan Amram thought of, per the podcast) - urine disappears before it gets your pants wet, I have no doubt that litter disappears before it hits the ground.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 7:50 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]

A quote from Alan Watts that I've been thinking on in relation to the Good Place as depicted in this episode:
“Let’s suppose that you were able every night to dream any dream that you wanted to dream, and that you could, for example, have the power within one night to dream 75 years of time, or any length of time you wanted to have. And you would, naturally as you began on this adventure of dreams, you would fulfill all your wishes. You would have every kind of pleasure you could conceive. And after several nights, of 75 years of total pleasure each, you would say ‘Well, that was pretty great. But now let’s have a surprise. Let’s have a dream which isn’t under control. Where something is gonna happen to me that I don’t know what it’s gonna be.’ And you would dig that and come out of that and say ‘Wow, that was a close shave, wasn’t it?’. And then you would get more and more adventurous, and you would make further and further out gambles as to what you would dream. And finally, you would dream where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today.”
Sub in the door that gives you anything you want for dreaming, and that's pretty much the Good Place.

17776 is weirdly another story that I think is a really useful comparison point. It's not literally heaven, but all the day-to-day problems are solved and everyone is immortal. What's left? How do you spend Eternity, and what does it mean to be human but immortal? It grappled really effectively with those questions, and that's the same questions that coming up here at the end of the series.

Looking forward to watching the finale. Talk to all in that thread soon.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:01 AM on January 30 [7 favorites]

Something's bothering me about the residents of The Good Place: they litter. Patty just chucks her milkshakes away, usually before she's even finished them.

Patty also said something about pee evaporating from your body instantly, so it's possible that some kind of Good Place energy is just sort of magicking away her milkshakes when she chucks them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:58 PM on January 30

I'm sure the litter does get magicked away instantly (and in the absence of bins I imagine we would all do the same) - but I still see it as a hint that the way the Good Place is designed leads to people being less considerate and thoughtful and less, well, good.
posted by simonw at 2:37 PM on January 30

first, the “death gives life meaning” trope is trash. death is a waste and a disaster. death doesn’t give meaning. death ruins meaning. death ruins everything. “death gives life meaning” is the epistemological manifestation of stockholm syndrome.

Hard disagree on every count. Death _is_ life, not even vegans can survive without an incredibly quantity of death. Our own bodies are a mixture of the living and the dead. In discussions of this episode across different sites, it seems the crowd that genuinely believe that "death is bad, full stop, no matter what" found the proposed solutions in this episode unsatisfying.

There isn't an objective way to examine death or life, really. Is life itself even good? If you ask me, that's a big "meh." Near as I can tell, life is just a thing that happens to matter in this universe, like a star, or any other discrete-ish collection of matter. Life, for us, is what we make of it. Most people agree that some biochemical signals are preferable over others, loosely trending those chems upward seems to be an agreeable policy most folks are comfortable expressing and valuing.

"Why does this show want to tell us that she, and every other good person, just ... threw away all that carefully cultivated ethic of work, duty, creativity, curiosity, kindness, and inquiry? For a milkshake?"

This show isn't creating a new religion, we know that this afterlife is a fiction (many of us also understand all afterlife to be a fiction). Death is already when all that stuff is discarded, which is why they're worth holding up as important now, before we die. Those things you mentioned are resultant from our overactive brains and the struggle between life, death, suffering, and pleasure. Take away the environment we evolved for and molded for ourselves, you take away something of what it means to be a human.
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:55 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]

GoblinHoney, but the show is who's making the claim that death has meaning to begin with. Those of us who think death (specifically, the death of things/creatures/people we love) is stupid and can fuck off aren't arguing with the existential truth that death IS, just like life IS, and neither are we arguing that death is especially horrible and life is especially great. We just vehemently disagree that death is what gives life any meaning. All of human greatness has come from within, people who did great things in spite of death, not because of it... I can't imagine just giving up simply because death is gone! It's insulting to say I would!


As I write that out, I can see how I might be wrong. I'm an individual who has the benefit of aeons of people having died before I lived, people who thought about death more deeply than I, people who WERE often motivated by death to do good things with their life.

I stand on their shoulders, in the culture they created in all its variety which is intrinsically and always thinking about death, steeped in education and art they made possible through their grapplings with death, protected by laws they wrote with their blood because of their understanding of death... How can I proclaim that TO ME death is just a stupid reality, nothing more, certainly didn't give my life any meaning?

Hmm. We have no way of knowing a universe with no death. We don't know how or who we would be if we had been born in Eleanor's paradise. Perhaps the show is right. Perhaps such a world would be inhabited by zombies. Who knows.

It still bugs me that all these humans who are in this paradise aren't actually inhabiting the tabula rasa scenario I imagined in the previous paragraph. They, like me, have known a world with death. They inherited all that culture and knowledge and education. Heck they even have access to that culture still because they stay current, right? In that specific scenario, I still think I'm right. These, the best of people, would not turn into zombies in that paradise just because death is no longer possible for them. They know better than to live an eternity in degeneracy.

Hmm. I can see both sides of it now, re: whether the show is insulting us or not by telling us this is what we turn into when death goes away. Interesting.
posted by MiraK at 4:48 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]

While we can still read this or care: The Good Place Series Finale Predictions
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:59 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]

It seems like this heaven, so far, is pure selfish consumerism. As other said, it lacks everything the show actually values: love, relationships, humor, helping others, creativity. Of course if that's your only option, annihilation is preferable. But that heaven seems almost exactly like the hell they started out in, minus the witty shop names. I can't believe they will resolve there given how the first season was almost entirely devoted to repudiating that conception of heaven.

What's more distressing -- irrespective of how the show decides to end it -- is how many people seem to be quite willing to go along with this conception of the afterlife. I've seen so many people say yes, it seems dull, but won't it be nice to have a long-but-not-endless vacation after all this and then euthanize yourself once and for all? And that fact that that seems like a plausible end -- no new art, no new science, new creation, new relationships, new experiences beyond what we can currently imagine, growth and discovery and voluntary stasis, no helping others until the universe is free of suffering, no humor -- is sad. I mean, I'm happy for anyone who just wants to relax a bit and then end it all, that's fine, but as an image for everybody's final disposition, it seems neither science fictional nor Buddhist, but like the apotheosis of empty capitalism. I hope the show rejects that, or at least if it doesn't, at least gives hints at all the other productive, happy, joyful, morally active heavens that may be possible.
posted by chortly at 6:23 PM on January 30 [5 favorites]

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