This post contains spoilers for The Good Place.
For most of 2020 and 2021, The Good Place fantasy comedy television series was a coping mechanism with its comedic brilliance and self-awareness. Set in a near-perfect collective imagination of the afterlife – called The Good Place – where its less-than-perfect characters grapple with the inanities of living in heaven and the repercussions of their past lives on earth, the show made the most sense in a year that felt unreal.
As the four characters reveal, sometimes unknowingly, their true colours and discover the burning – quite literally – secret of The Good Place, there was an important lesson: life, even the afterlife, is chaotic and messy.
In contrast, 2022 felt somewhat normal, like the meme of the dog sipping coffee in a room on fire – “everything is fine”, which also happens to be the motto of The Good Place. I had watched The Good Place multiple times, but frequently returned to parts of the show through 2022 – some purely for how brilliant and funny they are and others as a reminder of how far we’ve all come since the pandemic began.
The first, and my favourite, is where the four characters realise exactly where they are – The Bad Place, or basically hell, and they are all being tortured, largely by being made to put up with each other. It also contains a montage of the series of reboots by various minions of The Bad Place to convince the characters that they’re all in The Good Place but to continue torturing them.
The second is the glorious meltdown of anxious, indecisive moral philosophy professor Chidi Anagonye upon realising – after a series of plot twists that temporarily return him to his life on earth – that despite everything he thought he did right, he ended up in The Bad Place. Chidi also offers a great lesson on philosophy with a brilliant line: “I’m gonna teach you the meaning of life, how do you like them apples?” he tells an exasperated student, mid-meltdown.
Finally, though a tad utopian for our “troubled times”, the ending of The Good Place comes pretty close to perfect. Life is not easy, there are good days and bad days, it is incredibly difficult to be a good person and make meaningful, good decisions in the age of the impending apocalypse, but some days, it can be worth it.
And finally, a bonus round of Chidi just being generally indecisive and on the verge of spiralling.