Thoughts on The Good Place

My writing concerning TV shows usually focus on nostalgic old programs from the 60s and 70s. I don’t find contemporary series as interesting to write about. But, that certainly isn’t the case with the series The Good Place which ended this past week.

If you have not seen the final episode or want to start watching the series based on the publicity the show has received, consider this a “spoiler alert” and stop reading. But, for those who did see the ending, I offer a couple of thoughts.

First, I thought it was a great show. The acting was superb and the storyline, while admittedly a bit hard to follow at times, was fascinating. The unexpected moments and the sly humor were great. Most importantly, the characters were truly memorable and, as with any good “ensemble cast”, they worked so well together.

The series often presented philosophical concepts and debates in a rather unique way. Sometimes, I paid less attention than I should have to those philosophical issues in deference to just watching the series and enjoying the characters so I think I will take the time to watch the series again from the beginning to fully appreciate that aspect of the show.

I was drawn to the show originally because, as has been evidenced in my postings, I am fascinated by the question of the “afterlife” and am a firm believer in the continued existence of our souls after physical death. But, to me, the most important point that the series made, has really less to do about the afterlife as it does to our lives here on earth.

In my opinion, the most important message that the series presented was that we can make positive changes in our lives and the best way to do is to get help from – and be helped by- other people. The evolution and transformation of the characters from the beginning of the series to the end- especially that of Jason who was my favorite character of the four “friends” was stunning to watch and so uplifting in so many ways.

This lesson was reflected in the ending of the series. The decision to make the first destination after death a learning place that would enable one to get to “the good place” was brilliant. Our Jewish tradition teaches that we can transform this world into paradise and it is interesting to consider that that paradise would not be a place of perfection but a place where everyone was dedicated to helping each other grow to be better people.

And Eleanor’s final act before she was ready to go through the “door”: that of convincing Mindy who was alone in “the medium place” that she needed to surround herself with others brought me, literally, to tears.

By making the afterlife a place of learning, the Good Place reminded us all how much we need to depend upon others to help us be the best we can be and how much others are counting on us to do the same.

Thank you to the creator of The Good Place for teaching us that we can’t wait for eternity to make the most of our lives.

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