#TypesTuesday – The Good Place
This month is Power of Love month, where most of the website’s content is dedicated to those who are caregivers and romantics. They believe that those they love owe them for their constant affections. There is nothing they won’t do for love, with it be for selfless or selfish reasons. These Characters can be mentors and parents, lovers, or stalker or clingy, needy nightmares!
We will celebrate Valentine’s Day month by examining these characters. I’ll be looking at some of these examples from TV, Film and elsewhere throughout the course of February.
I recently viewed an excellent high-concept sitcom produced by NBC and Netflix called The Good Place. It’s created by Michael Schur, the co-creator of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Parks & Recreation. Unlike, but those sitcoms, it manages to do something really original. I have to be careful how much I say because each episode is full of twists and turns I don’t want to spoil the fun.
The basic premise it this: Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) has died and gone to “The Good Place”, which is basically Heaven. But Eleanor doesn’t belong there- she was brought to “The Good Place” by mistake- and is terrified someone discovering the mistake. With the help of her friends, she tries to avoid detection until she can become a good enough person to stay.
The Good Place is managed by Michael (Ted Danson), the architect of the neighborhood and a classic Power of Ambition character, desperate to please his boss and keep the inhabitants of The Good Place happy. Eleanor’s fellow inhabitants include Chidi (William Jackson Harper), a Moral Ethics professor who couldn’t be more Power of Conscience if he tried- his constant consideration for every possible ethical outcome caused his death.
There is also couple Tahini (Jameela Jamil), a British socialite who is determined to have the best, the finest, the most exquisite things in The Good Place, and Buddhist Monk Jianyu (Manny Jacinto) a simpleton who lacks common sense – Power of Idealism and Excitement respectively- who are incompatible as soulmates. Eleanor, both before and after her transformation from a self-absorbed jerk, is Power of Love.
Eleanor very quickly attaches herself to the rest of the ensemble out of necessity, believing they owe her something as they become embroiled in her conspiracy- that Michael cannot know that she should be in The Bad Place. Power of Love characters make themselves indispensable to those around them, smothering them with affection or acting needy and possessive of them. Without these people, Eleanor faces eternal damnation.
As the series progresses, the main ensemble of characters are kept together by Eleanor as she truly learns to love them and becomes protective of them. The most selfish character becomes the most selfless, at first out of necessity, then eventually out of genuine affection for her friends. Eleanor judges herself by how her friends perceive her. Everything she does in The Good Place is for her friends, and for Michael’s self-preservation.
The show is full of ethical questions, which makes it a bit more interesting than your average sitcom. It is a Power of Love because every decision our lead characters make is out of love for the others, or because they feel they owe something to the others. They are all dependent on each other, and though it may not seem like it at the start of the show, they love each other.
I would highly recommend this show; it’s the best new sitcom I’ve seen in quite a while and provides a great example of a Power of Love character in Eleanor. The Good Place it is a Power of Love story answering the question– what do we owe each other?