Sep 14, 2018

[TV] The Good Place: Season 2 Review

The first season of The Good Place was a television revelation as it was such a refreshing idea for a comedy. The show was just so clever and witty and with a narrative twist that was absolutely perfect. And thus we were obviously eager to watch more.

And that brings us to the second season of The Good Place, which I wasn't sure how it was going to go given the big revelation at the end of the first season. But of course the same genius that crafted that very twist had figured out how to navigate themselves to even more interesting stories.

The first season of the show was brilliant and the ending of that season was a major payoff. This second season was a thrill ride with a heck of a lot more narrative ups than downs. I don't know how they conceived all the stuff that went into this second season, but it was some amazing writing that elevated the show even further and helped it to remain to be one of the best comedies on television.

Synopsis: The Good Place is an American comedy series created by Michael Schur. As of the time of this blog post the show has already been confirmed for a third season.

After our quirky crew had come to the realization that the Good Place is actually the Bad Place. In response to this, Architect Michael (Ted Danson) decided to start everything fresh by erasing the memories of Eleanor (Kristine Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and Jason (Manny Jacinto) in a new variation of their "Good Place". This time around they are kept separate from one another with their own new "soul mates" and the story plays out.

But one thing led to another and yet again Eleanor figures out that this is actually the Bad Place, much to Michael's annoyance. And thus begins a sequence of reboots with Michael repeatedly erasing their memories only for the truth to come out again and again and again. And all this is done without telling Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson), Michael's superior, about the repeated reboots of this experiment. And all this was done after Shawn had forbidden Michael from trying a third reboot of the Good Place - a number that Michael had rebooted way back when.

What I Liked: The first season had already been quite the interesting juxtaposition of discussions of morality and ethics against this whole comedic setting. The second season managed to find a way to elevate things further by throwing Michael into the mix of things as Chidi's latest ethics student. That presented a whole new challenge for how to frame this ethics discussions while still trying things to the other plot lines being explored in each episode.

And then there's the character development, which you think would be difficult to portray for characters whose memories have been erased so many times. And as part of the many messages of the show, they ended up making the same "mistakes" over and over across incarnations of the Good Place, all of which demonstrated that we can't really escape certain things tied to our true selves. And how that all came out was just so amazing while still being crazily funny.

And somehow Janet's (D'Arcy Carden) storylines got even better than what we had seen in the first season.

What Could Have Been Better: I think it's inevitable to somehow cling to some of the events from the first season in terms of what the characters had gone through and there were still a lot of things that made it through. But at the same time a lot of things had effectively been "retconned" away and so this second season has to ignore those things. I won't go into detail for spoiler reasons but I think you get what I mean. This is the challenge of a show that decides to repeatedly reboot the memories of its core cast.

And I kind of wanted more interference from the Bad Place throughout this season for one reason or another. I know it had been written that Shawn was oblivious to the truth of what had been going on and we did get a glimpse of the demons out of "costume" at least. But still the show kind of kept things pretty compartmentalized and we didn't even find a reason to bring back Adam Scott's Trevor character, who had a fun addition to the first season.

TL;DR: The Good Place remains to be an amazing show that somehow managed to make ethics and morality as part of its core identity but managed to keep things funny. This season really flips things on its head a few times and every twist just helps make the show even better. And thus the season gets a great 5 instances of tweaks made to the story of the Good Place in every reboot out of a possible 5.

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