The Good Place

The Good Place: Is Kristen Bell's New NBC Comedy Giving You Afterlife?

Monday’s two-part series premiere of The Good Place found Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) awakening in the afterlife, where she was welcomed by a calming message: “Everything is fine!” Unfortunately, that message also came with an expiration date.

You see, Eleanor wasn’t technically supposed to end up in the “Good Place,” the final destination for decent, upstanding people who spent their mortal lives improving the world around them. Due to a clerical error — from which even celestial beings are apparently not immune — Eleanor’s file was mixed up with that of a lawyer who fought to keep innocent people off death row. (You know, when she wasn’t delivering toys to orphans in third-world countries.)

This left Eleanor with two choices: Fess up to Michael (Ted Danson), the architect of her particular neighborhood, potentially resulting in her immediate relocation to the Bad Place… or convince her newly assigned soulmate Chidi (William Jackson Harper) to teach her the ways of morality, thus securing an eternity in a house surrounded by creepy clown portraits.

Unsurprisingly, Eleanor’s education got off to a rocky start; Chidi’s first assignment, a full day of volunteer garbage clean-up in favor of actual flying lessons, ended with a literal garbage storm. (It was preferable to the flying shrimp and giant lady bugs that plagued the ‘hood earlier that day, but still not totally ideal.)

The way I see it, the biggest obstacle on Eleanor’s road to righteousness will be her poorly concealed jealousy of neighbor Tahani (Jameela Jamil), whose palatial manor dwarfs Eleanor’s clown-infested cottage. With all the self-awareness of 30 Rock‘s Jenna Maroney, the elegant, statuesque “cartoon giraffe” devotes equal time to basking in her own glory and brown-nosing Michael.

(Pause for a theory: What if Tahani was also mistakenly put in the Good Place, hence her seemingly insatiable need for Michael’s favor? Between her self-aggrandizing attitude and her total incompatibility with her designated soulmate, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tahani’s placement in the afterlife was due to an interoffice snafu. Dun, dun, dun!)

The good news, at least for Eleanor, is that no one in the Good Place really knows what they’re doing. Heck, even Michael let his own feelings of inadequacy get the better of him, resulting in that poor lady’s dog being punted head-first into the sun. This is going to be a process for everyone.

Final Thoughts: Like my colleague Dave Nemetz, I really enjoyed this premiere. I had a lot of fun watching Eleanor explore her unpredictable new world, where even the side characters — like Janet (D’Arcy Carden), the Good Place’s human Google — seem capable of carrying their own show. I was a big Pushing Daisies fan, traces of which I see in the show’s blindingly colorful palette and supernatural undertones, so I’m also digging the show’s aesthetics. Frankly, it would require a really sharp nosedive in quality to get The Good Place booted from my DVR schedule, where — unlike Eleanor — it has already earned its place.

Are you ready to join me in The Good Place? (The show, not the actual Good Place.) Grade the series premiere below, then drop a comment with your full review.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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77 Comments
  1. SarahJ says:

    It was forking hilarious!

  2. This was a very good way to start the television season.

  3. greg says:

    Love Kristen… but I didn’t laugh once. I think the premise might be too out there for me. I’d rather see Kristen in a role like an she had in parks and rec

    • dan says:

      Agree. My wife and I were hoping to like this show, but it just didn’t click for us. The premise is good and it has potential, however we found it humorless. I think I laughed once. My wife left the room during the first few minutes of Chapter 2.

    • TheloNaGrapso says:

      Agree. Interesting show but a comedy is supposed to make you laugh.

    • Crys says:

      I totally agree. Loved the premise LOVE Kristen Bell, but it just wasn’t funny to me. I should’ve known that it wasn’t my kind of funny when the shrimp started flying and the giant ladybug started running around. I wish they would have took it another way. But, oh well, I will follow K. Bell to her next show. Goes to show different people find different things funny.

  4. Paula says:

    I am officially head over heels in awe of this program. Saying it is truly unique doesn’t do it justice. Forking wonderful (and then some)! The cast is superb, the writing and directing is terrific and the cinematography and set design are spectacular! NBC you’ve given viewers a genuine gift. Now excuse me while I contact everyone I have ever met so I can urge them to watch The Good Place!

  5. Gena says:

    I really enjoyed that. :) It reminded me quite a bit of the Albert Brooks movie ‘Defending Your Life,’ and it also felt similar in tone to ‘Last Man on Earth’ (particularly the first season) and ‘My Name is Earl’…

  6. Britt/Bratt says:

    I was falling asleep and turned it off half way through the show. I don’t see myself watching any more episodes.

  7. Alyssa says:

    It would have been great to see the premiere (and in fact we tried to tune it), except in New York The Voice’s airing somehow became delayed by an hour, ending at 11 p.m.

  8. Dancing donna says:

    I really enjoyed it. I’m a Kristin Bell fan, plus this is a show that’s different.

  9. Jen says:

    Thought it was very clever and was immediately charmed by it, but a few inconsistencies threw me off…Janet (human Google) seems to know who Ellanor really is based on her answer about how much she was into the guy she questioned the sexuality of. I know they established that their search history using Janet was secret, but that just didn’t sit right with me. Janet seems to work for or at least beside Michael and it would seem she would spill the beans.

    • Steven says:

      I don’t think Janet is capable of spilling the beans, though now that you mention it Michael could just ask her what the inconsistency is… Hopefully they address that.

    • lrdslvrhnd says:

      To be fair… Janet can instantly look up the answer, but that doesn’t mean she KNOWS it at any other given time. I can google how to baste a chicken, but my computer still won’t know how. And I’m not sure Michael would even think to ask her what he screwed up.

  10. Larc says:

    Total junk! Very boring, IMO.

  11. Ian says:

    I thought it was fun and interesting. As soon as I heard Ariana singing, the laughing didn’t stop. I got the show after the first episode, the cast is great, and it’s set in a world with mysteries we already need a lot of answers explaining, so it gives the show sustainability.

  12. Lala says:

    Not for me…It will be interesting to see how it does

  13. Simon Jester says:

    Enjoyed it. “Defending Your Life” meets “Pushing Daisies.”

    • Danni says:

      I got the Pushing Daisies feel, myself. That was an amazing show that they didn’t give a chance. I just hope that this one being “unique” like PD was can get the audience that it didn’t. I am excited to see more!

  14. Lysh says:

    I was entertained. I love KBell and all the bright colors…I’ll probably check it out again. I’m more of a drama/dramedy type of gal though. It seemed to be lacking in depth or something. Like, all of the sudden she woke up and was filled with guilt. But I’ll stick with it for a little bit more.

  15. Dr. M says:

    Quirky is not the same as funny or interesting. Not a single character to like or bring me back. I’m out.

  16. D says:

    I thought it was really cute and fun and I’m interested to see where they take it. Kristen Bell is great, the jokes are solid but not LOL funny.

    My theory is that the place isn’t just for good people but people who need to work on themselves get paired with someone who can help them do that. That’s why Eleanor got an ethics professor and Tahani got a dude who doesn’t speak, to help them work on their problems.

  17. pileobunnies says:

    It feels like it should have been a 90-minute movie instead of a TV series. I’m out.

  18. Max says:

    Moved achingly slow for me, but once we got past the whole set up, it finally developed some sort of rhythm. I’ll watch again and see where it’s going, but as of now, it’s not Must See TV.

  19. Ram510 says:

    Somehow, this one just wasn’t for me. Seeing how people have compared the show to Pushing Daisies makes me remember how that show wasn’t for me but I was rooting for it to succeed. I feel the same way about this one, I don’t think it’s for me but I hope it succeeds. I like how it’s creative, imaginative and unpredictable and the overall look of the show. So I’ll probably give it another shot

  20. PatriciaLee says:

    The husband turned it on to show me how bad it was, only to be blown away with my setting up a weekly recording. It looks a charmer to be watched while he does his Dateline and Crime Watch stuff.

  21. cuius says:

    Sorry, a very limited season – five minutes

  22. Red Snapper says:

    I really loved it. I thought it was funny and refreshing. I wanted more and can’t wait for the next one. I already have a few theories starting to form. I also think that Michael made a few other mistakes. I think that Tahani isn’t supposed to be there either or she got paired with the wrong soulmate. That poor guy.

  23. Ally Oop says:

    As much as I really like Kristen Bell, I really hated this show. I think the concept would have been much better suited to the movie format. Anyways, I gave the show a C. The acting is great across the board but the premise is too ridiculous. I’ll give it one more episode but I think I’ll be hitting delete on my dvr timer for this show soon.

  24. B says:

    It was cute, but it didn’t make me laugh. As quirky as it might be, a lot of it felt expected. For example, the way Eleanor being out of place brought chaos into the world of bliss. Of course it did. If it’s such an exclusive place, having a totally wrong vibe and *not* creating havoc with her presence would have been ridiculous. I kept wondering what wonderful things Tahani contributed in life, so if she’s also a mistake, that would make sense. Except — why then isn’t *she* causing chaos? Also, they went overboard with the thwarted swearing. Yup – got it the first six times.

    I’ll watch for now, but I’m wondering how they can sustain the premise without it getting repetitive. Eleanor will have her lessons. She’ll screw up. There will be a heartwarming moment of growth. Then she’ll screw up again. Maybe they’ll make it more interesting than that, but so far, I wasn’t terribly impressed.

  25. Eva says:

    Everyone was good, but the only character that had me actually howling with laughter was Tahani – excelently written and a really solid performance by Jameela. The dynamic between her and her soulmate was the best part of the two episodes.

  26. Clark Kent says:

    I liked it overall. The show didn’t knock it out of the park, but I liked the dialogue and I always like Kristen Bell. But that said, not sure I’m such a fan of the concept that only the saint like people get into the good place. The idea that people like Florence Nightengale rot in hell was a tad disturbing. With standards that high, unless they later reveal that the bad place isn’t that bad, why would anyone want to exist?

  27. Eurydice says:

    I don’t know. It was fine. Everybody did a good job. I watched the whole thing. But I can imagine that a plot will unfold veeeeeerrrrry slowly and I don’t think I will have the patience for that and the comedy isn’t funny enough or the characters interesting enough to keep me going.

  28. Lisa Echerd says:

    Finally, someone in Hollywood has imagination! Fresh, fun, truly humorous, well cast, unpredictable. The only downside is the permanent time slot against Grey’s Anatomy and in November against CBS comedy lineup. Why does NBC sabotage everything they do in one way or another?

  29. Bark Star says:

    I enjoyed it a lot, mostly thanks to the perfromance of Kristen Bell and Ten Danson. I just dont know if it has legs. I mean, how long can you extend the premise ?

  30. Svenja Evers says:

    i wanted to like it soo bad….

  31. Susan says:

    Being a Kristen Bell fan, I knew I had to watch. I really enjoyed the show, but honestly, after 30 minutes I was checking the clock. Is this really an hour-long comedy, or was that just the first ep to get us hooked? Truthfully, I don’t have the patience anymore to sit through a full 60 minutes, so they’ll really have to work hard to keep my attention. That being said, I did LOL frequently. The writing is excellent, and KB can pull it off. The length is my only concern. Am I alone here?

  32. KMG says:

    It was really cute, but only mildly funny. I am a big fan of both Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, and it is definitely unique, so I’ll give it another couple of episodes. But I was pretty disappointed.

  33. Writerpatrick says:

    I caught about five minutes of it and couldn’t stand it. Way too Hollywood/Beverly Hills.

  34. Lucky says:

    I loved this show so much! The premise is great and there is a lot of clever humor throughout. I’ll definitely keep watching.

  35. Jared says:

    I liked The Good Place but didn’t find it very funny. Kristen is just so likeable and the premise is unique so I’ll give it a few more episodes.

  36. texmike says:

    I found it mildly humorous. I’ll give it another chance however, it needs to quickly improve.

  37. dman6015 says:

    It was good. Hope for their sake there isn’t a writer’s strike on the horizon. That’s what killed Pushing Daisies.

  38. Kevin K says:

    I give The Good Place an A. Kristen Bell and Ted Danson are forking hilarious and NBC really has high hopes for the series. This is what the network needs to finally have a sitcom to become a breakout hit.

  39. Tennisnsun says:

    Refreshing to have a lighthearted imaginative and happy choice other than sordid reality, vampires, and gothic themes. It’s not my cup of tea but at least someone is trying. Reminded me of Pushing Daises and I felt it seemed better suited for a movie screen. Possibly will work better for me in the switch to half hour segments.

  40. Larc says:

    I thought the premise got old well before the end of the first episode. What could they do from here on out other than variations of precisely the same theme? It’s scratched off my viewing list.

  41. Neve says:

    They’ve got to do something about the clowns. I can’t really watch while holding a hand in front of face to avoid seeing them. Seriously, who thought clowns were a good idea?!!

  42. robandco says:

    Ugh, Kristen Bell is amazing, the premise is amazing but the premiere was a bit underwhelming.
    It was funny, but it was a little too subtle.
    Also the cast is WEAK. It could have used a few big names. Ted Danson is great in the role, and William Jackson Harper is a nice surprise, but the rest is bland.
    Butt I’ll watch anything with Bell’s name on it so of course I am hooked. That last scene was intriguing and I’m sure it will only get better.

  43. it reminded me the premise of “Samantha who?”. loved the show.

  44. Temperance says:

    I’m not the biggest Kristen Bell fan, and I’m really not a Ted Danson fan at all, but this was very much not what I was expecting. I wondered from the clips how this wold have legs beyond the pilot even, but it was… interesting. Sort of oddly amusing, but more interesting conceptually. I’ll give it a half-dozen episodes to see how to goes. And by design or by accident, this is not really The Good Place… more like purgatory, with the ‘soulmates’ being polar opposites.

  45. Kailani says:

    That’s 35 minutes neither of us will get back. Because yeah, we couldn’t take any more than that. I laughed once. EARLY. Not after that. Neither of us did. Oh well.

  46. My 13-year-old daughter also had the same theory about Tahani that perhaps she was also (or the only) mistake. I didn’t even think of that as I watching but it’s a good theory.

    I got more into it as it went on and when Ted Danson kicked that little dog into the sun I laughed so hard I was actually having trouble breathing. My daughter was screaming in horror because she doesn’t like it when animals are shown being hurt (it was fine, came back later) and I had to pause the show to compose myself. Even today I still laugh whenever I think of it. The little *poof!* as it hit the sun was awesome. It was just so unexpected and that’s what I think I’ll like about this series.

  47. BB says:

    Didn’t laugh once, just not funny, did not appreciate the dog kick at all, Eleanor is just not a likeable character… And, come on, why doesn’t the gal who knows it all know that Eleanor doesn’t belong there? We tried it. Not for us.

  48. Lois Halverson says:

    I enjoyed it, like the premise of the storyline, but feel I’d like to see a few more episodes before really knowing if I’m going to like it.

  49. Paula says:

    Look at the welcome to the “good” place video and notice Ted Danson’s tie. Hint: it’s a peacock feather

  50. Philip Milano says:

    Johnny Depp must be jealous!