One of the two new shows I'm actually watching is NBC's The Good Place. It's on Thursdays at 8:30. Why should you watch it?
Who Created It?
Mike Schur! He made Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn 99 and again features an increasingly well developed cast of diverse characters, which based on past history will only get better with more time. Similar sense of humor as those shows.
What's It About?
It's about The Good Place, an afterlife where people are rewarded for living good lives based on a complicated mathematical formula evaluating all of their choices in life. Remaining loyal to the Cleveland Browns is a positive act, for example. People are rewarded with meeting their true soul mates in a "neighborhood" which is supposed to be perfect. Unfortunately, our main character, Eleanor was mistaken for another woman with the same name who was a wonderful person while she was... not. The good Eleanor's soul mate was conveniently a professor of moral philosophy who is trying to teach her to be a person who actually deserves to be in The Good Place.
Who's In It?
Veronica Mars herself, Kristen Bell, stars as Eleanor. She belongs on TV and is doing great work here. She makes Eleanors journey from being a shallow, self-obsessed asshole towards being a better person believable, while also having the killer comic timing she displayed on Veronica Mars. She's why I tried this show, and I've been rewarded.
William Jackson Harper is Chidi, the aforementioned moral philosophy professor who is paired with Eleanor and is trying to teach her how to be a good person. He is basically the straight man in this show, where his horrified reaction to Eleanor drives comedy, but his reactions are funny in and of themselves.
Jameela Jamil is Tahani, Eleanor and Chidi's next door neighbor who was a philanthropist in life and is more than a little insufferable about it. Her presence questions the formula beyond the mistake of Eleanor being here.
Manny Jacinto is Jianyu, a monk who swore himself to a vow of silence which he is maintaining in the afterlife. This seems like a shitty, boring character, but trust me. He's Tahani's soul mate and since she likes talking...
(Episode 4 spoiler)
Also he's really Jason Mendoza, a Phillipino-American drug dealer/shitty EDM DJ from Jacksonville. He also should not be in The Good Place. And is pretty funny at playing very, very stupid.
D'Arcy Carden is Janet, the all knowing information resource that people in The Good Place can call on for information and favors at any time. Steals a lot of scenes she's in.
And Ted Danson as Michael, the architect of The Good Place. What exactly he is is unclear, but thinking of him as a guardian angel wouldn't be entirely off. Danson is of course an old sitcom pro and does good work here as you'd expect. Michael loves humanity but doesn't really understand it.
It's a sitcom but the world is developing and trying to figure out what is wrong with The Good Place is actually a kind of interesting story in its own right. These people are considerably more flawed than you would expect the best few hundred people on Earth to be. Weird stuff keeps happening too, because Eleanor should not belong. Resolving that is the continuing story like Leslie Knope's quest to build a park was in Parks and Rec. It's more central here than it was in that show, but does not dominate the show.
Bonus: only a 13 episode order, so it shouldn't get too padded.
There are flashbacks to the resident's lives on Earth which generally aren't great. Some hacky jokes, especially the one involving swearing not being allowed. Also so far the usual pairings are Eleanor and Chidi with the other characters off in the B Story. Hopefully as the series matures that will be more diverse.
But You Like It, Right?
Yes. As usual, Schur has created a funny comedy with an excellent cast and solid, sharp writing. It's getting better with each episode, too. Tonight's episode marked the halfway point and was the best one yet, I thought.
Who else is watching this?
Herbert Hoover got 40% of the vote in 1932. Friendly reminder.