I attended a high school that had philosophy as a required class. So I’m probably in a very strange demographic that actually has read some of the writers and thinkers mentioned in each episode of NBC’s “The Good Place”, which, with the strangest premise in network television, is about a weird afterlife called The Good Place. If whoever is teaching that class right now isn’t currently using scenes from “The Good Place” to help facilitate discussion, I’m very publicly calling them out right now on this wasted opportunity.
Plus, as any regular reader of this column knows, I will root for any show that has positivity at its heart, so “The Good Place” seems made for me. In this show, the worst of people (and supernatural beings) can eventually become the best. The selfish can become the selfless. Every eightish episodes everything we think we know changes. People are dead. Then they aren’t. The universe is fair. Then it isn’t. People are soul mates. Then they aren’t. Now there’s a fictional Hemsworth brother. Everyone is Janet and Janet is everyone. It’s very weird. I’m frankly impressed NBC has kept it and anyone has watched it.
But, what also works great about “The Good Place” is you don’t actually have to have ever read or even want to read Kant to care. If you like Kirsten Bell or miss Ted Danson being on your TV, “The Good Place” might just be for you. It's funny and ridiculous even if you aren’t into the deep philosophical content. You can literally watch any random actor in any scene and their reactions alone could be enough to make you laugh.
Just like when I was reading philosophy in high school I’m not buying every idea that “The Good Place” is selling. But I love the conversation it sparks. I love that it reminds us that we need each other. I love that it does that while being hilarious. And if this somehow smart but goofy show created by that guy who played Mose in The Office can do that, more power to it.
PS. That Creator’s name is Michael Schur. He also created “Parks and Rec”. But it's more fun to remember him as Cousin Mose. You know I’m right.
Strange Perspective is a weekly look at all things pop culture, by Progress columnist Rachel Strange.