From ‘The Good Place’ Finale to ‘I May Destroy You’: 2020 TV Explored What It Means to Be a Good Person
From The Good Place to BoJack Horseman to I May Destroy You, 2020 TV explored a common theme: how to be a good person. Maybe it’s all the world has been through in the last few years, but several series — especially ones that ended in 2020 — explored the same question. We look back on our favorites for New Year’s Eve.
‘The Good Place’ series finale nearly killed us and sent us to the afterlife
Shows with finales in early 2020 hit us hard and fast. BoJack Horseman and The Good Place both ended — on their own terms — in Jan. 2020.
Perhaps no series is less subtle in its exploration of “goodness” than The Good Place; one of the main characters, Chidi, is an ethics expert, who spends a good chunk of the show explicitly teaching his fellow afterlife members about things like the trolley problem.
Even the characters, like Eleanor, who were bad on earth, find in The Good Place that they get a second chance. Throughout the seasons, Eleanor, Chidi, and their crew actually get a ton of extra chances at the Good Place — and then, the Bad one, too. It also gets eerily relevant in later seasons, ever asking the question: is it possible to be a good citizen/human under a capitalist system? (The Good Place’s system of “points” is a fascinating look at that issue.)
However, the characters — for the most part — use these extra opportunities for good. By the end of the series, The Good Place characters truly have all become better people. Even if they all (spoiler alert) use that growth to find the peace to die.
‘BoJack Horseman’ ended on season 6
BoJack Horseman explores the issue in a more nuanced way — even if the Netflix cartoon doesn’t always appear that way on the surface. The show that started off season 1 somewhat reminiscent of Family Guy and other crass animated shows, evolved over its multiple seasons to become a show that dealt with big topics like alcoholism, depression, grief, and trauma.
By the final season of BoJack, all the characters are going through it. BoJack, voiced by Will Arnett is trying to figure out how to be a good horse who is an addict with a storied, traumatic past. Princess Carolyn is trying to be a good cat-mom to her porcupine baby, while also trying to have it all, with her career. Diane is trying to write out her “story” in a memoir — but realizes that trauma isn’t always transformational, or made to be put in a best-selling book. Sometimes life just sucks. (Isn’t that perfect for 2020?)
Yes, the world is wacky — but still earnest and real in its depiction of real-world struggles. Also, the jokes about LA are simply perfect.
‘Schitt’s Creek’ is also streaming all 6 seasons on Netflix
And all that was before the pandemic really got going.
Schitt’s Creek also aired its final season, which began streaming on Netflix in 2020. The show is a master class in character development; the Rose family is almost unrecognizable in season 6 as opposed to the pilot episode.
Schitt’s Creek delves into a joke-y take on the “how to be a good person” concept; how to be — or at least, seem — good in a small town, fallen from grace as a former wealthy socialite.
But the show gets a lot more deep — and romantic — than that over the course of 6 seasons. And that’s something we need in these trying times.
Other 2020 TV favorites: HBO’s ‘I May Destroy You’
Honorable mentions include the Comedy Central show Corporate, which aired its 3rd and final season in 2020. Much like The Good Place, the series explores how to be a good person within a broken, top-heavy system. The final season also has a fascinating take on depression, which is worth checking out.
I May Destroy You might not count — but it was so good and relevant we had to bring it up. (It started, and most likely ended in 2020, so maybe it does count). The show explores how to do your best in a tricky, complicated society where everyone you know is also hurting — as well as how to be a good person online, which everyone can probably use a refresher on.