Why ‘The Good Place’ Is the Best Comedy on Television Right Now

It might feel like the reality we’re in now is a little too similar to purgatory, which might explain why NBC’s The Good Place has become so popular. Then again, there’s numerous things said in the show that arguably make it the best comedy NBC has had in years.

When it began, a lot of people were perplexed at its concept and whether the idea of dead people being stuck in a strange afterlife world would be able to stretch past one season. Admittedly, even yours truly didn’t think it would last long.

Then, suddenly, it started to expand its comedic horizons, likely by design. Let’s take a minute to see what makes The Good Place a real heavenly comedy experience.

The show mimics the world we’re living in now

If you’ve seen every episode of The Good Place, then you know how bureaucratic that afterlife world is. With Ted Danson playing “Michael” (a “demon” who is an afterlife architect), the hierarchies and labyrinthine rules only continue to become more hilariously entangled as time goes on.

In the beginning, some of us realized this “good lace” probably isn’t what it says it is. Those more observant might have assumed it was just purgatory, which feels almost too similar to the real world we live in.

Through all the nightmare bureaucracy and duplicitous leaders, viewers likely see a lot of similarities to our reality. It’s a unique way to process all the things we’re going through now with frustrating leadership running our own show.

Philosophy has become the nucleus of the show’s situations

While Kristen Bell and the other cast members make the show a joy to watch, William Jackson Harper’s character — Chidi Anagonye — took the show to an unexpected plateau. Playing a deceased ethics professor, Chidi allowed one of the rare times for a character to start spouting real philosophy concepts in a sitcom. The show even hired a real philosopher to consult to better understand the intellectual ideas of mortality from Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus.

Some of the plots from the second and third seasons hinged on a few philosophical conundrums related to the nature of human beings and how we react to death.

This is really the heart of the show and seems to have touched a nerve without looking smarty pants about it.

How many sitcoms of recent memory can you say nurtures hours of discussion on ethics out of just one episode?

They skirt the censors by using hilarious variations on profanity

One of the most annoying trends in mainstream network dramas and comedies lately is allowing the characters to curse and just bleep it out. Presumably, the streaming or DVD editions leave the profanity intact to make it feel like an HBO show.

The Good Place ribs this trend by letting the characters openly curse by replacing those words with something else. We’ve seen this become so popular, the F word is now being replaced by “Fork” lately in general conversation (and T-shirts).

Doing this was a smart move: the show could easily play at 8:30 p.m. while not offending anyone overly sensitive to the profanity insinuations.

The cast chemistry has similarities to ‘Cheers’

No one could help not connect the dots of Ted Danson to Cheers when The Good Place began, especially since this show relies on cast chemistry to work.

Since Ted Danson is the highest-paid actor on the show, most people couldn’t remove themselves from his legendary Cheers days. Thankfully, the smart and all-knowing writers realized an homage to Cheers (in a Season Two episode) would be the best thing to make the show have even more connecting strings to the world.

Because The Good Place still has so much mystery behind it, we can come up with our own absurd ideas of what this reality really is. An idea of Sam Malone becoming Michael the anti-angel in the afterlife is just one idea some might not resist making. As a result, it turns the show into a continual piece of comedic/philosophical clay to shape it into whatever we want.