the thing I really like about The Good Place is that it thematically revolves around ethics and what makes a person good or bad (both in the sense of– how do we define good and bad, and in the sense of–what aspects of someone’s formative environment and social group influence how they will treat other people).
and the conclusion that the show comes to over and over is both that it is possible to become a better person, and because it’s possible we owe it to each other to keep trying to be better– for all eternity if we must.
there’s no end to it, and (should I make a prediction) no real “good place” where you’ve gotten to the finish line and “won” at being a good person. it’s an eternal commitment to other people.
you create your own good place, because whether you’re in a good place or a bad place is defined by how people treat each other. when your community has collectively learned to respect, value, and help each other, you experience the peace and support that you might have once imagined in the abstract being awarded to the truly “good”
Sartre famously said that the Bad Place is other people. The Good Place argues that the Good Place is, too.
That’s because Mike Schur is Jewish.
The underlying theme of all of his shows is essentially chesed (חֶסֶד), which basically translates to loving-kindness. But not just like, loving kindness? But a DUTY to loving-kindness, a duty to tikkun olam, or repairing the world through acts of genuine chesed.
Tahani was committed to good works, but not out of a commitment to loving-kindness. Not for others and, tbh, not for herself, since she spent her whole life feeling “less” than Kamilah. To love others as yourself, you have to love yourself.
Similarly, Chidi was desperately unkind and unloving to himself, and thus denied the *whole world* loving-kindness. TGP shows this in the way Chidi’s thought- and behavior patterns that hurt him throughout his life were also inherently harming the people around him who loved him.
Eleanor purposely acted against loving-kindness, to the point where seeing others engaged in it made her angry.
Jason, honestly, had a very kind and loving soul, but his actions caused harm to others (whether that was his intention or not, and honestly it seems like he mostly just didn’t understand the impact of his choices a lot of the time… but harm is harm).
“You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it,” “learn to do good,” etc. I’m not saying that TGP ~is Jewish, because it’s not, but I AM saying that you can see Schur’s ethical framework in his art, and trying to look at any of his shows through a Christian lens is going to skew them.
Also the whole thing where there’s not really a heaven nor a hell, and that it seems like in The Good Place’s eschatology, actions are ultimately judged solely by the impact they have on others – which I feel like was also one of the main themes of Parks & Rec, and is wrestled with in B99. The highest ethical order is chesed.
Ok now I’m struck by the fact that there’s 4 main humans in this show and for some reason my brain immediately went to the 4 children from the Passover Seder and it fits so well?
Like obvs Chidi seems the choice for the wise and Eleanor fits the wicked, and it’s tempting to say Jason is the ignorant child, but then I realized he spent much of S1 in silence and is the child who cannot ask. Which leaves Tahani as the ignorant child which imo fits as well.
>The highest ethical order is chesed.
We should all aspire to be cheesed. Cheese is good.
This is a really good analysis (not warped ellipsis but the one above that)
That’s not a nice thing to say to @warpedellipsis <_<