This story contains no spoilers.
Where Westworld failed, NBC’s metaphysical sitcom The Good Place succeeds. The show’s 13-show first season ended with a plot twist that viewers didn’t see coming, and it turns the show upside down. It’s funny too.
The Good Place is a bright spot in an otherwise uninspired time for network TV, with streaming and cable channels siphoning off talent and audience share. And it comes with a strong pedigree: The show was created by Michael Schur, one of the minds behind Parks and Recreation and The Office, and stars TV veterans Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. Critical reaction has generally been positive, but strong ratings haven’t followed—perhaps because of the show’s bizarre premise.
The Good Place is set in the afterlife. The show begins with Bell’s character, Eleanor Shellstrop, waking up and finding out that she is in heaven. She is told this by the “architect” of her neighborhood in paradise. This flummoxes Eleanor because she knows she was actually a pretty horrible person. She lived a life of immoral, selfish indulgence as a saleswoman in Arizona. As the show proceeds, Eleanor gets to know the other anointed, and tries to figure out why she didn’t end up in hell.
In many ways, The Good Place is a classic sitcom. There are six main characters that are wacky and lovable, and one-liners galore.
But there is more about the comedy that is unique. The show traffics in heady philosophical themes. The Good Place must be the first network sitcom to seriously consider Kantian ethics. It is also heavily reliant on viewers following the plot closely from episode to episode. It’s Lost meets 30 Rock.
There are plot twists throughout the show, but nothing prepares viewers for what is comes in the season’s final episode. The big reveal of the show is as smart and slick a shocker as anything seen on TV. It was reminiscent, to me, of first watching the famous twist at the end of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense—a “how could I not have not seen that coming?” moment that makes you rethink the whole show.
It’s unclear whether The Good Place will be renewed for a second season. But the last episode bombshell certainly seems to have been part a plan to leave the audience wanting more. “I will say that by the end of the final episode, you hopefully will be very excited to see what season 2 is,” Schur told Entertainment Weekly.