SPOILERRIFIC topic about The Good Place

I watched all of The Good Place. Three more seasons than I expected, but I finished it last night.

I have… thoughts.

Honestly, I thought it was pretty consistently good, aside from Jason, who is awful. Not only stupid, I mean I can understand stupid, but actively bad. Jason is a bad person, and I don’t like that his redemption arc involves him maintaining his stupidity as a kind of… Buddhist-esque innocence, I guess? Whatever it is, I didn’t like it.

And another thing: the ending is super depressing. Bleak, really, really bleak… which was not at all what I was expecting and was heartwrenchingly awful. They all abandoned Eleanor… and yes, I get that Eleanor needed to finish stuff, but there’s no reason that her stuff shouldn’t have finished earlier than the rest if only to spare her from being alone for hundreds of years. And I hate… hate hate… the idea that people would get “tired” of paradise. I don’t even believe in an afterlife and it bothers me.

So yeah. Tired today, and sad. But glad I watched it for the most part because when it was good it was great.

Book of Boba Fett next, and as much as I love Star Wars I have very, very low expectations for this one. We will see.

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Good Place: Honestly, I found the ending rather comforting. (Dammit how do you do spoiler tags again?) Like this?

Edit: Nope

Like this!

The idea of an infinite afterlife has always bothered me, so I thought the solution they came up with - that your essence goes back into the world making it a better place - was rather touching. I cried. Several times.

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I’m with Mr Jackdaw here. I find the idea of infinity dizzying and terrifying. There’s literally nothing you couldn’t do, no skill you couldn’t master, no book you couldn’t write, no crime you wouldn’t commit. And you’d do all of these things infinite times until the novelty of novelty wore off. We’d all end up like Dr Manhattan. In infinite time we’d all blend into identical beings and I find the thought horrifying. I found the ending moving and sweet too.I sort of understand about Jason though, I liked him but absolutely get what you mean.

Sorry about that big block of text! All spoilery but quick summary: loved The Good Place.

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Oh, I liked The Good Place. Great bit of writing. But gosh did I find that ending sad.

I mean, I get it… but I don’t agree with it. You have the option for infinite happiness… to just be happy. To not need to pursue, to struggle, to strive… to spend time doing what you love with people you love. And you’re going to try and convince me that I’ll become unhappy doing that which makes me happiest?!

I think a really big part of it is the supposition that only the uncertainty of death makes life worth living… that morality tied to a knowledge of what will or won’t happen isn’t moral (I disagree), and that an eternity of joy isn’t sufficient without the threat of oblivion, and I can’t agree with that either. I very firmly believe that there is nothing after this. This is it. We get one shot to make our lives and everyone else’s lives as good as possible and then comes that oblivion regardless. That’s terrifying, and sad, but true. And then along comes this show which posits “What if that wasn’t it? What if you could actually be happy after all this?” and it concludes on the note of “Okay, congrats, you’re happy, but you’re still going to be miserable” and that’s just… crushing.

But even all that aside… poor Eleanor. I get that Chidi felt fulfilled, but he then abandons her. And is considered moral for doing that. Yes, he has his own arc, and yes, I get that your happiness can’t be tied intrinsically to the happiness of another, but oof. That was a gut punch. They don’t go off together. Chidi isn’t willing or capable of waiting for her, and again we’re talking about this being wrapped in literally the best place in existence that the writers could think of. There is no happiness for her, she will be alone, and she’s obviously not okay with being alone. Thank heavens there’s a door there to obliterate herself! Gah, it was so sad, but not happy-sad which is what I wanted, just… depressing sad.

But, critically, I’m not saying any of you are wrong. I get it! Your perspectives on The Good Place may be more accurate or valid than mine, but gosh I wanted something clever and punchy and just… joyful, and I just don’t think that’s what I got.

Anyway, upside is that it has killed all desire for me to watch more television for a while. Going to have to sit with this for a bit, try to rekindle some happiness for myself. Then maybe tackle the Book of Boba Fett.

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This will be my only contribution to this spoileriffic The Good Place thread. What I loved about the show is how it kept re-inventing itself, even in the middle of a season. By its nature, discussion without spoilers is impossible. Maybe a new spin-off topic is required.

I get that your happiness can’t be tied intrinsically to the happiness of another, but oof. That was a gut punch. They don’t go off together. Chidi isn’t willing or capable of waiting for her,…

But he did wait for her. Up to a point when it became obvious and untenable.

I thought they made the point very well with Hypatia of Alexandria. Eventually, one becomes numb to paradise. Life has highs and lows. Without the lows, the afterlife becomes monotonous. You can only masturbate to your fantasies for so long until you grow chafed.

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That is an excellent point… @RogerBW, can I possibly trouble you when you have a moment to nab post 1450, 1449, 1448, 1447, and 1446 and spin them into their own thread?

I legit would hate for somebody who hasn’t seen The Good Place yet to have the story spoiled before they have a chance to dive into it! And it will allow us to discuss it without having to put up 4-6 spoilers per post.

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Now that’s this is in own thread, I feel comfortable talking more.

It is unfair to say that everyone “abandoned” Eleanor. Tahani mastered everything she could and moved onto a new role. She found a different path from the other three. Jason was her bud, but he had his own (after)life and ultimately became the silent monk he pretended to be at the beginning.

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That’s quite a chafing image…
Fundamentally, I agree with the show’s premise. Without an end point, and with infinte time, life becomes meaningless and ultimately unenjoyable. I’m not saying that’s a nice thought, but I think it’s true, at least for me. If I consider the alternative of infinite time stretching out ahead of me, that thought ultimately becomes scarier to me than oblivon. Even if you could forget everything that ever happened to experience it all again, with infinite time you’d eventually remember it again, then again and again, on into infinity. There’s nothing and no one you couldn’t be. To me, life would mean nothing because everything you ever did someone else would have already done infinite times, and after some time everything you ever did, you would have already done it.

The existential fear of infinity was brought home to be by a song which is supposed to give me the opposite feeling - the verse in Amazing Grace which goes:

When we’ve bene here ten thousand years
Bright shining like the sun
We’ll have as long to sing God’s praise
As when we first begun

That thought filled me with a vertignious sense of horror that hasn’t quite left me. I rather prefer the idea of oblivion honestly.

Of course, our mileages will all vary with this. But how many sitcoms get us all talking and thinking about this sort of stuff? Or have catchphases like “Everybody hates moral philosphers”?

Thank you, The Good Place

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I think that if, when you die, everything in the universe becomes frozen in time (from your perspective, natch) there might be a valid argument there, @Sexagesimalian.

Tahani decided on an arbitrary length of list and then moved on to do new things. How long will there be new things? As long as there is time. Human scientific advancement is moving at such a pace that there is no way one person will ever manage to keep up to the date with everything. Even if you decided to devote your life to, let’s say, only Quantum Mechanics, by the time you are up-to-the-moment with your understanding, you will be way behind on Thermodynamics or Gravitation or Superstring or whatever… and so you study that until you are up-to-the-moment, and by then you are again out of date with Quantum Mechanics!

Love reading? I assure you that until the heat death of the universe (or mankind’s self-annihilation) there will always be more to read than you have time to read. Always. And if there are people who love writing as much as I do, then there will be new books there too! I could spend several eternities just waiting for Sir Pratchett to finish more books, and read those, and then read the next Scalzi, and then the backlog of Le Guinn… and by the time I finished half of that there will be new, better sci-fi authors out and I can read all the classics again with new appreciation!

Could I do that forever? I mean, nothing ever lasts forever. There is no “infinite” when it comes to time, since it is linked to space and eventually all of this will end in the heat death of the universe, but let’s assume The Good Place is a place? We’re talking tens of thousands of years at least. Hundreds, possibly. And at no point having to worry about food, or sickness…

But now I have to worry about loneliness? What if all my friends up and leave? I’m not ready to go, but now I have to forge new friendships with people I have no existing connection to? Gah. Suddenly I’m in the Bad Place.

I would still argue that Eleanor was abandoned. Yes, Chidi “held on” for a while (hundreds of years? Dozens? Thousands? Some period), but he still decided that leaving Eleanor was a moral choice. He put his needs before those of the woman he loved, and hey, I am all about that sometimes. You can’t be totally selfless without losing all sense of self. But in the literal Good Place, you’d think that one of the infinite number of tweaks would be the ability to choose when you want to go, and not suddenly decide “it’s time” and then, poof, gone.

Gah.

I want to stress again that I’m an atheist. This life, this one, fragile, stupid, terrible life is all I think any of us get, and so thinking about a concept of eternal glory is a nice hypothetical (like, say, discussing if Aragorn could beat Boromir in a sword fight, or if Gandalf could beat up Anakin Skywalker). But it’s flawed at its core, in my opinion, if the best of all possible dimensions ends with a woman terrified of being left alone by everyone who matters to her, who have found meaning through her connection to others, is then abandoned for years (hundreds of years, thousands of years, months, any period of time).

That’s profoundly depressing.

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Any discussion about time is fundamentally Jeremy Bearimy. See also timelike infinities and conformal cyclic cosmology. Fun stuff.

Same here. Tangentially related: I recently contemplated getting a tattoo saying “organ donor” just to make it perfectly clear what my post-death wishes are. … insert comment about meat sacks…

On the other hand, it is her connection to others that allowed her to accept and love them and their journeys and their decisions. She can be happy because they are happy. Eleanor on Earth could never do that.

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I think I remember liking the ending but only in the way that it felt satisfying. I think the whole of S5 (final one) was kind of irritating but I was happy with the send off. I can’t remember the details though

Except I think the whole ending felt human. Like the whole stack of turtles things where the explanation of death is just another lifetime. It’s just another humanity really.

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I enjoyed The Good Place. It was fun to watch a show that discussed various philosophical ideas.

While I thought Jason was a too stupid to live, the truth of the matter is that there are lots of people in this world that count as stupid. I’ll go further than that, we are all stupid, but it is a matter of degree.

As for the ending, if a story is going to end then there are some options. Happy for now, happy ever after, or an acknowledgement that all good things must end. For me, the show did a good job of unpacking those narrative tropes.

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Beautifully put @Paint-it-Pink (And welcome back!)

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Thank you. I just forget that the forum is here, as in active etc.

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Ah remember when we were all worried that this forum would dwindle into obscurity.

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We still have a link off the SU&SD front page (the “two speech balloons” icon) and that is certainly welcome.

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I must be a weird person, because I found the ending a little too clean and saccharine.

First, I thought the reveal that everyone in paradise is bored and miserable was fantastic. I don’t just agree with that premise, but I came to that exact conclusion a long time ago; eternity is way, way longer than anyone can even comprehend, and there simply isn’t a way to keep your humanity for that long. If I were an ant, and took one step every million years, by the time I walked across every inch of the Earth, eternity would still be in its infancy. Why would anything matter at that point? You could live a thousand lives, love a million loves, witness a trillion miracles, and you would still have made no progress towards anything. Every joy you ever experienced would become another boulder to push up a hill. I’ve even had a theory that heaven, if it did exist, would have to exist as the fixed point of an endless regenerative cycle; only by dying and being reborn could you ever find eternal bliss, because you can forget about the experiences you had before…

And, that’s exactly what the show did! The afterlife becomes an iterative process of improvement; you try again and again until you become a good person, then you get to live in paradise for as long as you want, until you chose to go through the door. But… that’s not the Good Place anymore. It doesn’t solve the problem of the afterlife, it just ignores it, tearing the afterlife down and replacing it with “life, but you get to choose when it ends.” And, it tears open the problems that an afterlife without punishment can lead to. You get infinite do-overs! All the people you made miserable will make it to the Good Place eventually, so why does it matter how much suffering you cause in the meantime? If your life on Earth has little bearing on your overall happiness by the end of your time in the Good Place, does that mean life is less important than the afterlife? If so, POSSIBLE TRIGGER WARNING why not commit suicide now, so you can fix yourself quicker and find eternal happiness as quickly as possible?

These are really important questions in the context of life, both from a theistic and atheistic perspective, but The Good Place completely ignores those festering wounds, and focuses on the positivity of “everyone can change if you give them a chance.” Which is a great idea, but when you have infinite chances, you quickly lose the incentive to be good on the first try.

That probably got a little rambly, but in short, I thought the way the Good Place “fixed” itself in the end raises a lot more problems than it solves, but ignores them and pretends like the system is now perfected. I still love the show overall, and it raises a lot of interesting philosophical questions, but I think it tried to hard to provide definite answers to those questions, rather than let them linger.

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The point of this Spoileriffic thread is that you don’t have to hide everything.

Which is a great idea, but when you have infinite chances, you quickly lose the incentive to be good on the first try.

But each individual doesn’t know this. Certainly on your first “real” life, you don’t know the iterative self-improvement nature of the afterlife. During each iteration, the subject may not know of previous iterations or the possibility of future ones. Furthermore, each afterlife is customized for the person. Not everyone will experience the same journey and you can’t make broad generalizations.

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Absolutely agree with your points about infinity here. Don’t want to go on about it but I find the concept of forever not just boring but absolutely terrifying.

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Good to know! :smiley:

It’s true that each person’s journey from life to the Good Place will be different, but the end point is still the same. Importantly, each individual will only have a conscious experience of three lives–their actual life, their final “test” afterlife (in which they will be a fundamentally good person because they have to pass the test), and their Good Place afterlife, because their memory is wiped after every unsuccessful test. Meaning, unless someone is so despicable that they stay in that middle stage forever (which is statistically impossible), they will end this process as a good person, living out their paradise in the Good Place, with a cosmic nanosecond representing their period of immorality. That alone leads to some issues (in particular, whether anyone in the Good Place has free will or is even the same person who died, since their minds and souls have been slowly molded and shaped by the testing process), and while I might take issue with that in a Dostoevskian sense, those are admittedly minor quibbles if you can attain perfect happiness for every human being… but then, if that’s the end goal, in what sense does life matter at all?

The afterlife has seemingly infinite resources, a guaranteed path to moral righteousness and happiness, and can place people on that path without infringing on anyone else’s suffering. So why bother with the life part? Just separate people into their own testing Good Place at birth, raise them into being a good person, then unleash them into the real Good Place and let them live for as long as they want. Allowing any suffering on Earth doesn’t serve any purpose other than “free will”, and trapping people in a never-ending cycle of existential dread until they become better isn’t an improvement on that front, which is how the current system works.

I have way too many thoughts on this, but it boils down to the show wanting to have its cake and eat it too. The final scene makes it very clear that the show cares about people being better while on Earth (what with the sparkling essence of Eleanor showering down on a guy and making him a better person), but the structure of the Good Place at best makes life pointless, and at worst actively incentivizes selfish hedonism. And yet, the show’s message is “people will slowly get better on Earth, and you can be happy in the afterlife, so now the system works!”, which felt very disingenuous.

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