The Good Place Season 4 Review: Insightful, entertaining, and fun, for the most part
Despite all the philosophical goodness, what makes The Good Place a fun watch is its satirical tone
On Episode 1 of The Good Place, I wondered how the creators managed to stretch a seemingly flimsy premise to three full seasons. But with each passing episode, the series consistently metamorphosed into something bigger, grander and yet, increasingly rooted in its humane values. The best thing about The Good Place is that it is relatable and has normal, flawed people at the centre, just trying to be better. The new season is no different. Humanity is at stake, and it is up to four normal human beings, one demon and a ‘not-a-girl’ Janet to save it.
Second chances have always been the cornerstone of The Good Place. This show brims with “this insane hope that people are worth the trouble,” as a character observes. And the final season is our motley of humans and demons proving it to the supernatural world. As always, there is a healthy dose of ethics and philosophy. Kant, Aristotle, and many other philosophers make their regular appearances. If the previous seasons were about Eleanor (Kirsten Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and Jason (Manny Jacinto), this season is them trying to recreate the effects with three new subjects, who come in with their set of flaws.
Creator: Michael Schur
Cast: Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamill, D'Arcy Carden, Manny Jacinto,
Streaming on: Netflix
Despite all the philosophical goodness, what makes The Good Place a fun watch is its satirical tone. The series takes a dig at almost everything, from its own characters to things in the real world. For example, the all-knowing Judge for the universe is addicted to pop-culture. (Now, isn’t that something we can relate to?) There’s a jab about Instagram being an ‘inspirational lie’, and a ‘social media CEO’ being one of the stages of becoming a demon. (There is even an unintentional Tamil reference:one of the episodes is named Chillaxing!) It is the intelligent, sharp writing aided by exuberant performances that makes this season entertaining.
In a way, the series is reflective of how ‘final’ things in the human-land feel right now, especially with the Internet and the concept of ‘calling out’. (At one point, Earth is cancelled.) With every moment of our lives being documented online, where is the space to evolve? No wonder, there is a performative wokeness section in The Bad Place. And I love how the series never judges its characters for their human flaws. It calls out Tahani for vanity, but doesn’t criminalise her. Jason might be simple, but he expresses the most profound thoughts. Even Brent, a privileged sexist jerk, is not written off as beyond redemption. But his problematic behaviour is reprimanded. Demons find redemption, and everyone learns off each other — even the all-knowing Janet.
The show touches on several existential themes, and as always, transforms unrecognisably over the 13 episodes. But to see all the redemption, evolution and humanity is heartening. The season might dip in energy during the middle, but that bittersweet finale more than makes up for it.
Through all the shirts and forks, the series reminds us that The Good Place is time with people you love; there is joy in being humane, trying to be the best version of ourselves. It also reminds us that ‘mortality offers meaning to events of our lives, morality helps us navigate that meaning’. I guess all good things have to end, but I am glad it was memorable.