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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Despite lasting a mere four seasons, “The Good Place” waved goodbye to their four humans while shaping the future of creative control in television programming. 

Next Stop, ‘The Good Place:’ One revolutionary trip on Jeremy Bearimy

Yes, it’s true. It’s already been a week since we bid a finale farewell to “The Good Place.” But no, I haven’t stopped the warm, gooey feeling in my heart or the tears falling from my eyes. 

And that’s why it was the perfect time to say goodbye. 

“The Good Place” tells one of the greatest fifty-three part narratives seen on TV, centering the focus on the million-dollar question of what comes after death? Within this premise, creator Michael Schur creates a comedic world surrounding four deeply flawed humans, a genderless knowledge bank and a demon fire squid navigate the metaphorical spaces of existence while facing larger questions of morality and identity. 

In fact, there’s a singular question Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper) asks at the end of season two the storytelling can continuously be tied back to: What do we owe each other?

The final episode documents the decision of each of the four humans to leave ‘the Good Place’ for all of eternity, out of the thread of existence. Their departures take place in a beautiful, vast forest — connecting the natural end of life to the natural end of the show. 

The process is singular and special for each — Michael’s road to humanity, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) becoming an architect, Jason (Manny Jacinto) finally bringing Blake Bortles to victory and Eleanor letting Chidi go and finding her purpose. It shows that the writers spent the most time on the development of Eleanor (Kristen Bell) and Michael’s (Ted Danson), and it’s redeemed quite well. 

Michael longs to be a human — a far cry from his torturous motives as a Bad Place architect. Throughout the series, he grows to connect with the thing he detests most to the point where he wishes to live out the same experiences. His longing to make mistakes and form kinship shows how humanity isn’t rooted in autonomy, it can be found within the soul. 

The other storyline that wrapped up perfectly was found in Chidi and Eleanor’s final goodbye. Eleanor, who was grounded in her selfishness throughout the series, is tasked with her hardest challenge yet: letting Chidi go.

She reverts back into her old habits, showing Chidi all the amazing places worth staying for and persuading him with her sadness. He folds, because, well, he’s Chidi, but she realizes her mistake. She was selfish, not thinking of what he wants over her needs, ultimately agreeing she owes it to him to let him go.  

The finale represented the continuous growth throughout life, how people change and that life is movable. It wrapped it up perfectly without adding any absolutes to the future of the show — and to life after death. 

The endless collection of roots along Jeremy Bearimy explores a world where mistakes are endless and erasable, unlike humanity, while representing that folx have the ability to change as they learn. Whether the viewer wants to believe this notion, it’s compelling and creative nonetheless. 

“The Good Place” is, in a word, relatable. It portrays humans being humans. We are disgusting and dishonest and deeply flawed. Shows do not need a moral value to be successful; however, if they walk down that path, they need to allow room for the characters to change. And, of course, our favorite six-piece crew does just that. 

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To be honest, my tears didn’t come until watching the cast’s round of toasts celebrating their time together on and offscreen while sitting down on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” and that’s when it hit me just how important the show was to viewers and actors, as well as programming as a whole. 

The development of “The Good Place” is revolutionary in the larger scheme of producing television programs. Schur is a seasoned producer; his name is attached to series’ like “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” All of those shows are long-running with notable actors leading the way — and extremely successful. 

Essentially, “The Good Place” had the means and ability to run for nine seasons, 22 episodes a piece and a perfect primetime slot. 

Yet season four was announced as the last, and the seasons never ran for more than 13 episodes at a time. 

To me, a TV network nerd, it showed the ability of creators to take control of their narratives and avoid the profit-to-loss numbers game of streaming services and primetime networks. It showed how malleable tv shows are becoming. Moreso, it showed the ability for creators to explore the story they pitched — and not overstay their welcome.

To be honest, I love when a series’ life is short and sweet — more fittingly for “The Good Place” than any other — and when it ends on the creators terms. 

Dan Levy, lead and creator of “Schitt’s Creek” was going to wrap the show with season five, but got a renewal for a sixth and decided to wrap everything up. I’m sure PopTV would have been happy to produce two, three more seasons, but it was more fitting — and natural — to end the show where it is now. 

While there are logistics that go into why this freedom is available — an active fanbase, acting credibility, fiscal means — the important thing about creators having the freedom to say when a show can end, especially when it’s peaking in success, allows them to keep the creative identity intact. 

And although it’s hard to say goodbye, I enjoy the happy-sad feeling of letting these shows go knowing the minds behind them have completed the narratives they desired to — and I hope more shows have the opportunity. 

Till then, take it sleazy. 

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