Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens
—Talking Heads, “Heaven”
Everything good must come to an end in order to be meaningful. That’s the message at the center of The Good Place, the afterlife comedy that ended last week after four seasons and 52 hilarious, philosophically enriching episodes.
Whereas Jean-Paul Sartre declared in his play No Exit that “hell is other people,” The Good Place proposed that heaven is other people; the loving friendships of the “Soul Squad” were genuinely salvific for the entirety of humanity. What began as an experiment in hell by the demonic architect Michael (Ted Danson) on four unsuspecting humans—the sinfully spunky Eleanor (Kristen Bell), moral philosophy professor Chidi (William Jackson Harper), aristocratic philanthropist Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and Floridian doofus Jason (Manny Jacinto)—concludes with a poignant and provocative solution to the problem of an eternal afterlife: death itself.
In the penultimate episode, “Patty,” the Soul Squad finally made it to the actual Good Place, only to discover that everyone there was languishing with boredom (there’s always a twist in this show, isn’t there?). So Eleanor offers a solution: They create the option to leave the Good Place through a door which leads to … well, that’s unclear, but most likely a peaceful transition into oblivion. In other words, they propose death as the solution to eternal life. The idea is met with ecstatic cheers by the Good Place residents.
So, instead of Sartre’s “no exit,” the sitcom’s finale, “Whenever You’re Ready,” is more like, “Yes, one exit, please.” ...1
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