When my friend recommended "The Good Place" to me, I was a little skeptical, as I am with any television show.
Not only do I have an extremely short attention span, but I hate watching anything suspenseful, dark, thrilling, or scary. Call me shallow, but I pretty much only enjoy watching shows and movies that are lighthearted, funny, and feel-good (with a select few exceptions).
"The Good Place" checks all those categories: lighthearted, funny, and feel-good.
What I didn't expect is how the show offers so many meaningful takeaways and important lessons that you can apply to your everyday life. Watching this show makes me think about what it truly means to be a good person and how it's never too late to change yourself for the better.
Without revealing any spoilers or twists, I'm going to give you a very brief run-down of the plot: After you die, there isn't the traditional "Heaven or Hell" afterlife, but rather a "Good Place" and a "Bad Place." Everything you do while you're alive on Earth is given a good score or a bad score. You thought nobody was watching? Actually, the Universe was keeping score the whole time.
Eleanor Shellstrop ends up in the "Good Place," but there was a mistake. She doesn't belong there. She was actually a really self-absorbed, dishonest, and cruel person on Earth and somehow her score got mixed up with someone else's.
She realizes that her only option is to learn how to be a good person so she can blend in with everyone in the "Good Place," and she absolutely does not relate to or think anything like the people around her. She teams up with a guy who was an ethics professor to learn about what it means to be "good."
While Eleanor is getting "good person" lessons, studying the basic principles of philosophy and ethics, and reflecting on her poor life choices on Earth, I'm having my own coming-to-Jesus moments while watching. Maybe I'm not as "bad" of a person as Eleanor is, but I've made plenty of decisions that I'm not exactly proud of.
I've made selfish choices, blamed others for my decisions instead of admitting my wrongdoings, and I haven't exactly been what you would call "pure and chaste" every day of my life. And who has? Nobody's perfect.
But this show has taught me that you shouldn't disregard making the right choice even when you think nobody is watching.
One of the many scenes that stood out to me was when Eleanor was talking about why she was starting to like being a good person. She started off by saying: "I mean, whenever I would do something crappy on Earth, there would be a little tiny voice in the back of my head that would say, 'Eleanor, don't grab that handful of olives from the salad bar. You know, you didn't pay for that,' or 'Eleanor, don't spit those olive pits onto the floor of the grocery store. That's not cool.' Or 'Eleanor, that old man just slipped on your olive pit, and he fell down. Don't use the fact that everyone's distracted to go back and steal more olives.'"
She then goes on to say that even though she might not necessarily get a reward for being good, she still enjoys the feeling of not having to ignore that pesky voice (her conscious) reminding her of what's right and what's wrong.
She realizes that simply making the effort to be a good person is half the battle and not having bad things weighing on your conscience is worth the fight.
I completely related to this. Even if nobody knows that you did a bad thing, you ultimately still have to live with your decisions and they do weigh on you whether you realize it or not. You might not get a golden plaque or even any appreciation or recognition at all, but having good character means doing good things and making the right choices even when nobody is watching.
Another episode that resonated with me was when Eleanor was trying to get more "good points" by opening doors for other people, buying gifts for others, baking cookies, etc. Despite all of her good deeds, her score wasn't going up. She eventually figured out that she wasn't getting any points because her intentions weren't pure. She realized that doing good deeds for a selfish means to an end isn't as good as doing them just for the sake of making others happy and being a good person just because.
Intentions mean everything. You might not always say or do the right thing but it's important that your heart is ultimately in the right place. People make mistakes, but how do you learn from them? How do you grow? Do you do a good deed just to make yourself look good in front of others, or do you do it to genuinely make somebody else happy?
Being a genuine person means what you do on the outside and what you think on the inside are in alignment. Even "fake" being nice isn't being nice at all.
I could go on and on about how this "cute" little show ended up being so meaningful to me in many ways. Every episode, I had some kind of self-realization about how I could be making better choices and be less selfish. Even if there's no "Good Place" or "Bad Place" and nobody is keeping score, it's true that you sleep better at the end of the day just knowing that you're not an asshole.
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