One doesn’t usually think the words religion, death, and sitcom can go together, but Kristen Bell’s new show, The Good Place, is an unusual combination of these themes that seems to work. The show airs on NBC and runs for approximately 42 minutes every Thursday, with the pilot episode having premiered this fall. The show is about Eleanor (Kristen Bell), who died via shopping cart trampling, and her sudden journey within the afterlife, which is later discovered to be under false pretenses.
When seeing previews for the show, I really wondered how the show would handle such a seemingly delicate topic such as religion and the afterlife, but after watching the pilot, the focus seems to be more towards the later. The only religious thing really mentioned in the pilot is The Good Place vs. The Bad Place and the fact that Kristen Bell’s character is now in the good place. The show seems to lean on the idea of “doing good” in order to become a better person, which leads to the concept of ethics weighing heavily in the series, but why not take it a step further and talk about the fact that she’s in an afterlife?? There is a brief mention in the initial dialogue of the show, about how all the religions of the world got it wrong, but that’s all the viewer hears of religion. I understand the sitcom is suppose to be funny and religion is a touchy subject, but it would be fascinating to see the show really dive into a comedic commentary/satire about religious values and even more so about religious culture. Why not be bold? or is there an unspoken rule that religion is a subject that can’t be touched?
Screenshot: The Good Place– Pilot
I have yet to watch the rest of the season, but am very intrigued. I hope the show is bold, but I have a feeling it will just scratch the surface. (it is on NBC after all) :)