Saying goodbye to your favorite television show can be difficult. The special attachment with characters and the connection with the show’s universe inevitably builds up to an overwhelming season finale. Now, millions of watchers of The Good Place are preparing to say goodbye to the beloved tale after the writers announced the release of the fourth and final season.
First airing in 2016, The Good Place stole the hearts of viewers through its hilarious jokes and insightful connections to moral philosophy. The comedy follows Eleanor Shellstrop, played by Kristen Bell, who was mistakenly placed into “The Good Place” — a highly-selective utopia that grants its inhabitants with eternal happiness in the afterlife. Residents in this world are chosen based on whether they led righteous lives on Earth, determined by the positive or negative point values that each of their actions are assigned. As a drug sales associate who took advantage of the elderly due to her traumatic childhood, Eleanor quickly realizes she actually belongs in the Bad Place. With the help of her neighbors Tahani, regarded as an intelligent and brilliant hostess, Jianyu, a monk, and Chidi, a former ethics professor, Eleanor must hide her flawed behavior and learn to become an ethically responsible person.
Many popular American sitcoms satisfy millions of viewers as episodes continue to be released over many seasons. With continuous plot twists and follies, episodes are extended to an infinite timeline of material fit for public consumption. Series that appeal to a large audience and support positive ratings are often extended by television networks. With over 3 million weekly viewers on NBC alone, The Good Place sustains favorable ratings by both critics as well as viewers. At the end of season 2, the show blew up among critics with an astounding 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Treasured among the general audience, the number of viewers on Netflix and NBC have grown over the seasons.
Despite the remarkable ratings for The Good Place, the writers decided to cement only four seasons with a plot specific to the story they wanted to tell. Several shows on networks, such as CBS, have an extensive list of longest-running scripted U.S. television shows, despite declining reviews. Fortunately, NBC and Universal TV allowed the writers to plan an unforgettable conclusion to the great show. “I think it’s best for the show’s sake that it goes out on its own terms so that the series has a better ending and is more interesting,” said Sydney Siskind ’23, “Dragging it out would only decrease the quality of the show and make it less special.”
At the beginning of Season 2, writers of The Good Place began to map out how the rest of the show would unravel. Filled with lessons in moral dilemmas and how individuals behave when confronted with personal problems, Michael Schur did not want to let the masterpiece become inconsequential. From a Twitter post on the official “The Good Place” page announcing the final season of the series, “We’ve been tempted to go beyond four seasons, but mostly because making this show is a rare, creatively fulfilling joy, and at the end of the day, we don’t want to tread water just because the water is so warm and pleasant.”
“Although I would love for the show to continue as we see each character’s development, I agree that the creators shouldn’t drag on the show,” said Alina Chan ’21. “Adding to the show distracts the viewers from the main focus and goal, which leaves the show a mess. By keeping it sweet and short, there won’t be an opportunity for the writers to ruin the show and thus our opinion about it.”
“Dragging it out would only decrease the quality of the show and make it less special,” said Sydney Siskind ’23.
Tackling topics of ethics, the afterlife, and philosophy, The Good Place cast will be dearly missed. Even the most skeptical viewer can pull a lesson or two from the series. On the main character Eleanor, Sydney Siskind said, “The fact that she is such a below-average person and can still grow and be good — it gives you hope for humanity in a way. It shows that no matter the person you are, you can still improve and better the world.”
The comedic storyline and lessons in ethical principles foster a tight-knit community of fans passionate about the show. “We ask the question very frequently, on this show, what do we owe to each other? The answer, for me, is: I owe all of you a whole lot,” said Schur. With all the meaningful ideas Schur wants to present set in stone, hopefully he will leave the story in a good place.