Review: The Good Place (Season 4)

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Forking Brilliant.

The final season of The Good Place showcases a satisfying end to a wonderful show.

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In a world of shows outstaying their welcome, The Good Place Season 4 is practically a masterclass in how to satisfyingly end a show without the slightest drop in quality. 

Season 4 of The Good Place breathes new life into television, particularly the sitcom genre to which it arguably excels: now battling to improve the afterlife system, questioning what makes a ‘good person’ or even a ‘good place’ is a fantastic step-up from Season 1’s sole focus on Team Cockroach. The decision by show-creator Michael Schur to conclude the show now consequently allows this increasingly expansive quest for a just afterlife to reach a logical yet satisfying conclusion: in a show essentially about people, character arcs are the priority in this season and they do not disappoint.

Known for quirky comedy Parks and Recreation and The Office US which had their fair share of wacky seasons, Michael Schur’s comedic surrealism is let loose throughout The Good Place, this season in particular reaching new levels as the team set about proving humans are capable of change with subjects that could destroy the experiment. Needless to say, chaos surrounds our humans as usual. However, in true Schur fashion the disasters ran into along the way often elevated the strangely uplifting humour in a situation most would not cope with. The contrast between the continuous obstacles in the experiment along with the team battling their own flaws kept this season grounded with its aim clearly in sight: entering this season aware it is the last, the show understands we ultimately care what happens to the team.  Toeing the line between wackiness and heartfelt moments, therefore, left a particularly bittersweet aftertaste as it is fully realised that we will see these characters’ high and low points for the final time.

Of course, Kristen Bell must be credited for her fantastic performance this season, her ability to switch between Eleanor’s typical edgy quips to her more vulnerable self bringing to the forefront this season’s successful task in depicting Eleanor’s battle with her confidence in leading and helping others. Ted Danson as Michael is also a highlight throughout the season, his maintenance of an air of superiority only suitable for an eternal demon yet increasing morality officially cementing him as part of the team. In fact, everyone in the main cast is given their time in the spotlight, the seamless exploration and care of each arc being a testament to Schur and the writers’ awareness of when it is time to stop before creative exhaustion hits, which unfortunately has been the case for many a show. Watching our humans face head-on their literally fatal flaws while using their own strengths to help others is an ingenious way of concluding the both funniest and most heartfelt philosophical ride in modern television.

While critics have argued that The Good Place never escaped their groundbreaking Season 1 twist, Season 4 reinforces the show as a deep exploration of what it means to be fundamentally good rather than relying on twists, despite still having plenty. The contrasting feeling of leaving with both existential uncertainty and security perfectly sums up the beautiful message of the show: it is not the conclusion of the afterlife that defines existence, but the confusing concept of mortality, the choices we make along the way and the people we choose to embark on this absurd journey with us. Season 4 has certainly ensured that The Good Place will go down in history as a forking good show.

All seasons of The Good Place are avaliable to watch on Netflix now. 

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2nd year English and Film minor student and Film Sub-Editor 2020/21. Loves the cinema, hates the people.

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