You read (well you should’ve) my laudatory review of the first season of Michael Schur’s latest hit television series, The Good Place. Now, we are back as the finale of the 12-episode (which is one episode shorter than the previous) second season aired just yesterday. And to be honest, I had no idea that was the finale until I came across an article just now and realized that meant it was time for a new review!
And that’s the problem I had with it. I shouldn’t have to be told that was the finale to know, right?
The second season started off with a whirlwind and continued to whirl chaotically out of control up to the very end. While it maintained a lot of what made the first season good, including the witty dialogue and lighthearted tone of the show, I have to be frank by saying that it lost a good amount of the charm, as well.
While the first season was an amazing roller coaster ride of ups and downs, it was on a set course. In the second season, this roller coaster had no sense of identity or purpose, chaotically meandering, doing loop-de-loops, transforming into another ride altogether, and sliding into a stop that was rather anti-climactic because there were so many moments I felt could have set off a new season already, so by the end, I was numb to any change in story line. It was like the writing team got together, brainstormed a couple of different directions it could go on right away or eventually, and decided, “Why not? Let’s do it all now!”
The pacing of The Good Place was really all over the place this time around. There were about five different arcs that were squeezed into a 12-episode season that I felt could have stood alone as their own seasons, drawing out the life span of The Good Place overall. But no, it kept barreling on like a trolley with no brakes. This was the biggest problem I had with this season. There was no one arc or theme that it could focus on.
(**Spoiler**) The arcs go: their first ever reboot (one episode); them becoming Team Cockroach and learning to work together (majority of the season); them deciding to go through the Bad Place to get to the judge (only one episode!); them being judged by delightful guest star Maya Rudolph who also appeared on another show produced by Michael Schur that I love, Brooklyn Nine-nine (two episodes); and them being given their “lives” back essentially (final episode). These really could have been stretched out for longer than only one season. Everything felt disjointed, like they squished at least three seasons into one.
Onto the next point, I loved the first season for the diverse cast and immensely entertaining characters. Remember how I said Tahani was my favorite? Well, I demand justice for Tahani. Although her character is undergoing great development in the series, the part of her personality that made her so fun has been essentially obliterated–well, not even so dramatically like that. That part just sort of… faded and blended in with the shadows in the background. There were no moments for actress Jameela Jamil to really shine. I didn’t have a favorite character anymore. My problem last time was picking just one when I loved all of them. My problem this time was… not wanting to pick one because they were all… okay…
The same thing that happened to Tahani happened to Jason, actually. Although he was his typical lovable yet idiotic self, he was used as comic relief that was forced in there at odd times for the sake of actor Manny Jacinto getting lines and screen time (he’s great at improv, by the way–watch the season one gag reel). Even Chidi was put on the sidelines a bit, used as the foil to everyone else’s out-there nature. He’s the reasonable one, and that’s all he really becomes. He used to be Eleanor’s partner in crime, but that’s not his job anymore. Not to mention, I need more Vicky! Actress Tiya Sircar was such a joy to watch. She adapted very fluidly to whatever the show demanded of her, but she wasn’t used as much as I would have liked (to be fair, this could be because she’s working on a new show, Alex, Inc., which is on my watch list because it also stars Zach Braff, and I’ve been enjoying Scrubs–yeah, yeah, I know I’m late).
The focus shifted immensely onto Eleanor and Michael and their relationship. Which is great. I love their growing friendship and all of that, and this isn’t to say the other characters were completely neglected (they get plenty of side stories), but regardless of screen time, there is a definite shift in focus. Move aside Chidi! Now Michael is Eleanor’s bestie and partner in crime. Of course Kristen Bell and Ted Danson were always the stars of the show since I believe they were cast first and knew how the prior season was going to end when no one else did, but each character was still distinctive enough to shine alone. Now it seems blatantly clear who the leads are. This could be because out of all of them, Eleanor, Michael, and maybe Janet have changed the most (possibly because the first two were the worst ones and Janet was an unfeeling not-a-robot). The other three are mostly the same.
Although it seems like I had a lot of problems with the season, I, for the most part, enjoyed it for the same reasons I enjoyed the first season. There were many laugh-out-loud moments and favorite episodes I’ve already re-watched like five times. I just couldn’t enjoy it as much, which is why this came off more as a rant than a rave (but really, I’ll still rave about the series as whole to other people). I think the first half was better than the second half, and if you want to know more about what worked for me and what was missing from this latest season, you can check out the review for the first season (linked above).
Meanwhile, The Good Place is set for a third season, and I shall eagerly wait for it by re-watching the first two when I miss it too much. Leave your own thoughts below!