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Theology is not often portrayed in popular culture. Morality may appear, often in the form of a good vs. evil battle (which is often more of a physical battle than a theological one). But what I learned in my seminary classes about Lutheran ethics rarely shows up on screen.
However, The Good Place, a fast-moving comedy about ethics, philosophy, and the afterlife, has taken the content of my Lutheran ethics courses, given it a plot, and paired it with some hilarious jokes about human nature, farts, and pop culture.
Place - Beginning - Show - Multiple - Plot
I have enjoyed The Good Place since the beginning. The show is serial, rather than episodic, meaning the multiple plot twists and turns keep us on the edge of our seat. It’s structured like a drama, in the style of Breaking Bad or How to Get Away with Murder, but continues to keep you laughing at and cheering for the characters.
MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD. IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE GOOD PLACE, START AT SEASON ONE. IT’S AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX. GO THERE NOW.
Premise - Show - Eleanor - Kristen - Bell
The premise of the show is that Eleanor (Kristen Bell) finds herself in heaven or “The Good Place,” because of the extraordinarily good things she did in her life — except she didn’t do any of the amazing things she’s being given credit for.
Eleanor first tries to conceal her true identity, while convincing her fellow recently-deceased soulmate, Chidi (William Jackson Harper), to teach her to be a good enough person to stay in the good place. Chidi is a professor of moral ethics from Senagal, providing a great device to explain what strand of philosophy will be explored in each episode. Over the course of the first two seasons, Chidi lays out the arguments of several philosophers (Aristotle, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Kant are all referenced) and ethical dilemmas (a whole episode explores “the trolley...
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