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TV Series Review: The Good Place Season 4

Disclaimer: Whilst this blog post will cover the entirety of the season, this review will have a heavy focus on the finale, so there may be some slight spoilers for those who have not caught up with the show.

The Good Place is a fantasy sitcom released by NBC for the past four seasons. As of 2019, it was announced that season four would be the final season for The Good Place, choosing to end it earlier than what NBC would keep it for in order to have a satisfactory story arc and not drag on the show for too long. Created by Michael Schur, this season keeps all of the main cast, including Kristen Bell, Jameela Jamil, William Jackson Harper, Manny Jacinto, D’Arcy Carden and Ted Dansen. The crew are tasked with proving that the points system on Earth is flawed and that humans are able to improve, even with the demons constantly trying to sabotage them.

The Good Place (season four) – source: NBC

One of the selling points of The Good Place, as opposed to other sitcoms of this past decade, is the more narrative-focused plot. It is unusual to see a sitcom take place in a fantasy world, and yet it works magically here. The situations that the characters find themselves in lead to some great moments of conflict, and this is still true to this season. Whilst it does take one or two episodes to grasp at what this final season is trying to achieve, I really enjoyed the concept of the group having to prove that the system they have been stuck in for the entire show is flawed. It not only gives the characters a goal to reach, but a great excuse to be back in the beloved fake Good Place.

Out of every season, this final one had the most development of all of the main characters. This is helped by all of the performances given by the cast, from the leads to the supporting roles. The stand out for me this season, surprisingly, ended up being Manny Jacinto as Jason, the character that seemed to have the least development throughout the entire show. It is easy to write him off as a punchline or easy target for the sake of humour, but Jason actually had some great pieces of dialogue this season. He starts to come through in moments of dilemma, having some of the smartest revolutions in the entire group, something which only seemed to mature in the writing in the past year. I appreciated that the team found a way to keep his dumb loving self stick, but add some important moments of development to his story at the same time.

Not only are the main cast extremely lovable and joyous to watch, but the supporting roles and now members are also incredibly strong all around. Do I need to say anything about Maya Rudolph and her incredible comedic timing, as she proves over and over again in everything that she does? It is the new test subjects though that end up making the start of the final season so entertaining to watch, with a favourite of mine being Brandon Scott Jones playing an over-the-top gossip journalist, chosen in particular to target and annoy Tahani. This not only added some extra pop culture to this fantasy show, grounding the time this place is set in and making for relevant humour, but was also great to see those two particular characters bounce off of each other. There is a huge sitcom star that comes into the last two episodes of the season which was a great surprise, but they were also cast incredibly well.

The Good Place (season four) – source: NBC

Due to the fantasy setting of The Good Place, it is clear that the visual appeal of the show has always been a key factor. This show is stunning to watch in so many aspects. The costume choices are well fitted to each character, especially wondering what gorgeous dress Tahani will decide to wear next. There are some CGI choices used that are extremely bold but help create a fantastical sense to the film. Whilst some of the work could have been tightened up on the CGI, such as the elephant in the first episode, they do not have an unlimited budget and it looked really good for a TV series like this. It is, however, the production design that truly captures the spirit of the show. From the colour palette and lighting of the locations to the design of the fake Good Place that creates that special magic to the show unlike any other sitcom I have seen.

Each episode in this series is strong, but one particular episode I want to highlight is Episode Eight: “The Funeral to End All Funerals”. After seven heavy episodes of a plot building up the end of the trial to prove that the points system is flawed, this was a simpler episode yet still incredibly important to the overall story and the entire season. This episode felt truly personal to the characters and gave them a moment to slow down and showcase their relationships and highlight how far they have come in the four seasons.

A majority of sitcoms seem to have some amount of filler episodes, which are great for comedy but not for the development of a story or an overall season. With only 13 episodes per season, The Good Place doesn’t have that luxury of having a chance to include filler episodes without affecting the narrative. However, it does not need to as every single episode in this final season felt important to the narrative and the overall journey. The shorter runtime, only an average of 20 minutes per episode, goes by so quickly yet so much story is able to fit in this format.

The Good Place (season four) – source: NBC
There is a change to that runtime in the finale, which ends up lasting a total of 52 minutes for the main episode. This felt necessary though as there is so much to wrap up in this one single episode. The main goal of the season is completed a few episodes before this finale, so the writers decide to slow down and let the characters take the forefront in the end of this final season. This is important because it gives the audience a sense of closure, and it completely makes sense watching this series why the showrunners did not want to drag this show any further, even by another season. This felt like the perfect place to end this story, not dragged on and not rushed.
The finale has a different tone to the rest of the season, one of peace and tranquillity, but it fits perfectly with the narrative and the overall story of the episode. The themes of life and being satisfied and happy with yourself are fully realised and closed beautifully in this 52-minute runtime. Each character gets their closing moments, and there are still some surprises at to where some characters end up by the end of the film. Even with the surprises and touching moments, every single decision made by the characters make total sense to their separate arcs and it is lovely to see where the writers took each element of this show to a close.
The Good Place (season four) – source: NBC

Whilst most sitcoms are known to struggle to reach their finale and tie everything up nicely (I’m looking at you, How I Met Your Mother), I appreciate the fact that the team behind The Good Place had a clear path and didn’t want to sacrifice the story for the sake of a few extra seasons. This felt like the perfect goodbye for a show like this, and whilst I may not be ready to say my goodbye and have no more episodes of this hilarious yet beautiful show to watch, it came at the right time and in the right manner.

What were your thoughts on the final season of The Good Place? Did the final episode hit you as much as it hit me? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section and let’s have a discussion.

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