Emmy spotlight: ‘The Good Place’ deserves heavenly reception for stellar second season

The Good Place” is one of the most underrated “forking” comedies on television, and its diehard fanbase is often singing its praises to the heavens. NBC’s Best Comedy Series Emmy contender, starring Kristen Bell as Eleanor, a woman who believes she was mistakenly sent to “the good place” after her death, is one of the most clever sitcoms on television that continues to shock and amaze its viewers. The show’s first two seasons have featured whip-smart storytelling, belly laughs, and a cast that keeps getting better and better. With this year’s comedy races at the Emmys being more wide open than ever before, “The Good Place” has a chance of finally getting the recognition it deserves.

“The Good Place” kicked off in 2016 as a story about a woman who represses her selfish behavior in order to stay in the show’s version of heaven,  but since then, the series has expanded its universe so much in just two seasons and burned through so many plot points that it could even make “Scandal” blush. In the first season, Eleanor meets and forms a bond with Chidi (William Jackson Harper), an ethics professor, Tahani (Jameela Jamil), a posh philanthropist, and Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto), a DJ, all of whom deal with Michael (Ted Danson), the “good place” architect and his robotic assistant, Janet (D’Arcy Carden). As the season moves along, we and the rest of the characters begin to realize the true nature of their reality, resulting in a mind-melting Season 1 finale twist.

After an ending critics were calling “masterful,” “hugely satisfying,” and a twist that “takes the show from very good to straight-up great,” there was enormous expectation for how “The Good Place” writers were going to continue this story. Where other shows might dwell on the aftermath of its twist for long stretches of episodes, “The Good Place” runs through its plot very quickly in the first few episodes of Season 2 and ultimately becomes about the gang teaming up with Michael and Janet to escape to a different place, all the while grappling with the law of ethics and their reality. If all this sounds more like “Lost” or “Westworld” than “Friends” or “Frasier,” you may not be wrong. But what makes “The Good Place” so brilliant is in its unlikely blending of two TV genres that aren’t often paired together, providing genuine laughter and heart amid the turmoil that plagues its characters.

The show’s writers have not only created a compelling mystery but also mastered the individual characters at the heart of the show. From Eleanor’s slips into selfishness to Chidi grappling with ethical dilemmas to Janet’s absurdly cheery line delivery, there is a strong sense of characterization after just two seasons. This is especially true when all seven main characters are bouncing off each other, where Danson, Carden and Jacinto often provide the biggest laugh-out-loud moments. The second season has also seen Danson developing one of the most idiosyncratic characters of his career, playing Michael as a Machiavellian figure but also innately curious, an alien creature of sorts who is fascinated by human nature. It’s no wonder the Critics’ Choice Awards gave Danson their Best Comedy Actor prize earlier in 2018.

The Emmys ignored “The Good Place” after its first season last year, but that was likely before many voters became aware of the show’s existence and reputation as one of TV’s finest comedies. The sitcom began streaming its first season on Netflix last September, allowing many viewers to catch up and fall in love with the show. Since then, “The Good Place” was named one of American Film Institute’s (AFI) Top 10 shows of 2017 and was even nominated for a Peabody Award this year. Now, the Emmys have a perfect opportunity to embrace “The Good Place” for its stellar second season, especially with shows like “Veep” and “Master of None” out of the running. After all, it took “Will & Grace” two seasons to be truly embraced by the Emmys, and three seasons for “Everybody Loves Raymond,” so there is still hope for “The Good Place” to make a big forking splash at the Emmys.

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on July 12. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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