Notes: NBC's The Good Place, which ran from 2016 to 2020, is one of my all-time favorite shows. It's deeply engaging, funny, and touching. The characters are beautifully written and fleshed out, and the plot is tight, easy to follow, and, I'm sure, widely appealing.
That said, the show was, foundationally, plagued by a profound cynicism that came to a jarring head at the series' concluding episode, one that apparently negatively affected many people, some seriously. I can understand why. I was spared that negativity by an act of rebellion deep, deep inside myself, one that I didn't consciously inspire. It gifted me a different way of interpreting the ending.
My wife, Kye, wasn't so lucky. For weeks afterward, she groused about the ending. We often ended up in deep philosophical discussions regarding it.
Part of the show's writing team included two philosophers, both materialists. Materialists don't believe in an afterlife. Materialists don't believe in the soul, or the self, or God. They don't believe consciousness exists. Some even want the word "imagination" outlawed. I wish I was making this up, but I'm not.
What the hell, you might ask, pun entirely intended, were materialists doing on a show about the afterlife? That's a great question. Their presence, as well as, I'm sure, the underlying philosophies of the actual writing staff, came into shocking relief with the series' conclusion.
Well, says I, I'm not going to just sit here and let a bunch of materialists tell me how things are! No sir! Hence the fan fiction, which starts below and runs ... I have no idea how many chapters it's going to run. I just know I'm going to have a great deal of fun writing and editing it. It's going to be my fictional answer (here's my non-fictional answer) to that sad and, let's be honest, pathetic ending.
I hope you enjoy it.
Synopsis: Eleanor Shellstrop is supposed to be dead. No, doubly dead. She died on Earth, went to what she was told was the Good Place, went through all sorts of bullshirt with her new friends as they found out it wasn't the Good Place but the Bad Place, and finally got admitted into the real Good Place. Except it wasn't. Again.
Long story short, there is a door in the Good Place, one which, if walked through, will dissolve you from reality forever. The Oblivion Door. One by one, her friends and her lover, Chidi, walked through it. So did she.
But she isn't dead.
Holy motherforking shirtballs!
A Metaphysical Corkflork
My name is Eleanor Shellstrop. I’m thirty-eight years old. Or ... I was thirty-eight. But I died. Back on Earth.
I mean, of course, right?
But that was a long time ago. But then ... not really. Jeremy Bearimy, and all that. Whatever. Keep up and I’ll explain.
I died, and I went to the Good Place, what you might think of as Heaven. But it wasn’t really the Good Place. It was the Bad Place—Hell. Michael, a demon, had brought me and three others there so he could psychologically torture us for eternity. Or rather, have us torture each other. But we kept figuring out what was going on, and he kept erasing our memories and “rebooting” us and trying again. That went on for a long time. Something like three hundred years “passed” on Earth. But ... well, Jeremy Bearimy. Like I said, I’ll explain. Eventually. Promise.
Confused? I was. I’ll do what I can to help clear it up for you.
Long story short, I didn’t belong in the Good Place. When I was alive, I was a selfish little bitch, truth be told. I got paid for defrauding people into buying fake medicine. I was really good at it, and I enjoyed my work. I ended up in an experiment set up by Michael to torture me and three others, including my soulmate, Chidi, forever.
That’s right—soulmates exist.
We—me, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason—along with Michael, who abandoned the Dark Side, and Janet, who’s like a busty Alexa, finally made it into the Good Place. Finally.
But again—it wasn’t the Good Place. It never was the Good Place. I know that now. It was just a calm little bit of ennui, one with a door out. Go through the door, and you, your person, your soul, dissolved into Oblivion.
One by one, we all went through it. We grew tired of the so-called Good Place. We fulfilled all our wishes, did everything we ever wanted, and became bored.
It was all sold as perfectly normal. Like this was just how it was. I remember my very last thought as I passed through it: Why would Heaven EVER have a Suicide Door?
I almost wasn’t aware that I thought it. I felt myself dissolve, and then reality just ... went away.
Except that it didn’t. I couldn’t be talking to you otherwise. I’m still here.
Where is “here”? I’ll get to that. Before I do, I need to tell you I’m looking for my soulmate, Chidi, and I’m looking for my dear, dear friends.
Have you seen them? No?
Okay. Maybe if I tell my tale, you can help. That’s what I’m really hoping will happen. I think you can help. I really do.
Let me go back to what happened after I walked through the Oblivion Door.