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Things You Only Notice In The Good Place After Watching It More Than Once

By now, most TV watchers know The Good Place is not what it seems. A series that begins with comedy hijinks about keeping a massive secret reveals that it's been keeping its own, even bigger secret. After the revelation at the end of season 1, the entire show is put in a new light. So, of course a rewatch is necessary to see how they pulled it off.

The Good Place begins with the selfish, trashy Eleanor Shellstrop, played by the wonderfully charismatic Kristen Bell, realizing she accidentally got into The Good Place in the afterlife, taking the place of someone else — someone better. Her soulmate, Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper) was an ethics professor in life, so she tells him of her predicament and asks for his help in becoming someone worthy of The Good Place. Well, keeping her secret becomes increasingly difficult as their heavenly neighborhood begins to fall apart. Finally, in the season 1 finale, Eleanor shocks everyone with the realization that they've actually been in The Bad Place all along.

Creator Michael Schur, known for Parks and Recreation, kept this twist well under wraps. Even when faced with critics wondering how the premise would sustain an entire series, he and the rest of the cast and crew were tight lipped. So much so that they pretended there wasn't even anything to be tight lipped about, according to The Good Place: The Podcast. And, well, it paid off. Almost no one guessed the reality of the situation for the humans Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil), and Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto). However, upon rewatch, the whole carefully crafted story becomes quite obvious.

In the first episode, Eleanor unknowingly teases the very torture she's experiencing

While The Good Place managed to completely floor fans with its twist, by concealing that there was, in fact, a twist, the reason it worked so well is because it was heavily foreshadowed. Schur said on the podcast that he and the other writers took great care to make sure the previous 12 episodes still made sense in hindsight.

Upon rewatching even just the pilot episode, the whole thing seems so... obvious. At one point, Eleanor is talking about her parents and suggests they might be in The Bad Place, "being used to torture each other. It would work." Of course, as we later find out, the demon architect Michael's (Ted Danson) whole revolutionary idea was to use humans to torture each other, as opposed to the usual violent and painful methods. He handpicked the four humans to expertly push each other's buttons without even knowing they are playing into his hellish plan. Evidently, Eleanor caught on to that idea, too, though it takes her a little longer to figure out that is exactly what's happening to her.

There isn't a single shot without one of the humans in the first season

In the age of theory boarding à la Pepe Silvia — look no further than the fan theories about Wandavision — it took a lot of effort to keep The Good Place's dirty little secret. However, it wasn't just about how the cast spoke about the show to the press, but also required making careful creative decisions. For example, until the big reveal, the writers couldn't include a single scene without one of the four humans in it because every character except them (and Janet) is in on the trickery. The people populating their neighborhood are all demons cast for the job, while the seemingly benevolent Michael is the puppet master pulling their strings.

If they had shown a scene of only Michael and Janet interacting, or Michael and one of the demons, the jig would have been up for the audience. They wouldn't have needed to be in character for a moment like that, and thus could have shown their true demonic selves. However, Schur didn't want just the human characters to be surprised, but the audience as well.

It's clear that every part of Eleanor's afterlife is meant to annoy her

While Michael's grand idea was to make the four humans torture each other for eternity, he couldn't help but also make the neighborhood purposefully annoying. Sure, it doesn't have two-mouthed bears or spiders in unholy places, but it does have a surprising amount of frozen yogurt places. This is perhaps the first clue that The Good Place isn't what it seems — the froyo is meant to be pleasant, but not quite as heavenly as ice cream.

However, on a rewatch, it's clear how many details were put in place specifically to drive Eleanor nuts. It's initially played off as her tastes clashing with real-Eleanor's preferences, or even Eleanor simply being a grouchy jerk who finds something wrong in everything, but it was all carefully planned by Michael. There's her strange little house with its uncomfortable clown paintings and amusing lack of stairs. She's also directly neighbors with Tahani, who owns an expansive estate that could fit a hundred of Eleanor's houses in it, and is exactly the kind of thing that gets under Eleanor's skin. It's no wonder Eleanor gets drunk and stuffs her face with shrimp when the whole experience was designed to make her do just that.

The Good Place set up its series long problem in the very first episode

While it's easy to talk about The Good Place's bait-and-switch first season, the series eventually had to move on from "Eleanor's not supposed to be here and is hiding it," and "They're actually in The Bad Place!" to keep the plot moving forward. Even then, the very first episode set up what became the series' central problem in its final half: The afterlife's point system.

Michael, playing the part of a welcoming good man, tells the neighborhood that only "the true cream of the crop" make it into The Good Place, and don't worry about everyone else. Then, when Eleanor asks him who's in The Bad Place, he says almost every artist and every U.S. president, except Lincoln. She responds in surprise that "all those amazing people" are down there, but he responds with, "It's an incredibly selective system. Most people don't make it here."

Well, that's the crux of the problem that Team Cockroach takes issue with after trying to get into the real Good Place. The point system rules are so archaic that it's become impossible for anyone to actually reach the threshold needed to get there — no one's been admitted in the last 500 years. Even without realizing this yet, Eleanor rails about the system in the pilot, saying there should be a medium place: this frustration sustains her for the whole show, leading them to overhaul the system in the final episodes. It's amazing what a couple of ash-holes can do.