Fantasy allows us to explore moments which cannot be replicated in reality, thus giving us a window of opportunity from which we can look at our world from a distance and explore certain aspects of truth which might not have hit us before. But hardly do we find movies or television shows delving into such philosophical depth, where within the narrative there is a clear attempt to look for something regarding human existence and its frailties. One such show which stands out from the rest of the hullabaloo in today’s world is the NBC sitcom ‘The Good Place.’
Kristen Bell plays the leading character, Eleanor Shellstrop, who has reached heaven after dying, only to realize that she has done nothing worthwhile to receive this honor. It is here that Eleanor begins her quest to be a better individual and find that goodness in her life which she has always been missing. Through Eleanor’s story, ‘The Good Place’ takes us on a quest of finding what it actually means to be good, or how the belief in afterlife itself affects one’s life in certain ways. The concepts of ethics and morals, which are usually left for academics to debate on, are brought to a public sphere with ‘The Good Place,’ which in turn implies the importance of making this world we are living “a good place.” So, without further ado, here is the list of best TV series similar to ‘The Good Place’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these TV shows like ‘The Good Place’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
7. Jane the Virgin (2014 – )
Many religions and civilizations consider virginity as a mark of faith and a symbol of purity, and many believers take such concepts rather seriously in their regular lives. One among them is Jane Gloriana Villanueva, a 23-year-old hard working woman who always stays on the path of righteousness as prescribed in the Bible. Even after being a devout Christian, the poor girl does not manage to save herself from an unbelievably difficult ordeal when her gynecologist inadvertently inseminates her while on a routine check-up. Now Jane, who has always prided herself about her virginity, is going to be a mother anyway, and has to face up to that challenge.
Besides its apparent comedy, ‘Jane the Virgin‘ does raise important questions regarding what is truly ethical or non-ethical both in our daily lives and in the eyes of God. Gina Rodriguez provides a brilliant performance as Jane, bringing out both the vulnerabilities and strength of the character effectively.
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6. Forever (2014 – 2015)
The most fascinating concept of life is that in the eternal scheme of things, we never present from the beginning, then we come to this earth, enjoy our lives for a particular period of time, and then become nothing again while everything around rolls on as if nothing happened! But what if you cannot die? Does one’s perspective towards life and the things around him completely change if death does not remain a factor?
These are the questions, Dr. Henry Morgan, the protagonist of the ABC crime drama series ‘Forever,‘ asks himself everyday throughout his couple of centuries-old life since coming to terms with his immortality. His long years of practice have now helped him perfect his knowledge of the medical sciences which he uses to assist the police during their investigations. Despite gaining a strong fan following, ABC canceled ‘Forever’ after the first season. In a similar vein to Eleanor’s condition, Dr. Morgan is also trapped in a place he has no idea how to get out of. But both characters, being essentially honest and well-meaning, always want to make the best out of their respective circumstances.
5. Veronica Mars (2004 – )
Kristen Bell proved herself to be a major player on television with her stunning performance as ‘Veronica Mars‘ before she took on Eleanor’s character in ‘The Good Life.’ So if you have liked her in the latter, make sure to check ‘Veronica Mars’ out.
The series centers around the adventures of the eponymous character who, despite being a high school girl, is an expert private eye working under the tutelage of her father. Do not presume that ‘Veronica Mars’ is just a high school story told under the garb of a mystery series. On the contrary, the show has a very strong neo-noirish core element present in the characters, the dialogues and the cinematography. Veronica is as hard-boiled a detective as any you’ve come across, and it is within this grim and serious setting that the makers use an interesting off-beat sense of humor to keep the fun element high above the waters.
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4. Community (2009 – 2015)
In ‘The Good Place,’ we find Eleanor at a heaven-like abode where she believes she does not deserve to be in the first place. But not wanting to give up the chance to spend the rest of her days in such a haven, she starts a process which will make her more deserving of the opportunity she’s been given.
This is exactly the situation Jeff Winger, the protagonist of the NBC comedy series ‘Community’ finds himself in. Having lied on his resume about his law degree, Jeff, fired from his job, enters community college to get his undergraduate degree. It is in this college where Jeff comes across a number of eccentric characters whom we follow throughout the series. ‘Community’ stands out as a series because of the kind of humor it propagates. There is ample use of self-referential jokes and pointers to mainstream culture, along with spoofing popular tropes used in TV shows. ‘Community’ developed a cult following over the years, while receiving mostly positive reviews from critics.
3. Parks and Recreation (2009 – 2015)
The brilliant Amy Poehler stars in this iconic sitcom which, besides being one of the best of its time, is also quite politically aware of the space, time and undercurrents of the society. Poehler plays the character of mid-level bureaucrat Leslie Knope in the Parks and Recreation Department in a small Indiana town.
When she wants to build a park on a massive construction pit left abandoned, Knope receives severe opposition from her seniors and the situation keeps complicating itself as more and more people start getting involved in the mess. ‘Parks and Recreation’ poses a scathing criticism on the slow-moving, all-crunching machine called bureaucracy. Is also meditate on how politics sometimes retards natural growth and development both the society and the individual alike. Apart from Poehler, Paul Schneider, Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott, and Chris Pratt play major roles in ‘Parks And Recreation.’
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2. Pushing Daisies (2007 – 2009)
‘Pushing Daisies’ is one such show which, despite being brilliant in every aspect, did not manage to survive long when it was canceled after the second season. The story centers around Ned, a person born with the incredible superpower of making corpses come back to life. But his power does come with a drawback- once he brings back a dead person into real life, he is not supposed to touch them again. And if he does, that person will die forever. Ned decides to use his gift to help police detective in solving murder cases by bringing murder victims to life and asking them about the conditions in which they were killed!
Despite the dark premise, the show incorporates amazingly quirky humor throughout its narrative with the help of wordplay, double entendre and metaphors. The visual style incorporated in the series is rather fresh, as are the set designs. ‘Pushing Daisies’ managed to win a total of seven Primetime Emmys out of the 13 nominations it received during its two-season run.
1. BoJack Horseman (2014 – )
Despite being an animated series, ‘BoJack Horseman‘ has the potential to plunge adults down deep rabbit holes of philosophical wanderings. The Netflix series centers around a washed-up former TV star, BoJack, who has lost all sense of purpose and just sits and drinks away his days. A Cat called Princess Carolyn is BoJack’s agent and former girlfriend who tries hard to bring him back to his senses, but to no avail.
‘BoJack Horseman’ incorporates the use of meta-humor, constant self-referential jokes, and breaking of the fourth wall to communicate directly with the audience. The postmodern aspect of the humor also finds a place in the narrative, with BoJack being a complete nihilist who masters in lamenting on his losses while drowning himself in alcohol, without really doing anything about it.
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