The Good Place and Propaganda

02 Mar 2019

In season 3, we learn that the Good Place is another boring bureaucracy and that people aren’t getting into it because consumption under late capitalism is inherently immoral, so no one can feasibly act in such a way that is considered “good” enough to get into the Good Place.

The show’s direction seems to be that Michael is on a mission to change the system of the Good Place so that more people may be permitted in. That is, the show is uninterested in the moral consequences of capitalism, but only in how that immorality may be forgiven on an individual level, therefore persisting a capitalist system while allowing consumers to feel less guilt. Or, in Christian terms, Michael wants the Good Place to enact some form of grace a la forgiveness of sins.

If the show follows this line of logic, then the end game of the show is probably something like this: to find the ruler of the Good Place and seat Michael in their place. Because Michael has gone to earth, experienced being a human, he, therefore, has a more relative understanding of the difficulties of being human and the moral complexity it entails than anyone else within the system.

If the show ends it there, the show ultimately becomes neoliberal capitalist propaganda. That is if only the right ruler comes into power, then they can make the changes necessary to fix the system, while still keeping the system in place.

They can go further and possibly help themselves though.

One way is for Michael or whoever overthrow completely the notion of a Good and Bad Place and the bureaucracy that oversees it all. It seems that this is the only way a character like Jason will have a happy ending, considering that he is a mirror reflection of the demons that run the Bad Place. This fits in with the thesis of the show that people are capable of being good even without the promise of a reward.

Even still, this does not fix the problems on earth, still individualizing morality and persisting the dichotomy of punishment and grace.

The show could help itself with a system for when people die, they may be given some guidance and then reincarnated, creating an opportunity for them to enact change in the world. Or, the people who ran the Good Place now live as influencers in the world, like Michael did, pushing people towards doing good in the world without actually intervening.

Regardless, I do not believe the show will let the “angels” run the world because it removes the notion of free will which seems essential to the show’s morality. I don’t think they will lead an overthrowing of capitalist systems in order to liberate the people from the immoral systems of oppression. It will ultimately fall on individuals to be the change they wish to see in the world or some shit.

But I’m prepared to be wrong.