Guys, I’m obsessed. Which, admittedly, isn’t news: as a true TV lover, I tend to find myself getting obsessed with a new show almost every week. But this time it’s different, I swear. Because I literally cannot stop watching NBC’s The Good Place.
And, oh man, are the performances good. The show stars Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop, a mess of a human who ends up sent to the ‘Good Place’ by mistake. She immediately enlists the help of former-ethics professor and her ‘soulmate,’ Chidi Anagonye, played by William Jackson Harper. Together, the two try and hide Eleanor’s identity from Michael (Ted Danson), an immortal being who’s the ‘architect’ of the heaven-like neighborhood where they live. See what I mean about high concept? But every actor seems to live in this role, and there’s not a single weak link. From Janet (D’Arcy Carden), the upbeat informational guide with infinite knowledge of the universe, to Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Eleanor’s perfect rival who just happens to be best friends with Beyoncé – everyone on this show is pure gold.
I watched all season last year, growing more and more attached to the plucky comedy. And then the finale happened. Oh. My. God. That finale. It takes a lot to completely surprise me as a TV viewer, and that kind of insane twist is usually not something I expect in a half hour comedy. I’m not going to say anything for fear of giving it away, but let me assure you: you need to be watching this show.
After that epic Season 1 ending, a lot of people wondered where it could go from there (myself included). But I should have had more faith. Season 2 aired September 20th, and every week has been even more awesome than the last. This is a show that takes risks, and isn’t afraid to blow up the entire plotline, only to blow it up again 100 more times in the same half-hour. The 4th episode recently aired, and I still have no idea where the season is taking us. It’s a little thrilling to give myself over to a show like this, and trust that it’s always going to deliver on the goods. That faith isn’t misplaced either – The Good Place was created by Michael Shur, the comedy genius who helped develop shows like Parks and Recreation, The Office, and more.
As you can tell, I wasn’t lying: I’m pretty much obsessed with this show. If you aren’t watching it, now is the time. And if you already love The Good Place just as much as I do (or if you’re simply looking for a funny, twisty read!), then here are 4 books that are guaranteed to appeal to any fan of the show:
What the Hell Did I Just Read, David Wong (October 3, 2017)
Wong’s hilarious series is the perfect blend of dark humor and real life fears – exactly the smart combination that makes The Good Place so inviting. What the Hell Did I Just Read is the third book in the John Dies at the End series, continuing the story of Dave, Amy and John. This time, they’re trying to stop a child predator who can shape-shift at will, leading them on a maze-like journey of secrets, clues, and, as the blurb itself puts it, “their own incompetence.” Just like the other books in the series, this one is funny and charming, with a creeping horror that slowly sneaks up on you as you read.
The Misfortune of Marion Palm, Emily Culliton (August 8, 2017)
Part of what makes The Good Place so fun is the thrill of watching an unlikeable character as our heroine (Eleanor’s job before she died? Convincing sick old people to buy expensive medicine that didn’t work). Culliton’s debut novel is also about a morally compromised heroine, in this case Marion Palm, who has embezzled thousands of dollars from her children’s private school. When she’s about to be caught, Marion goes on the lam instead, taking a reserve of cash and leaving her family to deal with the fallout. Quirky and darkly funny, The Misfortune of Marion Palm is an intimate examination of family, moral ambiguity, and what it means to do the right thing.
Elsewhere, Gabrielle Zevin (May 15, 2017)
First published in 2005, Zevin’s young adult novel has been touching readers ever since. Like The Good Place, this story also explores what happens when we die, introducing us to a heaven-like place called Elsewhere. In this version of the afterlife, everything is perfect and calm. There’s only one catch – you grow backwards in Elsewhere, and when you’re a baby you’re returned back to earth. But while Elsewhere is paradise for some, it’s a real pain for 15-year-old Liz Hall, who’s desperate to return to her life on earth, and who has no interest in growing younger. She wants to move forward, get her license, go to college, and everything else that comes with growing up. It’s not long before she gets caught up in her new afterlife, though, and soon she finds herself torn between the only world she’s ever known and a new reality that has more meaning than she first thought.
The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin (April 12, 2004)
If you like epic twists that you didn’t see coming, then you need to pick up a copy of Raskin’s young adult novel ASAP. Now considered a modern classic, The Westing Game is about a clue-like game, a mystery, and even a possible murder. When wealthy recluse Samuel W. Westing dies, instead of a normal will, a carefully selected group of people are invited to participate in a game. The winner will receive all of Westing’s company and vast fortune. The 16 participants are paired up at random (or so it seems), each given cash and some vague clues to get them started. The result is a novel that’s engaging and fun, and one of the most well-crafted mysteries that you’ll ever read.