NBC's new comedy The Good Place presents a version of the afterlife we haven't quite seen before. In The Good Place, people who have lived virtuous lives are sent to a neighborhood where they and 321 other perfectly chosen souls spend eternity together in perfect harmony. There are many neighborhoods in the Good Place, some hot, some cold, some flat, some mountainous, etc., but the one we see is sort of suburban, with beautiful houses -- each built to its resident's dream specifications -- around a somewhat Seussical town square with an extremely high number of frozen yogurt shops per capita.
There are pros and cons to this Good Place neighborhood. On the plus side, everything is perfect. Your soulmate is there, you can drink as much as you want and wake up with no hangover and you can fly. But it's also very rigid, which not everyone will be into. The perfection could get stifling and boring, especially if you like to say swear words. And no one cool is there -- all the artists and musicians and basketball players are in the Bad Place, so the Good Place is populated entirely by holier-than-thou goody-goods who volunteered to remove land mines from war-torn villages or whatever. Imperfection is beauty, you know? (Marilyn Monroe is definitely in the Bad Place.)
But does the afterlife of The Good Place still seem like a better place to live than most fictional depictions of Heaven? How does it stack up against other nontraditional visions? Well, we've taken a cue from The Good Place's highly accurate measuring system and crunched the numbers to find out how some of the most creative imaginations of the afterlife stack up, on a scale of 1-5 halos. And because we have to set a benchmark, The Good Place gets 4 halos.
Let's get to it.
Dog heaven is a lot like human heaven. Pros: Puppies everywhere! Cons: Seems kind of boring, what with all the clouds and halos and such. And it's kinda weird that the dogs are wearing clothes. 3 halos
Albert Brooks imagines Purgatory as essentially a Los Angeles where you wait to be judged for how you lived your life on Earth. Pros: All-you-can-eat-buffets with delicious food that doesn't make you gain weight. Cons: You have to go through the embarrassing tedium of a trial. It's very bureaucratic. 2 halos
In the Season 5 finale, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Geller) died. In Season 6, her friends brought her back to life. It turns out she didn't want them to, because she was in Heaven. Pros: In Slayer Heaven, Buffy was "warm" and "loved" and "complete." Sounds pretty nice! Cons: She got yanked out, and the real world is her Hell. 5 halos for heaven, 1 halo for Sunnyvale.
Heaven on the long-running CW fantasy series is pretty much what we'd all like it to be -- everyone gets to live in their own personal conception of paradise -- except there's a lot more politicking amongst the angels that run the place than we'd want. Pros: It's paradise... Cons: ...That can be snatched away or changed at the whims of whatever angel is jockeying for power at that moment. You shouldn't have to escape from heaven, you know? 2 halos
South Park's Heaven looks pretty traditional -- pearly gates, wings and halos -- but the angels are about to go to war with Hell and need Kenny to command the armies of Heaven by playing a video game. Pros: It would be pretty cool to save not only the world but Heaven too. Cons: A statue of Keanu Reeves from The Matrix isn't how I'd like to be recognized for my accomplishments, either. 3 halos
In Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's movie, Heaven is a neverending white party where you get to dance with the Backstreet Boys. Pros: You can manifest any fantasy you can think of. Cons: Literally none. You can party with the Backstreet Boys forever! 5 halos
"Heaven" by Talking Heads
Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens. Pros: Peaceful. Cons: Boring. And you may have to wear a big suit. 4 halos
The Good Place airs Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC.