I’m fairly new to The Good Place as a social thing, I binge-watched Season 1 and then, for Season 2, I discussed it with a very small group of people, so I wasn’t really privy to the fact that Eleanor’s sexuality was a matter of discussion till recently. Once I stumbled upon the discussion, though, and Kristen Bell and Mike Schur’s take on it, I wholeheartedly agreed with their interpretation.
But the more I read about it, the more I found myself disappointed that the show wasn’t going to tackle it. I didn’t want, or need, a big discussion about it, I just wanted it to be less about subtext and more, well …obvious. So much of what makes up our discussions about sexuality is about subtext, and as important as those interpretations are, it’s even more important for shows to show us true representation by putting words – or unequivocal actions, in display.
Eleanor doesn’t say the words in “The Ballad of Donkey Doug,” but the show draws a very firm line in the sand in regards to Eleanor’s sexuality, one that’s very hard to ignore, and I found myself smiling as it did so. Representation is a beautiful thing, and representation that is matter of fact, that doesn’t play with stereotypes and that feels real, is even more so.
So, before I go into the review, I just want to say: Thank you, The Good Place. For doing something so big and making it feel so matter of fact, thank you for telling a story about a woman who knows what she wants and what she likes and has absolutely no shame in letting others know.
And now, let’s go into “The Ballad of Donkey Doug,” as the soul squad + 2 gets on with their mission to make a difference:
CHIDI + ELEANOR + JANET
This episode very clearly showcased my least favorite thing about Chidi, the thing about his behavior that hurts people so much. Thankfully, it did so through a simulation, so Chidi wasn’t actually hurting Simone over and over again.
But he has, and he does hurt people by his indecisiveness. Not knowing what you want is a clear sign of not wanting something enough, and that’s really the problem with Chidi, it’s not that he can’t decide, it’s that he doesn’t allow himself to get in deep enough that the decision will be clear cut.
And he’s missing out by doing this, he really is.
Still, my favorite thing about the breakup with Simone was how it was all about Simone and Chidi, and in no way, shape or form, did this show attempt to enter Eleanor as a possible replacement love interest – EVEN IF she was Chidi’s original love interest. Love triangles are overdone, and boring, and the whole narrative of women treating men like a thing they must fight over is something TV needs to get over, and this show handled this story-line, that could have been easily bungled, with as much care and heart as it was possible, and for that, I’m thankful.
JASON + TAHANI + MICHAEL
Was I the only one watching this episode, and seeing how Donkey Doug behaved and thinking wow, everything about Jason just makes so much more sense now?
No, I wasn’t. Tahani was CLEARLY thinking the exact same thing.
Jason has always been the butt of the joke on this show, and I think, because of that, we rarely stop to think about Jason’s good qualities. Yes, he’s not the smartest guy, but he is, unfailingly, the kindest. If you fuck up, if you do the absolute worst thing you could ever do, Jason will still love you. Jason will still care.
That’s just who he is, and the people in his life are a big reason why.
He was a child of neglect, and yet, deep down, Donkey Doug, and Pillboi too, they both love Jason in their own way. And though Jason is, presumably, there to save them, in the end, salvation doesn’t look the same for everyone, and that’s a very interesting concept.
Not to mention that, you can’t really and truly save anyone. You can just point out the right way. They have to do it for themselves.
Gah, The Good Place, why you gotta get so deep when all I want to do is laugh?
Other things to note:
- Bing! JANET LEGIT SAID BING. I love you, Janet.
- I can’t forget about that time Chidi took off his shirt. I just can’t. It’s seared into my brain now.
- “More guys should be bi, its 2018, get over yourselves,” said while wearing a rainbow sweater. I see you, Eleanor. You ain’t subtle.
- I see you too, Mike Schur. Flipping stereotypes on their head. I approve.
- Hahahaha Eleanor’s mom is the actual worst, OMG.
- That was one of those innapropriate laughs, okay?
Agree? Disagree? Share with us in the comments below!
The Good Place airs Thursdays at 8:30/7:30ET on NBC.