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companionenvy

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  1. I mean, I did feel bad for Lily, because she was obviously a troubled kid. That doesn't mean Emma had anything to feel guilty about. Which is precisely the problem, isn't it? Everyone's bad/evil/downright genocidal behavior gets a pass, unless you're a Charming or partnered with one, in which case even sane and normal reactions like "yes I am angry at this person who murdered my loved ones" are punished and pathologized.
  2. This is where I think the sense that the show but off more than it can chew comes from. Because iin theory, I think that is what they wanted to suggest - but they were still more or less depicting the characters as they always had, which made it hard to see them as these beings who had evolved past desire to the point where choosing total loss of self over a continued pleasant existence, let alone pursuing other possiblities (as Tahani did in becoming an architect) seems to make sense.
  3. Whatever they became, though, they didn't know that it was anything other than the end of their existences-in fact, given that they themselves had set the door up under the logic that life needed to be finite to be meaningful, they had plenty of reason to believe it was going to be some kind of annihilation. Which, I'd argue, it was - the bit of light wasn't, to me, any meaningful continuation the individual known as Eleanor Shellstrop.
  4. Not everyone is driven to help others, but I'd say by the time they reached TGP, all of our four - except maybe Jason -- were. I mean, they'd just offered to submit themselves to eternal torment if it meant saving the rest of humanity. It doesn't get much more selfless than that. In any case, the idea that the most important thing, or at least among the most important things, is figuring out what our moral obligations are to others is one of the guiding principles of the show. And even if helping others isn't your goal, that doesn't mean choosing eternal nothingness makes sense for any reason but as sense of torment. Maybe I'd buy it for now-actual monk Jason, since the idea of one-ness with the universe and total self-transcendence might be consistent with what I understand of Buddhist philosophy. But otherwise, it didn't track for me.
  5. They didn't say they were bored, but that would be a reasonable interpretation of, for instance, Chidi noting that he had read all the great literature, and had moved onto trash, or even Tahani finishing her list. The flip side of "I've done everything I wanted to do" is "And now there's nothing left to satisfy me." Having said that, I agree that they played it as completion and contentment, but that's precisely what doesn't make sense to me (and some others). It isn't clear why non-existence would be preferable to pleasant if now vaguely purposeless existence. And even if they had filled all of their personal goals, it seems to me more in the spirit of this show to then propose continuing to help others as an unending source of purpose, rather than to suggest that once you've achieved personal fulfillment, you're done.
  6. Yeah, I think that's a great point, and ties into what I was saying earlier about the difficulty of representing something that might theoretically be true. Yes, conceivably, if people could live eternally, they'd evolve into something so detached from our current state of being that they would no longer have ordinary desires or a conventional sense of self at all, in which case choosing to turn into ineffable sparks of light might not seem like that much of a jump. But by definition, you can't show something beyond human comprehension on screen, which means we got characters who still seemed too human for that kind of choice to make sense as a positive rather than negative thing. I still find the idea that it is presented as open to interpretation kind of a cop out on the part of the showrunners. It isn't like some higher power came down and told them that they had a choice between staying in TGP and moving on to an unknown outcome. Team cockroach itself created the doorway as a form of extinction. You don't get to do a "death is the next great adventure" ending when your characters are literally the creators of this new cosmic order. If the light is a metaphor for the influence we leave after us, then fine, but the idea that there's literal existence of any kind afterwards seems to me like a cheat. Even Chidi's wave speech seems to make less sense in a context in which everyone's physical bodies are long gone and returned to the Earth.
  7. I just read an interesting Slate interview with the two primary philosophers who worked on the show - and who disagreed about the finale on philosophical grounds! One believes that mortality is indeed necessary to give human life meaning; the other thinks that helping others would be enough, and sees Tahani's decision to become an architect as most in the spirit of the show. So, we're in pretty good company. Link here: https://slate.com/culture/2020/02/the-good-place-finale-ending-explained-philosopher-cameos-analysis.html To move on from the fundamental, and fundamentally irresolvable philosophical issue, I agree with Hieronymi (the second of the two philosophers) that the idea of 3/4 ending their existences (or at least their conscious, individual existences) is less in keeping with the themes of the show as a whole than an ending in which it turned out that the job of helping others, if not of personal self-improvement, was endless. Yes, there was a call-back to the one (wonderful) episode in which Michael had an existential crisis and Eleanor told him that coping with mortality was part of being human. But even within that episode, I would argue that "life without mortality is therefore meaningless" wouldn't be a necessary corollary to that conclusion, and outside of it, the show's overwhelming focus was rather on a)the endless potential of humans to grow and change and b)the need to become less self-directed and fulfill one's moral obligations to others. Now, I'm not saying that the ending we get negates these ideas, because one could logically believe that these things are true on any kind of human or quasi-human time-scale, but would break down after however-many millenia. But in terms of narrative satisfaction, it seems odd to have a show that is so concerned with humans' perpetual capacity for moral improvement, expressed in our behavior toward others, end with an emphasis on completing one's personal journey toward fulfillment. My own personal idea for an ending would be one in which everyone made it to The Good Place - but with the understanding that whether that place were a hell or a heaven to any individual person would depend on the person him or herself. Let's pretend our four actually had gotten to TGP immediately after they died. Would they have been happy? In the long run, I'd say no -- unless they underwent some serious personal improvement. Eleanor would have continued to be stand-offish and resistant to making real emotional connections as a defense mechanism. She would have enjoyed trivial comforts like endless shrimp and alcohol, but she wouldn't have been any less lonely than she was during her life--unless she had done the hard work of breaking through her barriers and seeking legitimate connection. Chidi, we actually know wouldn't have been able to take full advantage of paradise until he worked out crippling anxieties. Sure, Michael's and then Elinor's neighborhood created actual tortures for him, namely the ethical torment of having to either keep a secret or betray a friend, but even without this, he plainly hadn't gotten past his hang-ups - he was afraid to do even something as innocuous as going to a lakehouse, let alone anything really adventurous. And even if Michael hadn't created an artificial moral dilemma, at a certain point, I do think Chidi's stomach-aches would have returned anyway. A real version of an afterlife neighborhood would be populated by other people who still possess the essential characteristics of living people - denizens of the afterlife can still desire, feel disappointment, fall in love, etc. As such, there are still going to be moral dilemmas over what constitutes ethical behavior to other people - and hence, stomachaches. Tahani, in life, was beautiful and successful, and it still wasn't enough to satisfy her pathological desire for approval. As long as she thought anyone might be in any way better than she was, she couldn't be happy. This would have held as true in the actual good place as it did in Michael's version. As for Jason - well, I think for a long time he would have been quite happy with TGP, but he actually would have gotten bored unless he learned to want and pursue things more than the simplest and most trivial pleasures. There might be ways of avoiding burnout even in an eternal realm - but not through endless games of Madden, jalapeno poppers, and EDM. So basically, in order to enjoy the Good Place, you'd have to become a better, more compassionate person living a less self-oriented life.
  8. Though, as I've expressed, I wasn't at all happy with the ending, I don't think the fact that TGP couldn't satisfy them is problematic, because TGP isn't actually heaven. Yes, if this were a heaven created by the Judeo-Christian omnipotent, all-powerful Creator it could presumably ensure that no one ever got bored or felt unfulfilled. But TGP isn't that. It is a reward for good people operated by very, very powerful, but fundamentally imperfect beings. They can supply any number of physical needs, and perhaps could do a reasonable job of anticipating and addressing emotional needs, but there's no reason, within the show's world, that TGP must be by definition perfect. As for the ongoing suicide discussion, I really think the disconnect comes from what I mentioned earlier: the choice isn't presented in a way that would make it comparable to human suicide, but the idea of permanently annihilating yourself if you don't feel great despair doesn't compute for a lot of us. And I do think that there's at least a risk of someone taking it as a glorification of suicide, even though I think its a distortion of what the writers were actually doing.
  9. Maybe you do end up in the same place; logically, you would. But since we don't see that, and instead see Chidi, at least, going through the door seemingly not having tried anything really off-brand or outside-the-box for him, it just makes the decision kind of baffling. Sure, you might have come to the same place in another 10 lifetimes, but...then why not wait the ten lifetimes? Why not become an architect, like Tahani? I still have the sense that the creators wanted to have their cake and eat it to. They believe that eternal life would actually become a curse, which is legitimate. But they're not willing to actually show these characters suffering under the "curse," which in turn makes their decision to end it all bizarre. I mean, yes, the residents know they have the option of the door now, which we are theoretically supposed to assume would stop them from the kind of despair we saw last week--but if they don't suffer, why go through the door at all? It isn't like they can't just decide to go to the door if and when they get to the point that they really are suffering. I also echo the sentiment from earlier in the thread that Jason calling out to a Chidi who had already stepped through the door was disturbing to me, since it would imply he didn't really understand the consequences of what he was doing.
  10. I want to preface this by noting that I'm starting from two assumptions: 1) Forms of continued existence that don't include some level of personal consciousness are to me equivalent to non-existence. It can be comforting to think of becoming part of the Earth, or continuing to affect others, but it is still the end of what meaningfully makes you "you." 2) Based on what was established last week, there's not a lot of room, IMO, for looking at the door as anything but a means of ending your individual existence. This isn't a case of "we don't know what's out there/death is the next great adventure." A group of people and entities decided that eternal life was driving people mad, and gave them an exit door. So to me, acceptance of the finale predicated on either the idea that the gang would be living on in some meaningful way or on the idea that the door wasn't really the end falls flat. Given that I don't believe those things, to me, this ending--three of our four deciding to walk though the door--was bound to be either desperately sad or woefully unconvincing. Possibility 1: Life becomes so unbearable for the characters, after a given number of bearimies, that they choose non-existence to end their (after)lives of torment. Possibility 2: Life is still pretty damn good in TGP, and the characters nonetheless choose to irrevocably and eternally end their existences in preference to remaining around with their loved ones in Paradise. Obviously, we got possibility two - and so for me, it was unconvincing. First of all, I'm not actually convinced these characters were "done," except in a fairly shallow sense of that word. One of the most exciting things, to me, about TGP is the idea that you could try out other types of roles and lives -- once you got tired of those things that you loved most on Earth, you could embark on any number of other experiences that would never have been available or immediately appealing to you and maybe never even existed while you were on Earth. Other than Tahani, who notably is the only one who doesn't choose to go through the door, it really didn't play out that way at all. It seems like Chidi, for instance, spent time reading and teaching great works of philosophy, taking part in cultural experiences that would have appealed to him on Earth, and spending time with loved ones. But that strikes me as a pretty narrow use of unlimited opportunity. Okay, maybe Chidi wouldn't have been satisfied moving on to reading trash. But what about approaching the mysteries of the universe through becoming a master physicist, as well as a philosopher? What about writing a novel? Becoming an explorer, now that he is free of all the terrible anxieties that dogged him during life? And you know what, if he did want to spend a few Bearimies luxuriating in nonsense - well, there's a reason people have guilty pleasures, and in an eternal world, there's really nothing wrong with just spending a ton of time on pure pleasure. But once that wore thin, there would still be the opportunity to put aside personal pleasure and live for helping others. Would that be satisfying for eternity? I don't know, frankly; the idea of eternal experience is inconceivable to me. But what I saw on screen were characters who still seemed pretty meaningfully similar to the ones we had known all along, and who didn't seem to have exhausted the nearly infinite possibilities available to them. And clearly, Jason, Chidi and Eleanor weren't supposed to be miserable. They were fulfilled, and maybe couldn't enjoy or appreciate things as intensely as they had before that moment arrived. But...why would eternal non-existence be in any way preferable to a vaguely pleasant if no longer entirely satisfying existence in paradise? Jason enjoyed his dance party. Chidi did like going to Rome and Paris, and spending time with Eleanor. Eleanor felt good about helping people. So why is ending everything, forever, better than that? So again, it comes back to the central contradiction: eternal nothingness makes sense if they are actually unhappy, in which case their choice is sad and does indeed resemble human suicide. But it really doesn't make sense if they are happy but feel "complete." Ceasing to exist is not a form of ultimate self-actualization. It is annihilation. So what they give us, as far as I'm concerned, isn't akin to suicide, since it isn't out of despair - but if it isn't out of despair, it is very hard to see why this is the right or a sensible choice.
  11. I mean, conceptually speaking I think it makes sense, and could work if well executed. There are atheists who commit suicide despite not thinking there's anything afterwards; non-existence seems preferable to continued life. There are also plenty of people who are completely untroubled with the prospect of death being an eternal nothingness; it terrifies me, but that's far from universal. That makes sense, but I still don't think -- brain deterioration or not -- that there would be immediate, seemingly unanimous rejoicing upon learning about the new option. Eleanor has figured out the answer, but TGP is populated, by ordinary (if, evidently, much better than average, at least according to a highly suspect point system) people. Why would everyone, upon hearing "You can off yourselves someday," instantly grasp that that was the solution to all of their problems?
  12. Yeah, I agree with ParadoxLost. I can buy that the architects can't solve the problem of how to keep the residents happy, which is an abstract concept that they may not be able to appreciate. But making sure that someone's brain remains sharp seems like it should be well within their powers. Hypatia not remembering the word for "math" or the number 5 goes miles beyond boredom and reflects a massive mental deterioration; that's not the kind of thing that gets solved by re-establishing a sense of purpose. Damn funny, though, I must admit 🙂
  13. This actually makes a reasonable amount of sense to me. First of all, we're not sure that the people in TGP actually know what was going on to everyone in TBP. It was important for Eleanor et al to find out as part of the torture, but maybe in the actual GP, any residents troubled by the idea of damnation weren't told the truth. But even if they did know - many if not most of these people came from periods in which they would have believed that a good percentage of humanity was going to be damned to hell. Assuming part of the "perfection" of the place involved comforting lies about the eternal fate of particular loved ones, I can accept that a lot of the residents would have been OK with the idea of eternal punishment as an abstract concept. Well maybe nothing is more important, but that doesn't mean it is either sensible or dramatically satisfying for this particular group of people to come to the conclusion that the inability to end your existence if so desired was the essential problem with the good place so rapidly, especially given that there were other problems that should have been more obvious to people with the experiences of this four - i.e, the lack of authentic connections and a sense of purpose. We're talking about one of the biggest philosophical issues of all time. I think it deserves more consideration than it got. It doesn't have to correspond to time on Earth, but I'm not sure there's any basis for assuming they've experienced more time, from their perspective, than we would have expected them to. The accountant didn't tell Michael "No one has gotten into TGP since the dot on the I of the Bearimy." He said no one had gotten in 500 years. So there's some reason to believe that in relative terms, they're experiencing time on that scale as well.
  14. That's precisely the problem, at least in part. Given the powers we've seen Janet exhibit, there's no reason the GP architects couldn't have at least attempted to provide some more substantial pleasures. For instance, give Hypatia a chance to read Newton and Einstein and start working on problems that weren't yet conceived of during her lifetime. That might very well wear thin too - but it is a fault of the episode that this wasn't addressed. Even if the committee was too inhuman to thinkof it, our guys should have.
  15. Eternity is something we aren't really capable of fully grasping, as humans. Whether that means an eternity of bliss or an eternity of non-existing, we can't really wrap our minds around it. Which is why, despite my own feelings about death, I could buy the idea that people need at least a possibility of an end. Because whatever I feel now, I can't conceive of what it might be to be 500, or 5000, or 5 million years old, and maybe there is a point where - even in a theoretically "perfect" world -- I'd have had enough. For the show to go there is valid. But even if that was going to be the ultimate answer, it shouldn't be the immediate answer. For one thing, in a lot of literary or mythological scenarios in which immortality is depicted as a curse, it is because the person doesn't also get things like eternal youth, health, etc. This doesn't apply in TGP, and as a couple of others have pointed out, it particularly doesn't apply in a world in which a bunch of infinitely or near-infinitely powerful beings should, in theory, be able to satisfy the need for things like purpose. Yes, to use a silly example, maybe even small pleasures like eating chocolate get boring eventually - but these super-powered beings should be able to be continually creating new experiences, flavors, etc. Maybe at some point that still becomes inadequate, but it should take a really, really long time. There are countless people in the real world who live close to 100 years of pretty simple lives and don't get bored by the end of it. You're telling me that there's not enough in the world of TGP to keep people busy for at least several thousand years? The newest GP residents have only been around for 500 years - obviously a much longer span than that of regular human life, but not immeasurably so. Then, of course, there's the problem of Michael, who is something like the age of the universe, and has only very recently found renewed purpose and meaning - and I think it is a simplification to suggest that that's solely a matter of being in fear for his life for the first time ever. But in any case, there's no reason literally your first idea for fixing the good place would be "let's put death back on the table." There's no reason not to at least consider other solutions, from relatively small things like being given responsibility to improve the lot of others (on Earth, or in the revamped Bad Place) to massive things like reincarnation into a new mortal life. To spend five minutes on coming up with such a drastic solution is trivializing -- even if a much more extended process might have ultimately ended in the same answer being the right one.
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