The Good, the Gothic and the transnational rules of the afterlife in The Good Place.

Craven, Allison (2020) The Good, the Gothic and the transnational rules of the afterlife in The Good Place. Entertainment and Sports Law Journal, 18 (1). 6.

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The Good Place (Schur 2016–2020) is a sitcom farce about the afterlife. The scenario concerns the designer tortures of a postmodern hell which conceal the illusion that an ensemble of recently deceased humans, who have supposedly arrived at ‘the Good Place’, are actually in ‘the Bad Place’. The plot is built around the quasi-legal ‘rules’ that govern admission to the Good Place, where, like social media, everything you ‘like’ is in your profile, and goodness is calculated using metrics tallied from markers of moral virtue. The legalistic ‘rules’ are overseen by a parodic Judge. This article is concerned with the competition at the heart of the series narrative between the quest for moral virtue and the legal parody of the rules that govern admission to the afterlife. It also examines how the Gothic mode of the comedy works to assert the priority of the rules. Anthony Bradney’s discussion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer provides the basis for comparing the law-like discourses of ethics and rules and in considering how popular culture representations use the law in entertainment formats. The afterlife fiction of The Good Place is seen as an example of Catherine Spooner’s notion of ‘happy Gothic’, but the show is ultimately dystopian, particularly due to the role and power of the Judge. In its double layer of debate about moral virtue and legalistic rules in the afterlife, The Good Place is a syncretic fantasy of ethical and legal order.

Item ID: 63821
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1748-944X
Keywords: afterlife, rules, Gothic, morality, judge, demons, didacticism
Copyright Information: © 2020 The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funders: Colin and Margaret Roderick
Projects and Grants: Roderick Scholar
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2020 01:09
FoR Codes: 36 CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 3605 Screen and digital media > 360505 Screen media @ 60%
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4702 Cultural studies > 470214 Screen and media culture @ 40%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 70%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture @ 30%
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