Did you tune in for The Good Place premiere last night? Ah, yes, well so did I, and I made quite the astute observation — The Good Place, starring Kristen Bell, stole its premise from that quickly canceled, not-so-critically-acclaimed-until-it-went-to-Hulu ABC show Selfie.
Now hear me out.
Just like you, I was excited to watch The Good Place. I love Kristen Bell — she’s seems like such a peach — and I could use a light-hearted, entertaining show to watch after a hard day’s work, but as I relaxed with my feet up gorging myself with popcorn and downing all the wine, ready for a laugh, I realized The Good Place isn’t as “new” as NBC is passing it off to be.
First off, let’s discuss the premise. Eleanor Shellstrop (what a name) dies and finds herself in the “good place” — for time’s sake, let’s just say it’s heaven — but quickly discovers it was a mistake. She’s not a good person — in fact, she’s rather selfish — and she’s not supposed to be there. She meets Chidi Anagonye (played by William Jackson Harper), her assigned soulmate, and asks him to teach her how to be a better person. It’s important for her to fit in at the good place so she doesn’t get excommunicated to the bad place (which I really hope we see). After some convincing — he’s appalled by how self-centered she is — he agrees to help her change. No sparks fly in the one-hour episode but come on, you know they’re going to fall in love.
Selfie started off a similar way. Meet Eliza Dooley (both names start with an E, just saying): a self-proclaimed and self-obsessed social media star who has no friends but sure likes herself. After an embarrassing encounter, she realizes she needs some rebranding. She recruits the help of her coworker Henry Higgs (played by Jon Cho). It takes some begging — he thinks she’s too vapid for anyone to help — but he gives in and starts teaching her how to change so that she’s more “acceptable.” Again, sparks don’t fly in the premiere; in fact, Henry doesn’t even want to be friends with Eliza.
Sound similar? Well the premise isn’t the only thing these shows have in common.
1. Something terribly embarrassing happens that launches them both into their next life phase
The Good Place: Upon arriving in the “good place,” Eleanor discovers she died after a convoy of shopping carts pummeled into her after a (probably routine) trip to the store to pick up a bottle of “LonelyGal Margarita Mix for One.” She was hit by the carts and then ran over by a truck featuring an erectile dysfunction ad. That’s one sad way to go out.
Selfie: Eliza’s journey starts aboard a plane filled with her esteemed coworkers. She sits next to her lover only to discover he never told her that he has a wife. She’s been sleeping with an adulterer all this time. She vomits twice and then tries to make her way to the bathroom. Due to turbulence, the bottoms of her vomit bags break open and the vomit slides down her body. Everyone starts taking photos and videos and, as Eliza says, she goes from making fun of people on social media to be the one others are laughing at. Boo-hoo.
2. They’re both saleswomen
The Good Place: Before she died, Eleanor sold medication that didn’t work to old, sick people. It was wrong, but she was the best saleswoman on the team. Money > morals here.
Selfie: Ditto. Eliza is also the best salesperson at her company — apparently because of how she’s dressed — and works for a pharmaceutical company that rebrands and sells nasal spray that previously gave consumers tentacle hallucinations. Don’t let that get loose on the streets.
3. Neither of them have any friends
The Good Place: When Eleanor meets her assigned soulmate, she gets a bit vulnerable and questions if anyone will miss her in the real world. She didn’t have many friends because she was always looking out for number one — herself.
Selfie: Eliza goes on this search of self-improvement because no one checks in on her after she gets sick on the airplane. It’s a hard realization that she may have tons of followers, but she doesn’t have any real friends.
4. They have terrible memories… or just don’t care
The Good Place: Eleanor doesn’t remember her assigned soulmate’s name after spending an entire day with him. She doesn’t remember anything else he ever said, either.
Selfie: Eliza has no idea what the receptionist’s name at her company is, even though she passes by her every morning and exchanges pleasantries.
5. Something bad happens to them when they try to make the wrong decision
The Good Place: Eleanor’s on garbage pick-up duty after being volunteered for the clean-up crew, but decides to throw her responsibilities aside to join the rest of the town and learn how to fly. She wasn’t supposed to do that, so as soon as she starts to hover above the ground, a storm cloud appears and even more garbage starts raining from the sky. Well ain’t that a load of crap? Get it, get it?
Selfie: Eliza decides to sleep with a booty call just one more time, but as she’s headed there she gets hit by a car, falls in a manhole and lands in the hospital. That’s worse punishment than what happens to Eleanor, but hey, Eleanor’s already dead.
6. Both “mentors” give up right away
The Good Place: After the little garbage incident, Chidi yells at Eleanor and basically says she’s a lost cause and on her own. Good luck living in the land of the kind-hearted, peaceful overachievers, ya bad egg!
Selfie: Eliza embarrasses Henry at their boss’ wedding by playing a video game during the ceremony when he specifically told her not to bring her phone. He reinforces the fact that she’s selfish and helpless, and leaves her to wallow in her lonely despair.
7. And then, of course, the mentors forgive them
The Good Place: Eleanor wakes up in the middle of the night feeling bad for what she did and decides to clean up all the trash in the neighborhood. Chidi sees this and, after Eleanor admits to feeling guilty, agrees to get her back on the path to righteousness.
Selfie: Eliza, also in the middle of the night, heads over to Henry’s house and apologizes for her behavior. He sees the good in her and their quest starts again.
There are other similarities: They both clean up nice and attend big fancy parties in the premiere; Chidi instructs Eleanor to read self-help books, Henry suggests Eliza join a book club; Eleanor’s obsessed with Kendall Jenner’s Instagram, Eliza is an Instagram star; the list goes on.
Of course, the one major difference is that Eleanor is in heaven, or something like it, so crazier shit can happen that would never make sense in Selfie. The good news is, we’ve found a perfect show for all those fans who joined the #SaveSelfie campaign. It doesn’t look like Selfie is ever getting a revival so jump on The Good Place bandwagon… or walk into the light or some other witty way to say you should join the The Good Place fan base now.
The Good Place premiere airs again tomorrow Thursday, Sept. 22 at 8:30/7:30c on NBC or you can watch it online. You can also watch season one of Selfie on Hulu.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.