“The Good Place” stars Kristen Bell. | IMDb

Eleanor Shell­strop opens her eyes and finds herself in an unfa­miliar waiting room. 

“Welcome!” reads the bright green text on the wall in front of her. “Every­thing is fine.”

That may or may not be true. Eleanor soon learns that she has died and, thanks to her good deeds on Earth, ended up in the “Good Place,” where the good people go. 

The NBC comedy “The Good Place” con­cluded its second season in Feb­ruary. In 2016, it won the Critics’ Choice Tele­vision Awards for Most Exciting New Series, and was nom­i­nated for a number of other awards last year. Season one is available on Netflix, and both seasons are def­i­nitely worth binge-watching. 

“The Good Place” is charming and hilar­i­ously clever, and offers simple ethics lessons without dumbing down big con­cepts. It’s some­thing all Hillsdale stu­dents can enjoy.

In the first season, Eleanor — played by Kristen Bell — learns how to nav­igate life in the afterlife. “The Good Place” is filled with an inex­plicable number of frozen yogurt shops, flying machines, and a sort of humanoid Siri. Everyone is given a soulmate and a dream house, and curse words are auto­mat­i­cally replaced with similar, cleaner terms, like “holy shirt.”

There’s just one problem: Eleanor doesn’t belong there. A com­puter system sorted her into the Good Place after she earned points based on selfless deeds that she didn’t actually do. Real­izing that she has been mixed up with someone else, Eleanor con­fides in her assigned soulmate, ethics pro­fessor Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper).

In an effort to help Eleanor learn to be a good person, Chidi agrees to give her lessons in moral phi­losophy. Others later sit in on these lec­tures, which are filled with jokes a Hillsdale audience will surely appre­ciate.

“Who died and left Aris­totle in charge of ethics?” Eleanor asks in frus­tration.

“Plato,” Chidi replies.

This is one of the show’s greatest charms. It makes ethics lessons funny without watering down complex con­cepts. In a lecture on John Stuart Mill, Chidi explains that according to util­i­tar­i­anism, a morally correct choice involves that which causes the most good and least pain. He begins to explain that this could be used to justify bad actions when he is inter­rupted. 

A break­dancer named Jason, who is not exactly known for being an intel­lectual, describes an incident from his life with a woman named Sheila, who sold alli­gators on the black market.

“Sheila was gonna get married to my boy, Donkey Doug, and make him move to Sarasota,” Jason says. “It would’ve broken up my whole break­dancing crew, and Donkey Doug was our best pop-and-locker. So I hid a bunch of stolen boogie boards in Sheila’s garage and called the cops. I framed one innocent gator dealer to save a 60-person dance crew.”

“Shock­ingly, that is a rel­evant example of the util­i­tarian dilemma,” Chidi responds.

Season one ends with an incredible twist that will leave you asking, as Eleanor often does, “What the fork?”

In season two, ethics lessons with Chidi con­tinue. Eleanor and her friends are forced to face moral dilemmas based on their lessons, including a real-life instance of the famous trolley problem. 

As Eleanor seeks to become her best self, she realizes that moral improvement involves self-sac­rifice, some­thing she never thought about during her time on Earth. In fact, through flash­backs, viewers glimpse Eleanor’s past as a selfish and deceitful sales­woman who screams at envi­ron­mental activists and uses a friend’s humil­i­ation for financial gain.

In the season finale, Eleanor asks herself an important question: What do we owe to each other? For now, the show doesn’t have an answer, except that people do, in fact, seem to owe some­thing to each other. Luckily, “The Good Place” was renewed for a third season, which will pre­sumably explore some solu­tions.

As with many fantasy shows, enjoying “The Good Place” requires a sort of sus­pension of dis­belief, in which viewers are better off ignoring their own the­o­logical con­vic­tions to appre­ciate the uni­verse of the show. But that can be hard to do when char­acters ask moral ques­tions that the show may not be able to answer.

“The Good Place” intro­duces an eternal judge, who is, so far, the closest thing to a god. But without an actual, holy, creator, God-like char­acter, it’s dif­ficult to know how Eleanor can determine what she does owe to her fellow humans. Does the world of “The Good Place” have a source of morality? Is there a creator in whose image humans are created, or a command to love one’s neighbor? We don’t know yet.

Nonetheless, “The Good Place” will have viewers laughing as they learn moral phi­losophy alongside Eleanor and Chidi. Even when every­thing is cer­tainly not fine, “The Good Place” offers a charming look at some of life’s biggest ques­tions.