Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Thursday, January 16. All times are Eastern.
The Good Place (NBC, 8:30 p.m.): The thrilling (yes, thrilling) mid-season premiere of The Good Place saw the Janets continuing to play keepaway as Chidi and company roller-skated their way toward a solution to fix the afterlife that wouldn’t require rebooting all of humanity. (Timothy Olyphant helped.)
“This is a problem of justice,” Eleanor had lit upon earlier in the episode (eliciting a serious smooch from an intellectually turned-on Chidi in response), and she’s right on the money. The Good Place has always been about how goddamned messy and complicated human life is, and how a hell of a lot of factors can cause a human being to act like a greater or lesser asshole. The moral system of the universe remained too beholden to a rigid, points tally system, a thumbs-up, thumbs-down binary whose supposed rationality… is actually all about bureaucratic expedience. Sort of a mandatory minimums approach to human experience, if you will. But such a system is how you end up with a bunch of flawed but completely endearing goofs like Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason headed straight for an eternity of diaper scorpions, when we know from four seasons’ worth of experience, redemption is possible, and that just throwing people away because they’re not reaching some arbitrary standard isn’t justice, but glib cruelty masquerading as justice.
Tonight’s episode, sure to be a doozy, is called “Mondays, Am I Right?” We’ll see that phrase and raise it, on the correct day of the week:
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay (Freeform, 8:30 p.m. and 9:31 p.m., series premiere): This feels like kismet. At the beginning of The Good Place, “Everything is fine.” Later, “Everything is great!” Now:
Here’s Shannon Miller on the considerable charms of Freeform’s latest:
At a glance, the premise of Freeform’s new original drama-comedy Everything’s Gonna Be Okay hits some familiar beats of older orphan tales: The parents die (or are forced to leave, in the case of the Party Of Five reboot), leaving the oldest sibling—likely a person who is not terribly accustomed to thinking outside of their own interests for too long—to step in as the sole caretaker while learning to navigate the world as a person who must rapidly mature out of necessity. Lessons are learned, hardships are fought, and everyone (hopefully) grows into themselves in between tearful heart-to-hearts and impromptu living room dance parties. If it sounds formulaic, it’s likely because there is a need for stories about triumph over adversity and redefining just what a family is. The latest series from Australian comedian Josh Thomas (Please Like Me) folds some of those tried-and-true aspects into a story that centers on the growing pains of two teenage girls, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. This updated execution results in a deeply funny comedy teeming with heart, wit, and a refreshing level of humanity.
It is well worth your time.