‘The Good Place’ Is A Study Of Libra
I am celebrating Libra month by rewatching The Good Place. This show has struck me as a perfect ode to the Libran journey. And since nobody else seems interested in discussing this angle with me (I’ve tried!), I’ll just talk to my blog about it. Here’s why I think The Good Place is about all things Libra.
<spoiler alert: Please read no further if you have not watched the show as this post contains spoilers>
First, the four humans are all Libran archetypes. And since The Good Place is actually you-know-what, these are the worst traits of Libra, caricatured for comedic appeal. We have Chidi Anagonye the Cripplingly Indecisive, Tahani Al-Jamil the Judgemental Shallow, Jason Mendoza the Pleasure Impulsive and finally Eleanor Shellstrop the Cold Manipulative. All four of them are highly intelligent, just in different ways all of which reveal themselves as vital through the course of the show. There is Street Smart, Bookish Intellect, Worldliness and Empathy. It’s practically like Linda Goodman wrote the character bible for this show and she based it on Chapter 7.
In Season 1, Eleanor gives her date of birth (lying on the year) as October 14. The show doesn’t explain why these four people were picked for the experiment but I’m inclined to think they all died within short intervals of each other. And since they all look roughly the same age, there’s a good chance they all blew their birthday candles on late September/early October cakes.
Then there is the casting, in precise Libran balance – one white person, one black person, one brown person and one South East Asian person, quite literally giving every major race ‘fair’ representation. Of course it would be two women and two men, with a few amusing jugglearounds of partnerships. Who’s more relationship-ey than Libra? And for the iron fist within the velvet glove, there is a just-for-the-hell-of-it contrariness in subverting stereotypes. The black person is the intellectual while the South East Asian is the hottie. The brains of the outfit is a woman. The shallow beauty has the kind of important purpose that Libra ascribes to physical perfection & networking.
The show production is a dead giveaway. Imagine talking about hell, demons, death, trauma and such and managing to do it without tears or gore. The show has a pointed coolness about these subjects that otherwise reduce more emotional beings to wrecks. Breakdowns happen but they’re first milked for laughs and then smoothed over by a pretty bauble, a fun party or a well-reasoned conversation. And then we’re on to the next caper, each one a burning philosophical question turned into bubblegum sitcom fare. Think Micheal’s existential crisis, then the competing parties followed by The Trolley Problem. Every scene is aesthetic and pleasing even when it’s funny or horrible. The road with all the Froyo shops is bright and cheery. Eleanor’s horrible clown house is still as dinky as a child’s Lego toy (as opposed to downright dowdy). Nobody pukes or spills blood (except for in The Trolley Problem and that’s ROFL funny). And ooh, the swear-word filter that makes for so many laughs – such a tasteful velvet glove way of keeping it classy. Holy Forking Shirtballs!
Let’s talk about the story itself – a moral fable about the afterlife, weighing consequences, examining prior assumptions, recalculating, and assessing, all in service of a simple Good/Bad conclusion. That’s got the sign of the scales all over it. The story has a precise four seasons, mirroring the number of human characters perhaps? Or four elements of the zodiac? Or the numerological symbol for change & evolution? Let’s assume.
The story takes what I think is a very Libran approach to the fundamental question of existence – It is highly intellectualised. Numerous attempts are made to bring it to a precise formula of right & wrong. All of these are presented in a composed, unemotional fashion. One never has a chance to wonder if the story is being a tad lazy/ condescending because like Tahani’s Libra, it has cast the Venusian spell. Even the jokes are very Libran – they’re cerebral and often poking fun (but gently) at popular culture. Think Jeremy Bearimy, Doug Forcett (whose photo hangs in Micheal’s office), ‘the non-famous Hemsworth brother’ etc.
Friendship and romance form big parts of the journey, both under the auspice of Libra, the sign of connection. Somehow in all this tangle, people never damage each other. When hurt feelings happen, they are soothed over in a sweet (albeit superficial fashion). And the final answer is a happily ever after. Soulmates are united. Individuals rejoice in their agency. Bad people have each been redeemed, in unique arcs. Squeaky hinges have been oiled and a brand new machinery of the afterlife is in place. At this point, one has been so charmed by the charisma of the whole thing that one forgets to ask if that is the right answer. Maybe it doesn’t matter, is the point Libra is trying to make. So long as it’s fair and pleasing, it’s all in balance.
I’m just surprised nobody on the show sported obvious dimples (apparently a Libran trademark). But maybe that’s too passe or over-the-top for a show with Libran sensibilities.
It tickles me that the main character Eleanor Shellstrop is played by Kristen Bell (born 18 July). So that’s a Cancerian (like me) depicting a Libran and going through a Libran journey. Dear Libra, my cardinal Sun, double water self finds you difficult to be around. But truly, the world wouldn’t be the same place without you. You make it a Good Place.