The humor is rote and predictable. The punchlines are visible from miles away.
This show is a J.J Abrams style series of empty “Mystery Boxes”. Not only is it completely without payoff, the ending completely defies reasonable explanations.
The biggest reason that The Good Place doesn’t work for me is that presents us this extremely rich and clever premise for exploring moral and sociological ideas, and then completely fails to deliver on that potential. A couple examples.
Eleanor and Chidi spend something like 800 years together over 100 lifetimes, and they only fall in love once, and then only briefly. To me, that seems like the strongest possible evidence that they are not soul mates. They aren’t even a mildly good match for each other. But the show goes in the opposite direction, and encourages us to hope they form another relationship, despite overwhelming evidence of incompatibility. (See Ted Chiang’s “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom” for a much better exploration of this idea.)
Another: if you ever find out that billions of people are suffering eternal torment, I think there’s an urgent and unambiguous moral imperative to liberate those people and end their suffering. I haven’t finished the series, so maybe the characters get there at some point. I found it frustrating to watch them talk about the Bad Place, but never think about how to rescue the people there. Chidi is supposed to be a moral philosopher who is obsessed with behaving correctly. Janet is an AGI with god-like powers programmed to help people. Surely someone would hear about the “penis flattener” and think, “Huh, that sounds bad, maybe I should try to stop that…”
All of the above might be forgivable if the show were funny, but it’s not. In season 1 there’s a bit where Sam Malone gives Eleanor a questionnaire to figure out whether she should be in The Good Place or not, and the questions are like “Have you ever paid money to the Red Hot Chili Peppers?” It’s kind of funny, but not brilliant. Then he gives the same questionnaire to Jason. Everyone watching already knows that Jason is going to answer every question wrong. Does the Good Place switch things up to surprise us or defy our expectations? Nope, it just kind of coasts through this predictable scenario in the most basic way possible.