Kristen Bell Deserves an Emmy Nod for ‘The Good Place’ Finale

Kevin Fallon
NBC

This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.

This week:

  • Fawning over The Good Place finale.
  • Important J. Lo updates.
  • The surprising Jessica Simpson moment.
  • A dog!

Kristen Bell Is So Good in The Good Place

The Good Place series finale was so beautiful, so well thought out, and so expertly executed that it nearly convinced me to die. It was that good. 

The NBC comedy technically aired its final episode January 30, but I finally got around to watching it Wednesday night in my apartment, which is, of course, the major milestone all TV networks mark. It also explains why I’ve been walking aimlessly around New York City asking strangers to hug me for the last 48 hours. 

Saying too much about what happened in the episode is a disservice. For one, the writers had built such a complex universe and charted such an admirably audacious journey that it became, as it neared its end, unfathomable that it could have a satisfying conclusion. There was no way for it to end, yet it did—and so spectacularly. Spoiling how would be criminal.

It’s also important not to say too much because when you talk about this show and its plot, you sound like a big ole pretentious dickwad. 

Oh my god, this show sounds so lame and insufferable. A core group of four bonded humans, a reformed demon, and a not-a-girl, not-a-robot must figure out a way to prove that human beings are, at their cores, fundamentally good people, so long as they are provided with the philosophical instruments with which to exhibit their morality. 

I know what you’re thinking, right? Shut up, you fat dink. But the series managed to reveal humanity—in all its moral complication and also exhilarating ridiculousness—with such biting wit and self-awareness that it was, truly, one of the most enjoyable series on television for the last four years. The undersung key to that is star Kristen Bell.

Across the board, the acting on The Good Place is fantastic. There’s Ted Danson, duh. Maya Rudolph was a guest performer for the ages. D’Arcy Carden as Janet is one of those comedic revelations we’ll still be talking about decades from now. But it’s Bell, the closest thing the show has to a straight man, that centers the whole thing.

Her line deliveries constantly floor me. A one-liner that is, essentially, an assemblage of words that are merely the vehicle for dripping sarcasm, is somehow expressed in a completely surprising way. I wasn’t aware there were new ways to express shades of sarcasm, and I consider myself an expert on such things. But Bell found it.

She also found a means for telegraphing a deep desire to see other people for their goodness, often through a lingering stare, a slightly misty-eyed sigh, or a glance, carrying the weight of the show’s lofty message with an effortless emotional ease. 

There’s a line she has in the finale that doesn’t give too much away: “He's messing up, and trying again, and messing up again, and then getting things wrong, and then trying to make them right. That's what everyone does.” She’s describing, essentially, what it means to be a human. The way Bell delivers the line, I haven’t stopped thinking about it.

Anyway, Kristen Bell: Good. The Good Place finale: Great. Me: Emotionally devastated.  

Jennifer Lopez Inspires Me, Makes Me Tired

The only things certain in life are death, taxes, and me never shutting the hell up about Jennifer Lopez

We are still only 12 days into the new era—there was B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini); now there’s P.Lo. (Post-Jennifer Lopez’s Super Bowl Performance)—which means that people are still reeling from and properly processing the miracle that was her halftime show set

You may think I’m being ridiculous, but there was an actual crucifixion. This is our religion now:

In any case, this week Lopez shared a behind-the-scenes video revealing what her Sunday was like the day she changed history (performed at the Super Bowl). The video is inspiring. She’s so excited for herself after nailing her set that I nearly cried on her behalf. 

The mini-documentary begins 12 hours before her performance, when she goes to the gym. The gym. To be clear, Lopez’s halftime show performance was so athletic and physical that I took a week off from exercise because I was so winded from watching it.

In other J. Lo news, this is what she looked like at a party on Sunday instead of going to the Oscars, which snubbed her. The Academy doesn’t deserve her.

Jessica Simpson Is Serving!

Jessica Simpson has been promoting her new memoir this week, Open Book, in which the aughts pop diva also-ran turned fashion billionaire is bravely frank about her battle with alcoholism, being sexually abused as a child,  the body shaming she experienced throughout her career, and her relationship with Nick Lachey. Rarely are celebrities this frank about their experience in the spotlight. 

To mark the occasion, Simpson has transformed herself into a high-fashion international assassin: 

A Shocking “Best in Show” Revelation

The winner of the most important cultural contest of the week—not the Oscars, but the Westminster Dog Show—was Siba, a black standard poodle who triumphed over a fan-favorite golden retriever who mugged his way to the crowd’s affection. Basics. 

This week, Siba visited The Daily Beast’s office. She arrived five minutes after I left for an appointment. We cannot be in the same place at the same time because I am Siba, Siba is me. Clark Kent and Superpoodle, and just like in the comics, only a fool wouldn’t be able to see the resemblance.

I made this exact joke on Twitter already but I thought I was hilarious so I’m making it here again. 

What to watch this week: 

The Good Lord Bird: Ethan Hawke does no wrong. 

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: It’s back and so is me crying every time they “move that bus!’

Zooey’s Extraordinary Playlist: Just delightful.

What to skip this week:

High Fidelity: “Why not?” shouldn’t be a reason to remake something.

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You: Are we all finally acknowledging that Netflix’s rom-coms are terrible?

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