Why Eleanor might be hard to identify with:
- For the first ten minutes, we’ll scared she’ll be too much of a goody-goody to identify with. (But Bell wonderfully conveys behind her cracking smile that maybe she’s not.)
- But then, when we find out the truth, she’s such a horrible person that she’s potentially offputting. “You need me to lie to old people and scare them into buying fake medicine. I get it man. Which one’s my desk?”
- Her first line is “I’m great, thanks for asking. Oh, one question: Where am I, who are you, and what’s going on?” Saying you’ll ask one question and then asking three feels like it’s not written.
- When she’s invited to go on the tour, she gives a little confused twirl and says, “Oh, did I have a purse? No, I’m dead, right.”
- Her real life is believably mundane, “Well I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, I went to school in Tempe, Arizona, and then I moved back to Phoenix, Arizona”
- The details of this world are so odd: They hear someone in the Bad Place screaming, “The bear has two mouths!”
- She concludes, “I was a medium person, I should get to spend eternity in a medium place!” What could be more universal than that?
- She just died, and she died in a very “traumatic and embarrassing” death. “You were in a grocery store parking lot, you dropped a bottle of something called ‘Lonely Gal Margarita Mix for One’, and when you bent down to pick it up, a long column of shopping carts rolled out of control and plowed right into you.” “Oof, that’s how I died.” “No, there’s more: you were able to grab onto the front of the column of shopping carts, but it swept you right out into the street where you were struck and killed by a mobile billboard truck advertising an erectile dysfunction pill called ‘Engorge-ulate’. Funnily enough, the first EMT to arrive was an ex-boyfriend of yours--” “—Okay, that’s it, I get it, thank you.”
- She’s given a tiny home she’ll supposedly love, whereas her neighbor has a mansion. “As you can see, the interior has been decorated just as you like it, in the Icelandic primitive style, and of course you love clowns, so…” he shows her that her house is filled with clown paintings. Even though we don’t know yet she’s been mistaken for another Eleanor Shelstrop, Bell lets us know she’s straining to pretend to be happy about this.
- She then finds out she’s in an impossible situation: She has to fake her way into heaven. “Those aren’t my memories, I wasn’t a lawyer, I never went to the Ukraine, I hate clowns, there’s been a big mistake. I’m not supposed to be here.” It always sucks to be told “You don’t belong here,” and that’s what this show’s all about.
- Tahani’s condescension is humiliating.
- She does feel bad about her life and death: “Do you think anybody cared that I died?”
- He had crummy parents, which always makes bad people more likeable.
- Well at first we hear that she’s “a lawyer who got innocent people off death row.” But then we find out the truth.
- Chidi says, “So your job was to defraud the elderly –sorry, the sick and elderly?” She responds “But I was very good at it. I was the top sales person, five years running.” We always like it when our heroes are good at their jobs, even if they’re horrible jobs.
- The plan she comes up with is clever and resourceful. “You could teach me how to be good… Let me earn my place here.”
- Eat: They have frozen yogurt. At the party, she drinks a lot of alcohol and steals shrimp. “Lemme get more of them shrampies.”
- Exercise: No.
- Economic Activity: Well, not anymore.
- Enjoy: Well, she likes eating and drinking, “Did you fill your bra with shrimp?”
- Emulate: The whole show is about emulating good people when you’re a bad person.
- The whole show is about rising above yourself in various ways.
- Not at all.
Great post, for me “the bad place” is one of the best Netflix series, well developed characters with clear goals (and faults).
Would be great if you could introduce the heart, gut, brain scheme in your believe-care-invest series.
I think Eleanor is a 100% gut character, Chid 100% brain, but is hard to identify a 100% heart character. If we use the wheel with antis we can identify Michal as 100% anti heart and find an equilibrium. With antis we could have Jason as 50% anti brain and 50% gut in opposition to Janet 50% brain and 50% anti gut (great for the future relationship).Finally Tahani I would classify as 50% anti gut and 50% heart (self love).
I talk about it here:
For the first season, before the reveal, Michael is clearly the heart character. Even after he is revealed to be evil, he becomes good again by the third and fourth season and really becomes the heart character again. For the second season, Jason is the closest to a heart character, though he's primarily a gut character.
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