Chapter 12 – The Mindy Problem

Chapter 12 has Eleanor, Janet, and Jason (Jianyu) going to The Medium Place while Michael, Chidi, Tahani, and the Other Eleanor are trying to convince Sean that Eleanor should stay.  The Medium Place was created for Mindy St. Claire.  Mindy was a bad corporate lawyer in the 1980’s.  However, one night she created a plan for a charity to benefit the world.  The next day she withdrew her money to start the charity.  However, this is when she died.  Mindy’s sister found her plans, used Mindy’s savings, and started the charity that helped millions of people.

The charity created the following issue: Does Mindy get credit for the people helped by the charity or not?  If so, then she should be in The Good Place.  If not, then she should be in The Bad Place.  A resolution was not found, so The Medium Place was created.  While not explored in the show, the case for Mindy being in The Good Place would that that she intended to start the charity, it was her plan that was used, it was her money that was used, and it was her death that stopped her.  If she had not died, then she would have gotten credit.  It is essentially a technicality.  On the other hand, the case against giving her credit would be that there is no guarantee it would have been run as well and she could have later changed her mind.

However, what I think Mindy’s case presents is a different problem – should the effects of one’s actions still count after death?  The case for Mindy being in The Good Place is predicated on the idea that she should get credit even after her death.  However, why should this only apply to Mindy?  Consider the case of a person who starts a charity, but it only helps 10 people.  The person who started the charity dies.  The charity continues and helps 1 million people.  Should the person who started the charity get credit for all 1 million?  Should the people who now run the charity get the credit?  Both?  The charity would not exist without the founder; so it seems reasonable to give the person credit for the 1 million.  They would not have been helped without the charity.  On the other hand, it was not the founder who actually helped them.  Therefore, the person should not get credit.

My point is that a person’s actions can continue to have positive or negative ramifications long after a person’s death.  Since all of these ramifications count while you are alive, there seems no reason to not count them after you die.  Therefore, having a static point total after death makes no sense.  The real solution for the Mindy problem is not The Medium place.  Rather, it would have been to send her to The Bad Place.  As time goes by and her points are raised, then she would eventually go to The Good Place.