Chapter 13 – Do Our Moral Failings Create Our Own Bad Place?

In Chapter 13, Sean decides that The Bad Place is entitled to two souls.  However, since they have all done bad things, Sean gives Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason thirty minutes to decide which two will be taken to the Bad Place.  This bickering leads to Eleanor having a revelation – they are already in The Bad Place.

Eleanor explains that what appears like The Good Place is actually a dumpster fire of anxiety.  Eleanor is surrounded by people who are literally better than her.  She forces Chidi into an ethical clusterfork that causes Chidi anxiety.  Tahani tortures Jason by trying to get him to talk.  Jason tortures Eleanor because she is afraid that Jason will blow their cover.  That tortures Chidi because he was responsible for Eleanor.  That made Chidi look like the perfect soul mate, so Tahani wants Chidi.  This tortures Chidi because he does not love Tahani.  Michael confirms that Eleanor is correct.  While Eleanor and Jason did bad things on Earth, Tahani’s good actions never counted as good because her motivations were wrong.  She never cared about the people; instead she just wanted to prove her parents wrong and show up her sister.  Chidi, on the other hand, harmed everyone around him with his rigidity and indecisiveness.

While Michael set up the situation so that they would torture each other, this torture is only possible because of each person’s moral failings.  Eleanor knows she is not a good person and it causes her pain (anxiety) by being around them.  If she was a good person, thought she was a good person, or did not care about being out of place, then the situation would not have hurt her.  If Tahani was not desperately looking for acceptance and approval from others, she would not be in emotional pain.  If Chidi was not so concerned about always getting it right, then he would not be in pain.  Jason is dumb.  Oddly enough, while this led to his death, him being in The Bad Place, and him torturing others, his lack of self-awareness actually saves him from being tortured by his own moral failings.

The moral lesson seems to be that we are our own worst enemy.  We cause our own pain through our own moral failings.  It is not just that these harm others, but that they harm ourselves – even if, like Jason, we are unaware of it.  While Michael has set up a situation where the dead torture each other, we torture ourselves and others while alive.  If we address our moral faults, not only would be not deserve to go to The Bad Place, we would make our lives on Earth better for ourselves and others.