The Good Place has ended, which I suppose might mean we are all currently in the Bad Place, but I would prefer not to delve into the semantics of that. What I loved about the show, beyond the acting and insightful examinations of humanity, was the fact that Eleanor was just so casually bisexual. I’m not sure if she ever used that term herself, but I have seen that term used on social media and as someone who is very committed to the identifier bisexual I loved the idea that a character played by Kristen Bell could be using that same term.
I’ve delved into this before and want to briefly say that my definition of bisexual is really the same as the definition of pansexual. When I was figuring myself out though only the word bisexual existed and I kept a very strong connection to that word as I was getting older and figuring myself out. I also lived in a very small town and didn’t hear the word pansexual used until I was in my mid-twenties. I lived a very sheltered life where I barely used a computer for anything outside of school work. Back to the matter at hand, the sexuality of one Eleanor Shellstrop. Eleanor is written as casually bisexual with her being attracted to Tahani, but more focused on a relationship with Chidi. She does flirt with Tahani and the two even end the series with Tahani problematically objectifying Eleanor, which is something Eleanor has done countless times throughout the series. In her final moments in the Good Place, Eleanor has Janet also objectify her in a humorously sweet way. Her ability to openly discuss her appreciation for women in her life is something that is not often shown in this same way on television. What I loved was during the final season, Eleanor also decides to investigate the lives of various people with a focus on determining who was gay or bisexual. With so little history tied to people from within the LGBTQ+ umbrella this sort of searching felt like someone who identifies as part of the community trying to find other people like them. I related to this search and would have loved to be a part of this research with Eleanor.
Eleanor may be in a relationship with Chidi, but that does not take away from her identity as a woman who is interested in other women. He also does not seem to take any concern with this flirting and is very solid in their relationship. When the moment came where Chidi was explaining that he was ready to leave I found myself becoming tremendously emotional as I sat beside my wife. We wound up discussing the idea of walking through a door at the end of our times in whatever the after life looks like and were both crying. Not just because Chidi was going to be leaving and moving on, but because we both found ourselves contending with the idea of living without the other. This may sound mushy to a number of people, but after recently getting married and having finally been able to live together this past year the thought of being pulled apart was just an emotional journey that we were both not ready for. What I love about this moment though is that while the relationship that triggered our responses did not entirely reflect our own, we still felt a powerful connection to Chidi and Eleanor. This speaks to powerful storytelling and also powerful acting. The Good Place has created characters that are able to reflect their viewers back at them no matter who they might be.