Tagebuch Donnerstag, 4. Oktober 2018 – Ablage

Den ganzen Tag auf den Anruf einer Kollegin gewartet für einen gemeinsamen Job. Währenddessen Ablage gemacht, die ich einfach aus der oberen Wohnung nach unten getragen hatte, ohne sie vorher zu erledigen. Jetzt ist der Papierstapel verschwunden. Steuer fürs Quartal 3/2018 erledigt. Termin von Hermes mitgeteilt bekommen, wann der neue Kühlschrank zu erwarten ist (yay!). Eingekauft, Mittag gemacht, noch ein bisschen offiziell am Schreibtisch gewartet und dann halt auf dem Sofa mit der Zeitung vor der Nase.

Abends mit F. am Küchentisch rumgelungert, nachdem der Herr mir ein Regalbrett angedübelt hatte. Das betreffende Regal hatte ich oben in der Küche selbst mal angebracht, aber wenn sich jemand anbietet, mit Wasserwaage und Bohrmaschine für mich rumzuhantieren, sage ich ja nicht nein. Beim Bohren haben wir beide festgestellt, wie unglaublich schmal die Wand zwischen Küche und Flur ist. Ähem. Da muss ich jetzt ein kleines Stück Wand überstreichen, denn da kam der erste Dübel doch glatt im Flur raus, von dem wir dachten, er wäre tief in der Wand verschwunden, woraufhin wir noch einen nachschoben.

Wegen Winzkühlschrank und daraus resultierender mieser Vorratshaltung nichts Vernünftiges im Haus gehabt, was ich dem Herrn hätte kochen können, woraufhin der gute Mann Pizza vom Italiener nebenan holte. Die esse ich dann heute, denn ich war noch von mittags satt, aber hey, wenn jemand Pizza holt, sage ich auch dazu nicht nein.

Gemeinsam eingeschlafen, erst zum dritten Mal in dieser Wohnung.

The Ultimate Sitcom

Langer Bericht in der NYT, der sehr gut aufzeigt, warum The Good Place so viel Spaß macht – und warum diese Serie etwas ganz Besonderes ist. Ohne Spoiler.

„The premise of “The Good Place” is absurdly high concept. It sounds less like the basis of a prime-time sitcom than an experimental puppet show conducted, without a permit, on the woodsy edge of a large public park. The show’s action begins in a candy-colored heaven in which new residents are welcomed to find their perfect soul mate, an ideal home and an eternal supply of frozen yogurt. (Flavors include Double Rainbow, Four-Day Weekend, Full Cellphone Battery, Panoply of Exuberance and Beyoncé Compliments Your Hair.) There is just one problem: Eleanor Shellstrop, our foulmouthed protagonist, does not belong anywhere near any kind of paradise. Eleanor is a comically awful person — in flashbacks, we see her refusing to be a designated driver, ruining a stranger’s quinceañera and selling fake medicine to the elderly. Her arrival at the Good Place seems to be a result of some kind of existential clerical error. Eleanor is understandably reluctant to confess this, particularly when she learns about the many horrors of the Bad Place: bees with teeth, four-headed bears, volcanoes full of scorpions and — unfortunately — “butthole spiders.” Out of sheer desperation, she decides to try something drastic: to improve herself. Eleanor manages to persuade her alleged soul mate, a Senegalese professor of ethics and moral philosophy named Chidi, to teach her how to be good. “How do we do it?” she asks. “Is there a pill I can take or something I can vape?”

This is the trick of “The Good Place.” Ethics is not some kind of moralistic byproduct; it’s baked into the very premise. The show is entirely life lessons. Every episode is Very Special. It synthesizes those old contradictory impulses — jester vs. guru — so completely that they cease to be in tension. If “Seinfeld” was a show about nothing, “The Good Place” is a show about everything — including, and especially, growing and learning. By all rights, it should probably be awful — preachy, awkward, tedious, wooden, labored and out of touch. Instead, it is excellent: a work of popular art that hits on many levels at once. It has been not only critically acclaimed but also widely watched, especially on streaming services, where its twists and intricate jokes lend themselves to bingeing and rebingeing. The modern world, perhaps, is hungrier for ethics than we have been led to believe.“

Der Artikel beschreibt auch, warum sich die Serie so viel dichter anfühlt als der übliche Lachfluff (der auch super ist).

„One day out of the blue, Pamela Hieronymi, a professor at U.C.L.A., got an email from [showrunner Michael] Schur, asking if she would speak to him about ethics. Hieronymi is not a TV watcher and had no idea who Schur was, but she agreed, and they ended up talking for three hours, largely about whether it is possible to become a good person by trying — about how intention and motivation color our moral behavior. Hieronymi was impressed by Schur’s earnestness and curiosity. It was clear that he didn’t just want to make jokes about philosophy; he wanted to actually understand the ideas. Eventually, Schur asked Hieronymi to join the show as a “consulting philosopher” — surely a first in sitcom history. Later he brought on Todd May, the author of that slim book about death. The consultants spoke not only to Schur but also to the writers’ room, giving lectures on existentialism and the famous thought experiment known as the Trolley Problem, ideas which were later woven into the show. All of which is to say “The Good Place” is not about philosophy in the way that “The Big Bang Theory” is about science — as a set of clichés to tap for silly jokes. A sitcom is not a grad school seminar, obviously, so the philosophy is highly abridged. But it is not insubstantial, and philosophical ideas actually determine and shape the plot.

At the beginning of Episode 6, Chidi holds up a book: a thick academic paperback with one of those devastatingly quiet covers (earth tones, Morandi still-life) that make you feel as if you will never be allowed to leave the library again.

Eleanor reads its title aloud — “What We Owe to Each Other” — and gasps.

“I saw this movie!” she says. “Laura Linney cries in a lake house because Jude Law left her for his ex-wife’s ghost.”

This synopsis, of course, is incorrect. The book is actually a dense work of philosophy by the Harvard emeritus professor T.M. Scanlon. It introduces an idea called “contractualism.” As Chidi explains it to Eleanor: “Imagine a group of reasonable people are coming up with the rules for a new society. … But anyone can veto any rule that they think is unfair.” (“Well, my first rule would be that no one can veto my rules,” Eleanor responds, to which Chidi counters, “That’s called tyranny, and it’s generally frowned upon.”)“ […]

Schur loved not only the central thesis of “What We Owe to Each Other” but also the book’s title. “It assumes that we owe things to each other,” he told me. “It starts from that place. It’s not like: Do we owe anything to each other? It’s like: Given that we owe things to each other, let’s try to figure out what they are. It’s a very quietly subversive idea.”

It is, in a way, deeply un-American — an affront to our central mythology of individual rights, self-interest and the sanctity of the free market. As an over-the-top avatar of all our worst impulses, Eleanor is severely allergic to any notion of community. And yet her salvation will turn out to depend on the people around her, all of whom will in turn depend on her. What makes us good, Chidi tells her, is “our bonds to other people and our innate desire to treat them with dignity.” As the show progresses, “What We Owe to Each Other” becomes a recurring character, popping up onscreen at several crucial plot points. This amazed Hieronymi — the last thing she had expected to see was her dissertation adviser’s book featured prominently on a network sitcom.