Are you watching “The Good Place” with your teens? Seriously, I want to take this show apart and assign a credit in philosophy for watching and discussing it.
But more on that in a minute.
Realistically, I preen a little when we go to a gallery and my kids can recognize an artist or when BalletBoy can name a ballet or Mushroom can cite a playwright. Highbrow culture is what we tend to value in education and I do think it’s important. I’m glad my kids know some Shakespeare and aren’t strangers to the symphony. I wrote a whole post about what great museum goers they are. Their favorite art museum is the Hirshhorn, which, hey, is not the favorite museum of someone who knows nothing about art.
But also, Mushroom stayed up late not long ago to watch the Video Game Awards on streaming and root for various titles, about which he had a multitude of opinions. BalletBoy made sure I saw the new Avengers trailer the minute it came out. Popular culture is alive and well in our house. And, honestly, gets more airtime than the other stuff, the stuff we’re supposed to value, at least if we want to be impressive academic superstars.
I can’t always seize on the things that the kids enjoy and turn them educational. Besides, sometimes it’s okay to just enjoy your junky television or movies. That said, when there’s a great discussion about morality, classical music, politics, history, or design arising from pop culture, then I’m on that.
Which brings me back to The Good Place. If you watch it, you already know, but ostensibly it’s a show about a group of people who die and go to… well, is it heaven, hell, or something else? However, underneath the over-the-top humor, it’s really a show about philosophy, making constant references to people like John Locke and Immanuel Kant. Don’t believe me? There are tons of articles exploring it – try this one, or this one, or this one.
Watching episodes like the one that explores the trolley problem or the most recent one that asks if it’s possible to even be a good person in a complex modern world with my teens is one of the highlights of my homeschool week. No credits being given as yet… I think I’d have to make a selection of readings and more in depth discussions to do that. But connecting with something that has the potential to be both fun and deep is one of the best things about having teenagers.