There’s a thing about Eleanor and Chidi’s relationship that I want to talk about, because I feel like a lot of people don’t notice it. The show places a lot of emphasis on the ways Chidi has helped and influenced Eleanor, but Eleanor has also done the same for Chidi in more subtle ways.
spoilers up through season 2, episode 2
Chidi becomes paralyzed with fear every time he has to make a decision that has any ethical or moral ambiguity, even when someone might suffer for it. Eleanor herself is aware of Chidi’s difficulty with decisiveness, and many times she has actively worked to help make things easier for him. In episode 5, she realizes that not only is Chidi fed up with teaching her, he also lacks the conviction to tell her this himself out of fear of disappointing her. She takes it upon herself to make him a “Fork off, Eleanor” sign that he can use in place of confrontation. Episode 7 has her give up her own secret and reveal that she doesn’t belong in the Good Place, all so that Chidi won’t have to face the agonizing choice to tell Michael that he killed Janet. By ep 11, Chidi feels comfortable enough to ask her for advice about his personal life, which Eleanor takes seriously and advises that he return Real Eleanor’s love because she believes those two are soulmates. He doesn’t end up taking her advice, but he seems give it serious consideration, and is later able to have a mature conversation with Real Eleanor about his feelings.
In ep 10, her confession of love ends with “Don’t say anything, I just needed to get that off my chest,” and then she starts to leave. (She only comes back because Tahani walks in at that moment and also confesses her love for Chidi.) Similar to Jake Peralta at the end of season 1 of Brooklyn 99, Eleanor’s love does not come with any strings attached; she isn’t asking him to return her feelings because she doesn’t want him to have to make another difficult decision. She simply wants him to know because he deserves the truth. (It’s worth noting that Tahani’s speech is less considerate of Chidi’s feelings; she pretty much tries to make the decision for him by telling Chidi that he loves her.) And in season 2, episode 2, Eleanor again tells Chidi she loves him (in a different reset, so she doesn’t even have her old memories of the previous confession) and again she says “You don’t need to respond cause I know you have trouble saying how you feel.” Eleanor is able to recognize when Chidi does not need to be pushed into making a decision, and remains conscious of this when presenting him with a difficult choice.
Eleanor’s actions wrt Chidi have the direct effect of helping Chidi become more assertive and confident. He is initially hesitant to teach Eleanor how to be good, yet he ultimately agrees, in a small but important moment from very early in the series. In episode 8, he marches into Michael’s office and insists that Eleanor does not belong in the Bad Place, and demands that Michael stop the train. Michael even lampshades this in ep 10: “I need the Chidi who stormed in here and told me to stop Eleanor’s train without thinking of consequences.” And in s2, ep2, Chidi is able to return Eleanor’s love because he feels comfortable and knows that it comes without strings or life-altering consequences. No matter how Michael resets the universe, Chidi always manages to grow into a person capable of giving help and love freely without fear because of Eleanor.
Eleanor and Chidi’s relationship might seem unequal at first, since the show’s very nature requires it to focus more on Eleanor’s growth because she’s the one who seemingly needs it the most. However, Chidi actually has a fair amount of character development, due in large part to Eleanor. When Eleanor is physically present, she tries to ease his struggle, gives him tools to help him, and/or pushes him to make choices that will make him happy. As a result, Chidi has been able to overcome his hangups and act assertively in times of difficulty, even when Eleanor is not there, because her influence has been very healthy for him.
TL;DR: Eleanor and Chidi both help each other to become better people.
- romanticises mental illness - incredibly triggering - no compelling story - boring main character - 9000 bike riding scenes honestly what the hell - main girl wrecks main guys life for no apparent reason - feels like a john green book, and not in a good way - just, Yikes