We love a Queer lead on a show, and Kristin Bell’s character Elanor Shellstrop from The Good Place is one of our favorites. Here are some of the reasons she is so iconic.
Queer leads are very hard to come by in mainstream media, which is why Eleanor Shellstrop is loved by the LGBTQ+ community as a popular figure in one of NBC’s greatest shows. Much of the series itself spent time alluding to Eleanor’s sexuality, but the ultimate treat was when the actors themselves, starting with William Jackson Harper, aka the actor that played Chidi, confirmed that Kristen Bell’s character was in fact bisexual.
To start off, we know Eleanor has always had feelings for Chidi. She loved him the more she got to know him and somehow throughout the series with every curveball thrown at their relationship they always found each other in the end. The two make one of the best and most entertaining TV couples and are deeply adored for each of the characters’ extreme personas.
There are instances in shows or movies when queer canon characters are more harmful than helpful to the queer community, but Eleanor Shellstrop’s varieties of attraction were normalized from the get-go. Regardless of her relationship with Chidi, Eleanor was never silent about how hot she thought Tahani was, and those thoughts of hers started way back in season one.
In regards to Tahani on the third episode of the first season, Eleanor stated, “She wants everyone to think she’s such a perfect princess just because she’s tall and glamorous and has cappuccino skin and curves everywhere and now I’m complimenting her and kind of turned on.” The compliments were not from afar, as she outwardly calls Tahani to her face a “sexy skyscraper.” Lucky for her in one of Michael’s reboots, Tahani and Eleanor were soulmates!
Eleanor’s lust for the same gender was not an isolated incident as she’s outwardly stated feelings towards Vicky, Simone, and Janet. In season three, episode five during Chidi’s practice attempts to break up with Simone, Eleanor takes the reins on one of them and finds herself flirting with Simone instead. The two exchange longing glares and Chidi rips off Eleanor’s simulation headset right before she gets to the makeout session.
Her hints at sexuality extend to Chidi when she reprimands him for not being bisexual, thus spreading her own ideals of the queer agenda. In the same episode that Eleanor and simulated Simone have their moment, Eleanor gives a quick spiel to Chidi after he denies being bisexual to use as an excuse to break up with Simone: “Why not? More guys should be bi, it’s 2018, like get over yourselves!”
None of these instances were lost on the audience and even before Eleanor’s sexuality was confirmed, viewers started to catch on. Fans took to YouTube and Tumblr to start shipping Eleanor and Tahani together making fan edits and art to support this cause.
Although never explicitly mentioned in the show’s script, Harper claimed Eleanor’s character to be “super bisexual” and Kristen Bell confirmed this as well. As much as there are needed moments in television to highlight sexuality by being forthright, representation comes in all forms, and normalizing queer discussions and comedy without solely focusing on the fact that a character is queer is just as needed. Eleanor Shellstrop is unapologetically bisexual and we love her for it!