In season 1 of The Good Place, during the welcoming session for the newcomers to the Good Place which is hosted by Michael, a set of actions during their lives on Earth and their scores are displayed on a virtual screen.

The ones with a total positive score are selected for the Good Place. Good deeds are rewarded with positive points while bad deeds/sins are punished with negative points.

Among the sins are Use the term 'Bro-Code' and Tell a woman to 'smile', with scores of -8.20 and -53.83 respectively. Why are they categorized as sins?

  • 58
    Keep in mind that things like "being French" and other "joke" sins are also on the list. That said, it's clearly because these are both examples of low-level sexism.
    – Adamant
    Apr 28, 2021 at 5:06
  • 53
    That's kind of getting away from science fiction and fantasy. The "bro code" encourages prioritizing one's male friends over one's female romantic partners and adhering to stereotyped societal gender roles, while telling a woman to smile is typically motivated by the idea that her appearance is more important than her feelings. For the purposes of the show, what matters is that Michael Schur agrees with these ideas, or at least that he thought it would be funny to reference them.
    – Adamant
    Apr 28, 2021 at 5:11
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Why does one get points eating a sandwich? Apr 28, 2021 at 15:33
  • 8
    Are you asking why Telling a woman to 'smile' can be an issue or specifically why the script writers/producers included them? (Other than just accepted standards in society) Apr 28, 2021 at 16:50
  • 3
    @sand the answer is the same though. The point system is nonsensical for a specific reason. Apr 28, 2021 at 22:30

2 Answers 2


The points system was discussed in considerable detail in the show and in interviews that accompanied it. Chidi would be happy to note that the outcomes and points are based on a strictly Utilitarian outcome, where things that cause happiness are given positive scores and things that result in net unhappiness are given negative scores. Notably, this can mean that the same action can result in wildly differing scores depending on the outcome over time.

Evidently using the term "bro-code" and telling a woman to smile are things that are likely to result in net unhappiness. As to why, it's likely because the people who wrote the show think that the people who do these things are using sexist tropes that negatively impact on individuals or society in general.

In the original pilot script, the system was explained in even more depth. Point totals were based not just on the inherent benevolence or malevolence of the act, but how it ultimately impacted other people. And they weren’t static. “Let’s say you read a magazine and you see an ad for something and you’re in a doctor’s office and you tear out the ad and you toss the magazine back on the bench,” says Schur. “Maybe the thing you tore out the ad for is a kind of medicine that could help your allergies, right? So you get plus two points for that because you’re trying to help yourself have a healthier life, but negative one point for ripping out a page out of something that wasn’t yours. Someone who suffers from allergies comes along and they’re flipping through that magazine, and if they had seen that ad, they might have done it. Also, their whole family suffers from allergies, so they could have used that ad to buy medicine for their whole family. Suddenly what was one fixed negative point at the moment you did it now is negative 13. The idea is the point values are constantly changing and shifting, depending on the kind of ultimate ripple of whatever you did and how it ripples through the rest of society.”

Schur initially planned to have Michael walk newcomers through various scenarios in the orientation video instead of displaying the graphic. “He said, ‘Save a child from getting hit by a car. Great job. That’s plus 4,000 points,'” recalls Schur. “And you actually saw that happen. And then he said, ‘Poison a river with dirty chemicals. Uh-oh, that’s negative 9,610.’ And then he said, ‘But it’s not just the big stuff.’ He went through that argument and laid that out. But it just took too long, so we came up with this idea of having those things appear on the screen as a much clearer and ultimately funnier way. It explains the premise. Once we had that idea, there were a ton of jokes.”

Good ones, too. For example: Eating vegan earns you +425.94 points, but never discussing your veganism unprompted earns you a whopping +9875.37. “If you just eat vegan, that’s just a personal thing that you’re doing,” reasons Schur. “That’s just a choice that you’re making about the kind of food you want and where it’s sustainably sourced. But the reason we decided that never discussing your veganism unprompted was way better is because people who proselytize about personal choices are often the most annoying people. The people who tell other people, ‘I do this and it’s great that I do this and everybody should do this,’ and if you don’t do this, the implication is you are a bad person, you get far more negative points for that kind of negative action than you do doing something that is an internal choice: ‘This is the way I’m going to live my life.’ And a lot of the ways that we calculated the points had to do with the concept of rippling out. Imposing your value system on someone else is a worse thing to do than just doing something that’s like, ‘I’m pretty good.’ It’s pretty good that you’re vegan, it’s good for the environment and you’re not killing animals, so that’s good in the long-term. But the worse crime than eating meat would be lecturing on other people on why what you do is better than what they do.

The Good Place: Inside the point system that determines your afterlife status

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  • 21
    The most salient point here being "Once we had that idea, there were a ton of jokes." Apr 28, 2021 at 14:21
  • 45
    Definitely telling women to smile is widely considered a micro-aggression these days. I think the bro code is more associated with toxic masculinity, and when it’s stated “bros before hoes”, it’s easy to see why. My comment is really about how it would be nice if this answer put a finer point on it instead of merely talking about what the writers think. The writers are not in a vacuum. Much of the culture at large has moved away from such machismo that is subtly denigrating and/or objectifying to women. Apr 28, 2021 at 14:29
  • 11
    Is there a meta issue here -- how many points should the writers lose for assigning points to other people's behavior?
    – Barmar
    Apr 29, 2021 at 12:57
  • 8
    @Jasper this is typically one of the criticism that the show brings to utilitarianism, (see the part about eating a particular burger being tied to favoring homophobia), which leads to discussions about how Motive Consequentialism might be more relevant in a complex society where full consequences are impossibly to grasp.
    – njzk2
    Apr 29, 2021 at 20:33
  • 9
    Just to state the obvious: the show's ethical system is completely absurd and doesn't match any noteworthy philosophical position, but rather is a mishmash of random ethical ideas sorta just randomly thrown together for comedy.
    – Nat
    Apr 30, 2021 at 9:56

Telling people they should smile sounds like a good thing, doesn't it? It's actually a really selfish thing to do. It's dismissive of why those people aren't smiling - people aren't unhappy for no reason, and telling them they should smile is really telling them they should just bury or ignore their problems so it doesn't bother you. This tends to come from men and be directed at women.

The "bro code" in all of it's forms is incredibly misogynistic. Usually it exists in one of two versions. First the "bros before hoes" version that treats relationships with male friends as always more important than those with women, while "slut shaming" and objectifying them with the use of the word hoes. The other and older version is the opposite, and puts the pursuit of women above friendships with other men, and that your male friends should understand this. It also objectifies women as a prize to be gone after and won.

  • 1
    "The "bro code" in all of it's forms is incredibly misogynistic" really, you think so? // so, 'mates b4 dates' coming from a hetero female with no male friends is incredibly misogynistic? who knew :))
    – Pelinore
    May 7, 2021 at 9:16
  • 1
    It isn't always (or even normally) misogynistic, mostly it's just a case of 'love me love my dog / or mates (not literally of course, just like & get on with really)' which is only good sense, if a new partner (male or female) can't get on with your extant circle (male & female) chances are the relationship isn't worth the upheaval to your life of shedding all your current friends that it's likely to require, that's just common sense, for both males & females, no inherent misogyny in it // but I will give you that as used by some men (mostly young) it can be.
    – Pelinore
    May 7, 2021 at 9:45
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    @Pelinore the "bro code" is gender specific, you can't change it that much, the wording, the user and the subject and still actually call it the bro code - and your depiction of the bro code is not common, or in my experience ever actually used - yes that situation exists, but no one I have ever seen calls it "bro code"
    – Andrew
    May 7, 2021 at 13:29
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    "the "bro code" is gender specific" no it's really not // unless you're somehow trying to say that if women do it it somehow doesn't count & isn't sexist but when men do it it is? .. which would actually be a sexist opinion to hold, do you not see that? // "no one I have ever seen calls it "bro code"" potato patato .. the name may differ but the thing is the same & 'bro code' isn't an inherently sexist phrase, are you perhaps confusing it with bro's b4 ho's? the same thing but expressed with a tangibly sexist word.
    – Pelinore
    May 8, 2021 at 1:23
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    @Pelinore The bro code IS gender specific, there can be a derivative of it that applies to women, it would be sexist as well and misadristic just like the bro code is misogynistic, but it wouldn't be a bro code - it would be some other also gender specific code something along the lines of "Sisters before misters" or "Chicks before d*cks" I'm sure that it exists, I am sure someone has named it, and I am sure that name isn't "bro code"
    – Andrew
    May 20, 2021 at 19:00

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