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I’m an english non-native who study english by watching TV series ‘The Good Place’. In the first episode of The Good Place S01, Eleanor was sent to the Good Place by mistake. After that, Chidi and Eleanor continue the conversation I wrote down below.

Chidi: You know, maybe it's a test. Maybe if you go to Michael and you tell him the truth, you'll pass the test and you'll get to stay.
Eleanor: No way. I can't risk going to The Bad Place.
Chidi: Okay, well, maybe it's not actually, like, all that bad.

By this conversation, is Chidi saying that ‘Maybe The Bad Place is not actually that bad’? or is he saying that ‘Maybe telling Michael the truth is not a bad option’? I’m quite confused.

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    I think he's saying "Maybe the Bad Place isn't actually all that bad" as a way of comforting her, but I can't say for certain without seeing more of the context before these lines.
    – randomhead
    Aug 11, 2021 at 23:00

2 Answers 2

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My interpretation as a native is that he is definitely saying "maybe The Bad Place isn't actually that bad", but to be honest I'm not sure I can tell you why exactly I know that to be what he meant.

I think probably this is because there was nothing in the previous dialogue which actually characterized the option of telling the truth as "a bad option" (she didn't actually say "it's a bad option", she just said she didn't want to risk doing it). The use of the word "actually" implies he's suggesting something isn't the way it had previously been characterized, and the only thing here which has actually been characterized as being "bad" up to this point is "The Bad Place", so that must be what he's talking about.

Also, "telling Michael the truth" was never actually previously referred to as a "thing" (i.e. Nobody actually referred to "the option of telling Michael the truth", as a noun), so there's technically nothing previously mentioned for "it" to refer to in that case. If that was what he meant, Chidi would really have had to bring it into the conversation as an object (noun) first, by saying something like "maybe the option is not actually, like, all that bad".

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It means "maybe the Bad Place isn't actually that bad". It's understood that The Bad Place is really, really bad. It seems Chidi is trying to convince Eleanor to risk telling Michael the truth by telling her the Bad Place might not be that bad.

It would make more sense if it referred to telling Michael the truth because it would mean, "Maybe the consequence of telling Michael the truth won't be as bad as going to The Bad Place". But, it's something that would happen in the future, not generally, so to have that meaning, it would be written something like: "maybe it won't actually be, like, all that bad."

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