Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Uplifting stories
Cons: Predictable stories; theological issues
The Bottom Line:
Atheist meets “God”
Leaves me with a smile
“I Found God. He’s in Jersey.”
I actually gave several new shows a chance this last fall because I’m clearly not watching enough TV. Most of them I gave up on after one or two weeks, but the one that I stuck with was God Friended Me. I gave myself permission to stop watching it at any point during the season, but I made it through all of season one and enjoyed it.
The series revolves around Miles Finer (Brandon Michael Hall). He’s an atheist with a podcast entitled “The Millennial Prophet” where he tries to persuade others to his way of thinking. This has understandably caused a rift with his father, Arthur (Joe Morton), who is a minister at a local church. Hi sister, Ali (Javicia Leslie) tries to maintain peace between the two, but it doesn’t seem to help.
Miles’s life is turned upside down when he gets a social media friend request from an account claiming to be God. Naturally, he laughs it off as a prank and doesn’t accept it. But it keeps coming back. Finally, he accepts the friend request, and then “God” starts sending him friend suggestions. While his friend Rakesh (Suraj Sharma) tries to figure out who is behind the account, Miles teams up with journalist Cara Bloom (Violett Beane), one of his first friend suggestions, to figure out what each friend suggestion needs and how they can help them. Over the course of the season they help a woman track down an old boyfriend, dig into the life of an attorney who died six months ago, deal with an apartment complex full of friend suggestions, and help a woman who awakens from a coma with no memory of her last night before the coma. But who is really behind the “God” account?
Let’s be honest, this is a modern update of some premises that have been done in movies and on TV in the past. And, as long as we are being honest, the show is fairly predictable, with most episodes following a basic formula.
But I don’t care.
Honestly, I wish there were more shows like this on TV. Yes, we have conflict, but the show usually ends with a happy ending, especially for the guest stars. This is a sweet, gentle show that attempts to remind us about the best part of being human. It’s hard not to tear up at this show as the main cast works to solve whatever problem the new friend suggestion brings them that week.
As a Christian, I thought I might give up on this show depending on how they portrayed Christians and Christianity in general. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with everyone they have done on the show. It is obvious that Arthur’s church, while the denomination isn’t named, is a liberal church because I disagree with a few of the things that come up in the course of the season. Probably the biggest early on is the fact that he is okay with his daughter being a lesbian. There are somethings he does late in the season that I also disagree with. However, I realize there are some denominations out there that believe the way he does, so I didn’t let me keep that from watching. I never felt like I was being lectured at, and I know better than to look at TV shows for my theology.
With Miles being the main character, it’s obvious they present atheism in a positive light. However, as the season goes along, Miles has to struggle with what he believes about God. I still don’t know where they are going with this or what their point is going to be, but it was nice to see that struggle. And, while Miles and Arthur are at odds, we do see a positive portrayal of Christianity on TV. Given the creator and producers behind the show, I am unsure if I will appreciate the ultimate message of the show, but for now I am along for the ride.
Another thing I appreciated about the show is that it gave the main characters reasons for their beliefs when the show started, and it allowed them, their beliefs, and their relationships to grow organically as the season progressed. It also shows people who begin to try to understand each other, spend time together, and love each other despite their differences – something that appears to be lacking in our country today.
Yes, part of each episode is the mission to figure out who is really behind the “God” account. That is a fun plot thread that ties the episodes together, but most episodes focus more on the newest friend suggestion than the mystery behind the account.
The actors are all wonderful at bringing their characters to life, and their performances help keep the show grounded instead of becoming overly sentimental, something it would be easy for the show to give in to.
The first season consists of 20 episodes. Best I can tell, there are no plans to put it out on DVD right now, but I definitely recommend you track it down on streaming.
I’m still curious where they show is going to ultimately go and what message they are trying to make. I hope I continue to enjoy when that message becomes obvious. But for now, I do recommend the first season of God Friended Me when you need something to uplift you.