By Eric Sousa, Staff Writer
Are you familiar with the sensation of having an old, technologically inept aunt send you a friend request on Facebook? Your palms sweat. Your knees grow weak. Your arms feel heavy. You have concerns related to your mom’s spaghetti.
Most importantly, you know that accepting the friend request will invite a world of awkwardness to your social media experience. But, at the end of the day, you reluctantly accept. One can imagine this scenario would be about 1/100 the awkwardness that comes with a Facebook friend request from God himself.
However, in CBS’ new premiering show God Friended Me, we see exactly how that situation unfolds. Now, I know that I was under no obligation to watch this show, but I did for two reasons.
One; the plot actually interested me a little bit. I knew this experience would add a little… je ne sais quoi to my day. Two; Netflix was down and the show is available for free on CBS. So I plugged in my laptop, put on my comfy slippers, and dove right in.
I made it about seven minutes into the show before I had to pause and reflect. I had never experienced a show quite like this, and not for good reasons. It had a plot with similar pacing to a conversation between inebriated people; frantic and difficult to follow if you’re sober.
It introduces Riley Finer, played by Brandon Michael Hall, with the opening line “There is no proof of God anywhere in the universe.” …I mean, that’s certainly one way to approach character development. I attributed it to an attempt at shock factor and soldiered on.
It’s only slightly exaggerative to say every single line in the introduction portrays a different cliché. Within two minutes we learn: the protagonist is a staunch atheist with a failing podcast, he has a bad relationship with his Reverend father, works at a credit card call center, and doubts his purpose in life despite his boisterous podcast. God Friended Me mocks online dating with the subtlety of an atom bomb. It tries to diversify by introducing characters inspired by ethnic stereotypes.
All throughout the introduction, Miles receives multiple friend requests from God. He scoffs and ignores it time and time again. God doesn’t take the hint and continues to harass Miles. He finally accepts the friend request after a pseudo-miracle involving children, whimsical arson, and bush on fire. I know, subtle.
Immediately after accepting, God suggests a friend to Miles. Isn’t that presumptuous, the reader might ask? Why yes, yes it is. However, the man immediately runs into Miles. After a look of pure befuddlement, he chases the plot development. After a series of predictable events, Miles intervenes and saves the new character, John Dove, from a dire situation.
The man thanks Miles, stating, “I think you just saved my life,” and promptly gets on a train and leaves. Cue black lettering, “GOD FRIENDED ME.” All these events happen in six minutes, fifty five seconds.
If I had the inspiration to attack my school assignments with the same gusto I want to attack this show, I’d graduate magna cum laude without breaking a sweat. However, I’m limited by word count. So I’ll just stick to the main issues. If you’re looking for a show that makes you dig for the point, this isn’t the show for you.
For a show designed to reach a new audience, it seems to appeal predominately to an older fan base. God Friended Me splashes a fresh coat of dialogue on rundown arguments and tries selling it as original.
They set up the atheist argument as, “If I can’t explain every thing single in this world, I will flounder.” The show does not attempt to finesse these timeless opinions and arguments, but stuffs them into a dress sock and beats you over the head with them.
To me, it felt like a half-hatched plan to give millennials a modern outlet into Christianity. I will commend the actors; they performed their characters quite well, and tried to breathe life into the stilted personas given. However, the show is young and may grow into itself.
Although the plot was fast-paced, it might settle down into a more fulfilling speed in later episodes. Personally, I’m hoping later episodes involve God approaching other forms of social media to reach out. I would give this show another chance if the second episode was God using Tinder, with an episode called, “God Swiped Right.”