TV Review – God Friended Me
This series on its surface seems like several other TV shows in which a regular person encounters a heavenly creature or entity that then motivates that person to do good deeds or help people. Of the three TV shows that come to mind, two were on the same network as this one, Joan of Arcadia (2003) and Living Biblically (2018). The former only lasted a few seasons. The latter only was on the air for one season. Last year, ABC had Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, which was about a guy befriending God or a God-sent being, but ABC canceled it after one season as well, so the chances for this series don’t seem good. If it goes as long as Joan of Arcadia, it will be a miracle, which it might because arguably this series is the better of all those aforementioned shows.
Brandon Michael Hall (The Mayor and Search Party) stars as Miles Finer, a phone operator at a credit card company in New York. In his heart though, he’s like a radio host or DJ. He currently has a podcast called the Millennial Prophet, which he hopes to expand or use to parlay into something bigger. The main hook about his podcast is that Miles is an atheist. He’s openly and proudly atheist, almost defiantly given that his father, Arthur Finer, played by Joe Morton (Scandal and Justice League), is a highly revered pastor.
Arthur has been a pastor for 25 years, which he has been for most of Miles’ life. Yet, Miles separated from the church and at a pretty early age. His mother had cancer. Miles prayed for a cure. His mom survived the cancer but died in a car crash. After that, Miles swore off God. Decades went by. Now, Miles gets a friend request, presumably on Facebook. The friend request comes from an account named “God.” That account then recommends other people. It leads him to these other people in order to help them in some way.
Violett Beane (The Flash and The Resident) co-stars as Cara Bloom, a writer for a New York website. She’s in a bit of a slump or a kind of writer’s block. Miles is led to her because she’s having problems with her mom. Miles helps her after he realizes she isn’t the one behind the God account. Cara also decides to do a story on Miles’ experience. This bonds them as they work to figure out who is operating the God account. Is it really God or not?
Suraj Sharma (Homeland and Life of Pi) also co-stars as Rakesh, a co-worker at the same company as Miles. He and Miles are also best friends. He’s a video game enthusiast who is of Indian heritage. He has his dating issues, but he finds time to help Miles and Cara on uncovering the person or higher-power connected to the God account.
Putting aside shows like Joan of Arcadia and Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, putting aside the God aspect of it, this show plays like other enjoyable shows about a man getting supernatural or even science-fiction direction steering him to help people without the man being a super-hero or something similar. Shows like Quantum Leap (1989) or Early Edition (1996) spring to mind. Like those shows, this one warmly, sweetly and with empathy tells its stories about the struggle, forgiveness, love and redemption of people in the world.
Quantum Leap or Early Edition didn’t have the burden of having to explain its supernatural or science-fiction aspects. Those aspects simply became part of the accepted premise, and that premise didn’t get in the way. It allowed the shows to be about the characters and good missions. This show has the same potential, but, unfortunately, its premise will get in the way. The whole point is for Miles to try to discover the origin of the God account.
Writers Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt will probably string out the mystery for as long as possible, if not the entire run of the series. Unlike similar series, the writers leave the door open that maybe the online account isn’t God. It could be a person manipulating Miles, or it could be an algorithm, predictive analytics or a type of artificial intelligence, such as in CBS’ Person of Interest. It could be a magical being à la ABC’s Lost. Yet, the deck seems to be stacked in favor of religious and specifically Christian affirmation. If that’s the case, I wish the show wouldn’t hold its cards. Lean into the answer. It can only play with the coincidences having meaning or not for so long.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Sundays at 8 p.m. on CBS.