CBS’s God Friended Me, focuses on Miles Finer (Brandon Micheal Hall) whose podcast, “Millennial Prophet,” advances his notion that God doesn’t exist. After Miles receives a Facebook friend request from God, he’s sent the names of people who need help – a man about to commit suicide, a woman looking for a long lost boyfriend, the single mother of an autistic boy, and a recent widow. Journalist Cara Bloom (Violett Beane), finds her missing mother with Miles’s assistance and then joins him to help others. Miles still believes he’s the victim of a hoax, and encourages his hacker friend, Rakesh (Suraj Sharma), to find out who’s behind the friend messages. Yet as the coincidences keep piling up, Miles begins to doubt his beliefs, something that threatens the future of his podcast.
Like Miles, more than 64 million Americans are atheists. Religious officials view converting nonbelievers as their biggest challenge and certainly part of their mission. Perhaps that’s why Miles has been targeted by someone on social media purporting to be God. If Miles can be won over, why not others? Does God talk to ordinary mortals, even those who are not believers? It’s an intriguing question and one that continues to be debated. Many of us, at one time or another, have felt a spiritual connection, whether that entity is actually God, a saint, or some other otherworldly presence. Using social media to communicate is brilliant, not only because it appeals to a younger audience, but also because information can be conveyed in visually clever ways.
God Friended Me manages to deal with other social issues. Miles and his sister, Ali (Javicia Leslie), have a complicated relationship with their father, Reverend Arthur Finer (Joe Morton). Miles’s atheism, and then his claim to be talking to God, strain the father-son relationship, while Ali, puts off telling her father that she has moved in with her girlfriend. How many parents, even those who are not religious professionals, grapple with philosophical and cultural disagreements that threaten to pull families apart? Watching how the Finers navigate this territory can certainly inspire others to work out their differences.
Juilliard graduate Hall has an impressive resume, having appeared in a number of TV shows, including the CBS pilot LFE. He was named one of Variety’s “Top Ten Television Stars to Watch” for his performance in ABC’s The Mayor. As Miles, he conveys an earnest desire to help people without making the character a clichéd do-gooder. A possible romance between him and Beane’s Cara holds promise. The supporting cast, including recurring guest stars like Rachel Bay Jones who plays Cara’s mother, are all excellent.
God Friended Me follows other shows with a religious focus – Highway to Heaven with Michael Landon and Touched by an Angel with Roma Downey – that were once mainstays on the networks. Some people may have found the shows saccharine, but those programs found a steady and loyal audience. Will CBS’s new offering succeed? While the Tomatometer gives the show a 59 percent positive rating, the audience score surpasses that with an 86 percent rating. Maybe an indication that we need a feel-good show now more than ever.
Top: Brandon Micheal Hall and Violett Beane
Photo Credit: Scott McDermott / 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
God Friended Me can be seen Sunday nights on CBS.