By Mickey Desruisseaux
September means the return of school, football and twangy Green Day singles. It’s also the month when television networks dish out new shows hoping to make a connection with audiences for the long run. One of the fall’s newcomers is CBS’s dramedy “God Friended Me,” the premise of which is exactly what the title suggests. An aggressively atheistic podcaster named Miles (Brandon Micheal Hall) accepts a friend request on Facebook from the big guy upstairs.
‘God’ starts suggesting more friends for doubtful Miles to add, whom he starts running into almost immediately afterward in real life. Each of them has problems that Miles seems uniquely attuned to solving, and each, in turn, seems to possess a quality that can teach Miles something about the world around him. But while the schmaltzy premise is surprisingly well-executed, the pilot episode ends up reinforcing a paradigm in which belief is viewed as the norm, disbelief as an aberration and atheists as errant members of the flock waiting for a shepherd to guide them home.
It turns out that, as the son of a pastor, Miles was a devout child until his mother was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. He prayed endlessly for God to cure her, only for her to die in a car accident after making a miraculous full recovery. The tragedy shattered Miles’ faith and his relationship with his father, pushing him into becoming the oh-so-sour atheist he is today. I nearly chucked my laptop across the room, before remembering that in the real world, exaggerated displays of exasperation are pretty expensive.
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