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The Ultimate Facebook Follower: 'God Friended Me'
September 30, 2018  | By David Hinckley
The broadcast networks are testing a couple of curveballs this season, none more off-speed than God Friended Me.

The creators of God Friended Me, which premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, clearly feel America is ready to embrace an upbeat and gentle prime-time drama with an overtly religious premise.

Brandon Micheal Hall (top and below) stars as Miles Finer, whose faith was shattered early in his life. He now hosts a fledgling podcast rooted partly in the notion that there is no deity laying out a grand design for human life.

So when he gets a Facebook friend request from “God,” he’s suspicious. Since everyone in the Facebook world would likely have the same reaction, except maybe Pope Francis – who supposedly doesn't even have an account – that's understandable.  

Soon, however, Miles experiences a couple of weird coincidences that force him to ask some tough questions and lead him to the door of young journalist Cara Bloom (Violett Beane, left).

Cara writes for an online publication, and she’s been the queen of clicks, which is most of what matters in most of journalism today. Lately, though, she’s found herself unable to craft so much as a sentence, and her editor has just told her that if she doesn’t get back into the clicks groove immediately, a thousand bloggers are lined up to take her spot.

Cara, therefore, brings baggage to her unexpected encounter with Miles, as does he. He also brings his good-hearted sister Ali (Javicia Leslie) and his neurotic friend Rakesh (Suraj Sharma). Oh, and his father Arthur, more formally known as The Rev. Arthur Finer (Joe Morton, below), iconic pastor of Harlem’s Trinity Church.

You could call it a sore point between Arthur and Miles that Miles has rejected God. You could also say Morton’s character this time has a whole lot more moral gravitas than the Machiavellian power broker he played on Scandal.

In any case, a regular CBS viewer could reasonably expect around now that a violent crime was about to break out. On CBS, in recent years, even the lawyer shows have had a hard-core edge, and adrenalin-pumping procedurals have served the network well.

God Friended Me isn’t that. While it has a significant procedural element, with subplots being introduced and resolved within the hour, this is a show whose background music is closer to a tinkling piano than an ominous drum roll.

Instead of violence, God Friended Me goes for angst and cosmic questions like what could be the nature of a deity, and do we see signs of such a deity in our daily lives.

Cara and Miles quickly become the vessels in which these questions are poured, and it’s not a big spoiler to say the discussions and resolutions take on a spiritual and often sentimental edge.

While the show features contemporary trappings, with Rakesh offering comic relief as the resident tech geek, its closest TV antecedent might be Touched by an Angel, with a dash of seasoning from The Big Bang Theory.

Hall and Beane form a likeable lead couple, and their colleagues have enough quirks to keep things moving. Still, the money question here may be whether viewers are ready to embrace a show that’s openly rooted in faith, and unapologetically sympathetic to the concept.

It’s not necessarily a wild gamble. Fondly as we embrace Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead these days, viewers have also welcomed the gentler likes of This Is Us or The Crown.

Whether CBS wins this gamble will depend on whether viewers decide that the rather convoluted premise of God Friended Me is overridden by its heart.

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