God Friended Me follows Miles Finer, the son of a preacher who has become an outspoken atheist in adulthood. In fact, he even runs his own podcast about atheism. (His father is about as thrilled with this as you can imagine.) Miles gets the shock of his life when he gets a friend request from a Facebook account calling itself “God.” Miles writes it off as a joke at first, but then, things get strange. “God” sends Miles a friend suggestion for a man he’s never met — and minutes later, Miles sees the same man on a subway platform, about to jump.
Miles manages to save him, and soon after, the account directs Miles to Cara Bloom. Cara is a journalist struggling with writer’s block… and a strained relationship with her family. Teaming up with Cara and his hacker best friend Rakesh, Miles starts on a quest to find who or whatever is behind the God account. And, sometimes entirely by accident, they manage to do a little good in the process.
God Friended Me began airing on CBS on September 30, 2018. This review is based on the first three episodes.
“If we find out who’s behind this account, that’ll make for an amazing story. And if it turns out to be God… greatest mystery of the universe solved. Win-win.” – Cara Bloom
I’m going to be honest here. I did not expect God Friended Me to be this good. I saw some previews before it aired, and I thought it looked cheesy. And… it is. It totally is. But a little cheese isn’t always a bad thing, and the show makes use of its weird premise. It definitely helps that the show is extremely self-aware — never in a mean-spirited way, but they definitely do take a couple lighthearted digs at their own concept. (Which results in a few snort-worthy lines, such as, “Yeah, my friend is looking for God in New Jersey,” and, “Okay, whatever you do, don’t tell her that God sent you.”)
The story is incredibly optimistic and uplifting, following Miles as he inadvertently becomes a bringer of positive change for those around him, both for his friends, random strangers, and even himself. Despite Miles’ insistence that the God account is just some human behind a computer messing with him (and it may well be — the show doesn’t give us an answer either way), the story very quickly becomes about how we are all connected. Even the smallest act of kindness can lead to much better things for everyone later on.
In addition to the main plot with the God account, God Friended Me also follows the personal lives of the main characters. There’s Miles fraught relationship with his dad and Cara’s next-to-nonexistent relationship with her mother. Both storylines carry a lot of emotional weight, and the actors — particularly Violett Beane as Cara — play it extremely well.
There’s also the adorable blooming romance between Cara and Miles (not a spoiler — the other characters are commenting on it by episode two). I hope they don’t drag out the “will they or won’t they” stage for too long, but for now, I’m fully rooting for those two. As an added bonus, we also get two additional romances; Rakesh as he pursues a young woman named Jaya, despite his complete ineptitude with anything related to relationships, and Ali’s sweet, loving relationship with her girlfriend Dee. We don’t know much about Jaya and Dee yet, but so far, they’ve served as nice complements to Rakesh and Ali — here’s hoping they get more development and plot relevance soon.
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The show also benefits greatly from a strong, diverse cast. Brandon Michael Hall does a great job portraying Miles, a generally nice, well-meaning guy who suffers from his general hardheadedness and stubbornness. Even when he’s being a bit of a tool, he still comes off as a genuinely likable person who’s trying to do the right thing. He also has great chemistry with Violett Beane, playing Cara, and Javicia Leslie, playing Miles’ sister Ali. The show also features veteran actor Joe Morton as Miles and Ali’s father, and he’s engaging and entertaining as ever. (But, come on, it’s Joe Morton. Did we ever expect anything different?)
What I appreciate most about this show is how non-judgemental it is. Whether you’re religious, an atheist, or somewhere in the middle, I don’t think you’ll feel talked down to by God Friended Me. It’s not any particular agenda; it’s just trying to tell a sweet, honest story about what it means to have faith, and whether or not you need it in today’s world. No lecturing, just having a discussion. I really appreciate that sentiment, and I think a lot of other people will too.
As mentioned above, this show is cheesy. Very, very cheesy. I like the earnest sentimentality, but there are times when it gets a bit cloying. That said, it’s not always a bad thing. You just have to be in the mood for it.
As mentioned above, I also think a few of the side characters are underused, which is a downside to having such a big cast — besides the main three, we’re also juggling everyone from their personal lives, plus the people the God account sends Miles towards. It’s kind of a lot! On a similar note, there are a couple people the account has introduced Miles to that I think could be given more to do in the main plot. A lot of them have genuinely interesting stories and personalities, and I’d hate to see that go to waste. But it’s only the first three episodes — here’s hoping they come back!
The Odds and Ends
To close things off, let’s go over some random thoughts I had while viewing.
- “Is… Is that Eli Pope from Scandal playing Miles’ dad?” (As noted above… yes. Yes it is. I couldn’t believe it, either.)
- “Please cut to the chase and make out already,” to Cara and Miles, approximately every five minutes. (So far, they haven’t listened to me. How rude.)
- “This is not going to end well” anytime Miles tries to ignore the God account. (God does not take well to being ignored. What a surprise.)
- “Whoever picks the music for this show really knows what they’re doing.” (If you like John Lennon… you will like the ending of the second episode.)
- “LISTEN TO YOUR SISTER, MILES.” (Ali is the voice of reason for this show. Every now and then the others even admit it.)
- “Wait… does Ali have a girlfriend? She–she does? She DOES. OH MY GOSH, THEY’RE SO CUTE.” (I’ve only seen one episode with Ali’s girlfriend so far, but I already love her. I can’t wait to see where their relationship goes.)
- “TALK TO YOUR FATHER, MILES.” (Which is something Ali says quite a lot. See what I mean about her being the voice of reason?)
If you love watching Hallmark movies or reruns of Touched by an Angel, you will love God Friended Me. I have no clue where the show is planning to go with this story, but I’m eager to find out. I had my doubts, but every now and then, it’s nice to be wrong. Consider me hooked.
Content Note: TV-PG for mild profanity and sexual references.
Where to Watch: Sunday nights on CBS, or on CBS All-Access.
Have you seen God Friended Me? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Photo Credit: CBS.
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