By Daniel Paiz
Non-cable network television shows have seemingly become background characters when it comes to which shows grab people’s attention in popular culture.
There are of course shows like “This Is Us” and “Grey’s Anatomy” that occasionally buck that trend, but it’s rare.
“God Friended Me” might not yet fit the aforementioned shows, but it is a sleeper series that uses loss and growth as drivers for the first 10 episodes of its first season.
What’s this show about anyway?
For those of you who haven’t watched an episode or even heard of this series, a brief synopsis follows:
- Miles Finer (Brandon Michael Hall) is an Atheist working on a podcast entitled “The Millennial Prophet” where he discusses his Atheist views, until he’s sent a friend request by the “God Account”
- His father is Harlem Trinity Church’s own Reverend Arthur Finer (Joe Morton), which makes for some interesting conversations
- Ali Finer (Javicia Leslie), who owns a bar and often plays therapist to brother Miles and dad Joe is often the voice of reason and Devil’s advocate
- Miles continues to receive requests, including the first person he helps, a journalist named Cara Bloom (Violett Beane). Together with Cara and long-time friend Rakesh (Suraj Sharma), the trio help each request they get, which oddly seems tied into the Fibonacci sequence and a coder named Falken, who might be behind the “God Account”.
That’s a couple of episodes piled into a brief synopsis, but it gives you a foundation of what the show is about.
The plot throughout the first 10 episodes has bounced back and forth between episodic dilemmas that come up, as well as what the “God Account” wants and who’s really behind it.
This show might come off as being overtly religious, but it’s not; instead, it questions how we deal with loss and life without feeling heavy-handed.
How loss encourages growth…
As belief or lack thereof are constants in this show, part of what brings up that discussion is loss.
Loss of life, loss of one’s purpose, and loss of who you are.
Death drives Miles’ atheistic views. After losing his mother at eight years old to a drunk driver, he believes what he sees and his interactions with people. However at certain points, he realizes what he thought he believed might be wrong.
That’s not to say that he reconnects with his faith, but he gains a better understanding of self along with a stronger sense of why others believe in what they do.
This happens because he empathizes with the struggles, tragedies, and pain of others. In a way, it’s his own version of reconciliation not so much with what happened to his mother, but more so what feelings he’s held onto since that fateful day.
**Spoiler alert* Miles finally wrestles with what happened to his mother in episode 10, and it’s a really strong way to end the Fall finale (despite the twist ending that leaves the audience hanging until January 6th).*
…And growth brings closure
Miles isn’t the only character who has to reconcile with their past in order to grow.
His father Arthur must work at their strained relationship after his wife’s death. Cara needs to reconcile with her parents as well as learn who she wants to be. Rakesh has to learn how to go after what he wants.
The point is how learning and accepting what happened in their past allows them to reconcile with it. Accepting what has shaped you up until now permits you to move forward, to become a fuller version of yourself.
That’s what I think everyone is looking for in a way, becoming better versions of themselves. That only happens when you’re honest with what’s shaped you, and how you let it continue (or not) to mold what you see next.