By Daniel Paiz
The newish CBS comedy “God Friended Me” has been canceled after nearly two seasons on CBS on Sunday evenings. While this comes as a surprise to its dedicated fanbase, unfortunately it didn’t to me. There are a couple of reasons timewise it was canned as well as a few storytelling issues that were likely its ultimate demise. Let’s jump into both reasons below.
A victim to its own success
With the pilot episode released on September 30, 2018 to over 10 million viewers, God Friended Me started out pretty strong. Unfortunately, the rest of season 1 it hovered between 7 and 8 million viewers. What it hurt it even more was the last-minute announcements of how it was going to be back in two weeks due to an awards show or due to the NFL schedule.
This might’ve been the biggest obstacle in season 2, which resulted in viewership only climbing over 7 million viewers twice before its announced cancellation. With three two-week breaks between episodes and two month-long breaks between episodes (due to the holiday season in December and awards shows/Super Bowl to start the year), viewers were too asked for patience in a show that didn’t reward viewers enough story-wise.
Don’t confuse that statement with saying this show doesn’t make viewers feel good and cheer for the main characters; it does that in bunches. It just doesn’t reward viewers in its story arch for their commitment and patience. Factor that together with an 8pm timeslot on Sunday evenings, and the writing was on the wall. Let’s unravel what I’m talking about when it comes to the overall story arch.
Why Things might’ve been deteriorating
It’s understandable that in a changing world, you might want to present a story that combines something that’s been in the decline in popular culture (faith), with something that’s simultaneously on the rise (technology). However by limiting technology to GPS and cracking info records, you’re limiting it to a role that it hasn’t been over a decade. Regardless of your trust or acceptance of technology, everything that Rakesh utilized in this series is what’s used today by government, police, and security firms.
A better juxtaposition between faith and technology might have been to use the codes and razzberry pies to create a network of God Account teams, if you will. Sure it might borrow from crime shows and comic book stories, but fleshing out a universe is an easy way to give some depth to a show that has arguably has a core of five characters (Miles, Cara, Rakesh, Ali and Rev. Finer).
Going back and forth between whether Miles and Cara will be a thing gets tiresome. At least with Jaya (Shazi Raja) you can kind of tell Rakesh and her are done. It’s nice to see Arthur ((Morton) and Trish (Erica Gimpel) work through his issues of balancing life and work; frankly it should’ve been drawn on more for the romantic relationships that largely fizzle out on this show. This isn’t to say the relationships are the primary reason why things didn’t work out. There is one more thing that truly sunk this feel-good ship.
Where are we going?
Two seasons at 39 episodes (at the time of this publication, it will end after 42 episodes) should build the overall story arch towards a resolution of sorts. That resolution can then be used as a launching pad to take us into the next story arch. Here’s the problem: there was no resolution!
Now before those who have watched the show rightly point out the search for Simon Hayes, or Henry Chase, or Alphonse…it’s the same ploy used with different people. Each clue leads us to the possibility of finding out who’s behind the God Account. Each time Miles and the audience sigh heavily as yet again that person is helped or healed in some way. Helping people is wonderful. It’s honestly what grabbed me when this show premiered, and kept me around the first half of season 1. By the end of that first season however, I wanted answers and so decided to stick it out in season 2.
Season 2 was no different, because it started with some very aesthetically pleasing settings in Paris, France and New York City, that separation of teams didn’t last. It went from a new, exciting approach to a return of what season 1 was. Again, helping people and improving lives is great. But, if there is no resolution to the biggest question guiding the show, then it’ll disconnect more and more of the audience.
Faith is absolutely an important thing for those who choose to have it and grow with it. But to decide that a show that’s supposed to wrestle with faith in our current age is either a). God determines everything and the main characters have to accept it or, b). the viewer has to decide what faith is to them, is frustrating. In one way, it’s kind of smart to have had the answer likely before even the pilot aired. In another, if these last three episodes don’t save face by doing the above and instead ends in a grandiose, feel-good way, it will have felt like a philosophy class that only a bright few will have benefited from. Let’s hope the ending is as good as the beginning, sincerely.