Sunday, September 30, 2018

REVIEW: 'God Friended Me' - Miles Suddenly Finds Himself On a New Mission to Help People in 'Pilot'

CBS' God Friended Me - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

Miles Finer, an outspoken atheist podcaster, finds his life turned upside down when he receives a friend request from "God" on social media and unwittingly becomes an agent of change in the lives and destines of others around him.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of CBS' God Friended Me.

"Pilot" was written by Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt and directed by Marcos Siega

It's surprising how much the premiere for God Friended Me reminded me of Person of Interest. That was a fantastic show for CBS. As such, it's not surprising that some executive would like to mimic that success once more. Both shows feature a ragtag group of people trying to intervene during moments of crisis for random people throughout New York City. The difference is that Person of Interest assembled this information from an all-seeing artificial intelligence and God Friended Me boasts God directing Miles on this new mission. Person of Interest was expertly able to address the horrors and delusion of this kind of surveillance as well. Living in a world where every single action is monitored and recorded can be so invasive. It makes it seem like humanity no longer has any privacy or free will. The former show was able to showcase the best of intentions facing off with those who wish to abuse this program. And now, God Friended Me seems much more interested in the grounded personal stories of the lives Miles is changing. He is an atheist trying to preach his message to as many people as possible. When he is friended by God, he believes it's nothing more than a hoax. And then, he starts helping people. One is a doctor about to jump in front of a train. The other is a journalist who is scared to face her estranged mother who walked out on her years ago. Cara immediately presents as someone with ongoing importance in the narrative as well because she learns about the God account and is willing to help Miles get to the bottom of what's going on. In fact, Miles is quickly able to assemble a team even though the show props up Rakesh's hacking as a valuable skill and not a crime. The same is also true of Cara being able to break into a house. That's the way that these characters are going to be making a difference. It just seems like the show is taking the approach of the ends justifying the means. Miles, Cara and Rakesh are able to get away with this because they are making a profound difference in someone's life. That builds to the sweet and earnest quality frequently on display throughout this hour. It's not a bad approach to telling this story either. The show just has to be very careful in the future to ensure that the characters never cross the amoral line of just invading these people's lives and freaking them out by how much information they know. Moreover, the show has to be careful with the references to Facebook. It is completely integrated into the premise of the show. Plus, Facebook has been in the news a lot as of late. However, it's not for anything good. It's for privacy invasion and data breaches. Information isn't safe on the social media platform. And now, God Friended Me is making its debut with the understanding that the only people God is interested in saving are on Facebook. As such, there's the added uncomfortableness that comes from only problematic people still earnestly using the platform in order to explore the simple and original goal of connecting with people throughout the world. That's the quality this show embraces. It's just made more complicated by the news and distrust in social media giants over the last few years. Plus, the show functions under the assumption that this is a Christian god. That's the religion Miles grew up with. His father and sister are still practicing in that faith as well despite the tension it has created in their relationships with Miles. This show absolutely presents a diverse New York - especially with its casting of the main characters. However, it could be a massive mistake for Miles not to explore what the possible existence of a God guiding him on this journey means to the various faiths throughout the world.