After two seasons, CBS has announced it will cancel the series God Friended Me, a hilariously misguided show about an atheist podcaster who begins to doubt his non-faith when he gets a Facebook friend request from “God.”
Despite being a network show that still got millions of viewers each week, the show’s ratings had been on a slide. Plus it was hardly a show people were talking about the next day. No one will be binge-watching this series during the next pandemic.
Still, the two-hour finale will air on April 26.
You can see the problem right there. A thoughtful conversation about faith would at least involve some discomfort for a lot of people. The show never did that. As I wrote when it premiered, religion may have been the vehicle that propelled the show forward, but it was never actually the point of it. When the topic came up, it was always in the direction of faith or at least the idea that there’s a Higher Power looking after everyone. Even the main character’s explanation for why he’s an atheist was as dull as I prayed for something and it didn’t happen. It’s not like there was ever an extended story arc about the serious problems with religion or religious belief, much less the problems with any specific denomination.
“We’re extremely proud of the unique concept and uplifting stories ‘God Friended Me’ has told over the past two seasons,” CBS and Warner Bros. Television said in a joint statement. “We thank the brilliant cast, writers, production team and crew for a show that stirred thoughtful conversation about faith, life and happiness, and made viewers feel good at the end of each episode. The creative team behind the show has one last ‘friend suggestion’ in mind, as well as an ending we hope brings a satisfying conclusion to Miles’ journey in search of the God Account.”
What could have been a fascinating vehicle for theological discussion dabbled in stereotypes — Indian hacker friend, pretty white girl, dad who’s a priest, etc. — and ended up going nowhere truly interesting.
It’s not too late though! The show could do something wildly interesting in its series finale by revealing that “God” is just a random person — the main character’s nosy neighbor or something — and all the characters could have a good laugh about why they would ever have thought “God” was actually God. But after two seasons of the same formula, why would audiences expect anything challenging?