The scenes in movies and TV that once inspired horror—the clanking of demons possessing a young girl’s body, grim prophecies of the number 666, preachers warning horrific gatherings of the “Father of Lies”—now seem outdated.
Described as “X-Files” meets “The Exorcist”, the elegant procedural style follows the adventures of David (Mike Coulter), a Roman Catholic priest who teams up with Christine (Katia Herbers), a skeptical turned clinical psychologist, and Ben (Asif Mandvi) ), a tech-savvy atheist, to investigate mysterious events on behalf of the Catholic Church. Their task is to expose or prove the veracity of alleged miracles, demonic possessions, and other unexplained phenomena.
However, “Evil” is more than just vague entertainment. In three ways, it also provides an unlikely deliverance from some of America’s most feared divisions.
It shows that we don’t need to own up to politics
It is one of the modern forms of possession in which you cannot summon a priest to battle.
A friend or relative goes down a political rabbit hole. They are preoccupied with political conspiracy theories. They are anxiously watching the cable news. You can’t talk about politics or religion with them anymore, because you don’t recognize the person you knew before.
When modern politics turns into a battle between good and evil, it is difficult to find examples of people who are not divided by their differences.
Not so in “evil”. The three main characters in the show are separated by race, culture, and religious beliefs. Yet they deeply respect, listen and support each other. They change each other’s opinions. They laugh at each other. The warmth of their friendships is one of the pillars of the show.
In a pivotal scene in Season 3 of “Evil,” David, a Catholic priest, takes skeptical psychologist Kristen aside to mend the rift.
He told her, “I know you don’t believe in God, but I do.” “And that requires work beyond what we have…When God requires something of me, I must obey.”
“I hope you understand,” she says, crying.
David assures her that she does not have to understand or embrace his faith. What matters is that she knows how much he cares about her, despite their differences.
In today’s polarized cultural climate, this spectacle can be considered a miracle.
In a subtle way, the show offers an alternative model of how people in contemporary America remain close even when they differ.
“It was intentional,” says Robert King, part of the husband-and-wife team that created and produced Evil. (Robert and his wife, Michelle King, are also the authors of two acclaimed series: “The Good Wife” and “The Good Fight.”)
Michelle is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. She believes that science and psychology provide answers to what some call evil.
Her husband has different beliefs.
“I’m from a Catholic family,” says Robert King, who says he believes in personal evil and demons. “I think the world is under the umbrella of original sin.”
Their series is also a reflection of the couple’s relationship. Robert is a Roman Catholic and Michelle is a secular Jew. During their three decades of marriage, they discussed many of the issues explored on the show.
“We wanted to show that people can have different views of faith and can still have a meaningful dialogue,” says Robert King.
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There was a time when the rise of the internet was met with optimism. Advertisements spread enthusiastically about the “global village”. Defenders said it would bring the world closer. Now that belief seems as outdated as the classic horror movie “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.”
There is a growing realization that social media can undermine people’s mental health and pose a threat to democracy. The advent of the internet has entrenched the rule of dictators through what some call “digital tyranny”.
Part of what makes “Evil” so effective is that it fuses traditional horror elements with the contemporary evils lurking online.
In one of the episodes, a possessed priest is believed to be possessed. But the real culprit is online gambling addiction.
In another photo, two boys are terrorized by an entity that haunts them at night. But the evil source turns out to be someone who wants to raise their profile on a social platform which is a disguised version of TikTok.
The show tackles other modern horrors: gun violence, racism, and the fear — exacerbated by Roe’s turn against Wade — that women no longer control their bodies.
She does this by putting her messages into chilling and unpredictable stories. It gives way to personal evil. The show also embraces paradox: some seemingly supernatural events turn out to have rational explanations, while others are left open.
He says the show reflects today’s political climate, in which people often disagree on basic facts. Some say the 2020 presidential election was stolen; Others do not. Some believe the fetus has a soul; Others do not. Some believe the news is false; Others do not.
He adds that the show emphasizes both believers and non-believers.
“It made the contrast a bit of entertainment,” he says. “That’s the beauty of entertainment. It’s a great way to engage these questions, and[the audience]can think about it independently at home.”
He portrays organized religion as a force for good, not merely a division
“Every hero gets boring in the end.”
This quote from nineteenth-century philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson reflects a truism about the horror genre: people are more fascinated by villains than heroes. Horror franchises, such as “Alien,” “Predator,” “Halloween,” and Hannibal Lecter franchises, are built around bad guys. Many actors say they’d rather play villains than heroes.
Those who attempt to portray the good in a presentation of faith also face another challenge: the growing mistrust of organized religion. The sex scandal of the clergy in the Roman Catholic Church, the growth of white Christian nationalism, and ecclesiastical divisions over issues such as racism and abortion have alienated many Americans from organized religion.
But “Evil” does something bold. Institutional religion is portrayed as a force for good. Its hero is a devout Catholic priest, and he mostly portrays members of the Catholic Church as good and well-meaning people.
“The show isn’t just about the supernatural – it offers hope,” Faust told CNN. “It shows that material things are not satisfied. That’s why I think people in the world are so frustrated [the show] It makes us think of things that really satisfy.”
One critic believes that the show’s portrayal of David, could help bolster the image of the Catholic leaders.
The series also makes goodness compelling through the character of Sister Andrea, a nondescript little nun who is often seen holding a broom. However, she is also the series’ spiritual force, someone whose glowing faith makes demons shiver.
Sister Andrea could have been portrayed in a sincere way, but she is one of the most fun and lovable characters on the show.
Michelle King credits the character’s charm to the actress who plays her, Andrea Martin.
Evil can’t, at least for now. The show was renewed for a fourth season.
It is fitting that the show is shown on Sunday nights. It offers something to those who believe that humanity survives, as Robert King puts it, “under the umbrella of original sin.” It also offers something for those who are more interested in the horrors of the contemporary world.
When a TV show can talk to so many people at such a divided time in our history and show how we can be different without becoming mortal enemies, it’s not evil. this is good.