Why You Should Watch “The Chosen”

Greetings, Vulcans.

*two fingered salute*

I am here to persuade you to watch a piece of media acted, directed, produced, and funded by evangelical Christians.

Now, knowing how I, your friendly neighborhood progressive Catholic, feel about Christian media in general (Christian fiction romance novels and Christian movies in particular), this may come as–ahem!–a surprise to some of you.

john mulaney

For far too long, the Christian film industry and book industry have used their religious mission as an excuse to pass off the worst kind of cheap storytelling.  Static characters, cardboard villains, contrived plots, overwrought romance that somehow manages to be both obsessively “pure” and hypersexualized … cliché upon cliché upon cliché, but iT’S FINE, BECAUSE AT LEAST WE STUCK SOME BIBLE VERSES IN THERE, RIGHT?

john mulaney

Fortunately, The Chosen is none of these things.  The Chosen is a biblical drama, sure, like so much biblical fiction before it–but first and foremost?  It’s a story driven by complex, layered, flawed human beings.  That’s what sets it apart.  You don’t have to be Christian to care about these characters.  You don’t have to be Christian to get hooked, to get invested in their struggles and their turmoil.  You just gotta be human.  That’s the real litmust test: and The Chosen is probably the first Christian-centric story I’ve encountered which can pass it.

So let’s talk about this show, y’all.  Buckle up.  I have Thoughts™.

On the surface, Season 1 of The Chosen is simple.  There’s a new traveling preacher in town.  His name is Jesus.  No one knows exactly who he is, or what he’s doing.  Slowly, very slowly, he collects a motley crowd about him.  Misfits, all of them; from the prostitute possessed by demons, to the fisherman behind on his taxes, to the tax collector hated by his fellow Jews (and by the aforementioned delinquent fisherman most of all).  Even the wealthy, respected rabbi with a boatload of questions about whether the Jewish faith could be “something more,” finds himself drawn to Jesus.

You know their names.  You know their stories.  Or do you?

Mary Magdalen, Simon Peter, Matthew, Nicodemus …

The Chosen is slow-burn storytelling at its finest.  For those of us used to rushing through the Gospels to get to the good stuff, they “barely get started,” ending Season 1 just after Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman at the well.  But the beauty of  this relaxed approach is, it frees us to delve deep into each disciple’s life.  We get to see who they are as people.  Their fears.  Their wants.  Their struggles.  The messes they bury themselves in without Jesus, and the way they (gradually, painfully) start to change, with him.

Just one example?  We get two! whole!! episodes!!! devoted to Simon Peter’s tax problem and the stupid reckless schemes he floats to get out of paying, digging a hole so deep, it takes a literal miracle from You-Know-Who to dig him out.  Long build-up, to be sure, but in the end, it paid off.  By golly, did it pay off.

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men …”  

*goosebumps*

Simon Peter
Simon: Wasn’t.Expecting.That.MP3

Matthew, too, who is canonically autistic, sneered at by the townsfolk, and rejected by his own parents (precious smol bean), gets an A M A Z I N G “call” scene.  I just … I just.  I’m pretty sure I cried.  100% will never recover from the way Jesus shuts up Simon being all “but he’s a tax collector!! he works for the Enemy!! he’s Evol!!!”  “Get used to different,” Jesus says, eyes twinkling.  I am: dead. 

(can I give a shout-out to these writers for daring to portray Jesus with an actual sense of humor??? yassssssssss, please.)

Furthermore.  I am enormously grateful for the way The Chosen centers women, centers female characters, in a story that’s traditionally focused on men.  Mary Magdalen gets called first.  That’s huge.  Her conversion comes at the very beginning, before any of the others.  She is the first of the “lost sheep.”  Her decision to give Jesus her heart is immediate, total, the second he drives out her demons.  In later episodes, Mary stands by amused, watching the more stubborn guys (looking at you, PETER) wrestle with the question, “to follow or not to follow?”  She’s a beautiful woman with a heart for peace and eyes like jewels (seriously, this actress is gorgeous), and I am in love with her.

nicodemus and mary
Nicodemus: I.Have.Questions.MP3

Also, Jesus calls his mother “the most powerful person I know.”  *Catholic fist pump*

xD

They just … they do a really good job with Jesus here, guys.  He’s sweet.  He’s warm.  He’s down to earth.  He loves a good party.  He loves a good joke.  He’s patient, giving, caring, always wants to help, but needs to withdraw from time to time when his “batteries run down” (#we stan Introvert Jesus).  He hugs people.  He laughs.  Sometimes, he cries.

This whole show has an earthy, grounded quality to it, which helps make it relatable for modern viewers, I think.  Little, “insignificant” details, building up to a bigger picture of everyday life.  Matthew has a dog.  Mary Magdalen works in a hair salon.  When we first meet Simon Peter, he’s fixing a street fight so he can make money off his brothers-in-law (BAD SIMON *slaps him*)

But The Chosen is more than just a slice-of-life show about Judea in 30 AD, of course.  It’s about the coming of the Messiah: the redeemer, the king, the great leader.  The One the Jews have waited for, for thousands of years.  That’s precisely why we spend so much time exploring the Hot Mess™ of the disciples’ personal lives.  Getting to know them, in all their brokenness.  Watching these ordinary, humble, screwed-up people discover, not only is the Promised One standing right in front of me (???), but he WANTS ME, he CHOSE ME FOR HIS KINGDOM (????) … it’s frickin surreal.  Guaranteed to make you cry.  

In the final moments of Season 1, the woman at the well whispers, in tears,

“I have been rejected by everyone.”

Jesus looks her dead in the eyes and says,

“But not by the Messiah.”  

She loses her mind, of course.  So do the disciples.  So do I.  So does Barack Obama.  So does Meryl Streep.  So does Kermit the Frog.  So does EVERYONE WITH A PULSE WITHIN SIXTY MILES, BECAUSE IT’S BLEEDING AWESOME.

~~~

the disciples
put down your phone, Peter.  geez.

Please, watch this show.

I promise you won’t regret it.

26 thoughts on “Why You Should Watch “The Chosen”

Add yours

  1. Okay, so this sounds like one of the most amazing things ever!! I am going to definitely watch this now!!!!! I can’t believe I’ve never even heard about it so THANK YOU for this post!

    Like

  2. Your writing always makes me happy. It’s highly opinionated and fierce, but also likable and fun.

    I agree, I wrote off watching this show for about two months after someone mentioned it because — ugh, Christian? Gonna suck. And then the quarantine hit, and Easter crept toward me and I thought: wait, wasn’t there a Jesus show somebody told me about? And the very next day, it shows up on my blog feed as a pastor recommended it. So I watched one episode. Laughed. Cried. Bought the rest. Blabbed about it to everyone I knew. Got as many people hooked as I could. Never looked back. It’s awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ahfjdskfhaldfhdsoif I heard about this recently and am so excited to watch!! But first I gotta finish this brilliant Chinese drama I’m seeing :)) AHHH I’M SO EXCITED after reading your post!! AHHHH!!

    Like

  4. YOU MAKE ME WANT TO WATCH IIIIITTTTTTTTT

    I mean, you already had. We’ve already Discussed. 😉 But my interest keeps growing. I’ve always had this weird “dissonance” when it comes to films/media specifically about Jesus — like, I don’t know whether I’m super comfortable with them for MYSELF or not?? . . . But I also don’t know if that’s a dissonance that springs from a legitimate personal conviction, OR from my knowledge of OTHER PEOPLE’S personal convictions. And, knowing me, we can all guess which it is likely to be. ;-P

    BUT ANYWAY. This was a wonderful review, as always. I’ve seen a few-second clip of the calling of Matthew on Instagram, so it was neat to learn that there were more layers to that that we didn’t get to see in the clip. But even IN the clip, I could see what you mean about the portrayal of Jesus as a full Person with a sense of humor. ;D

    Again I say, I AM VERY INTRIGUED. 😀

    (Also, A++ use of John Mulaney in the beginning.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’M GLAD

      No, I get it!! I’ve always been leery about fictional representations of Jesus, too, because it felt “weird” in my mind … but … I’m pleased with this one. 😉

      Thank you!! Yes, they really do a great job, showing Him as a personality you could “get to know.”

      LOL, yes, I knew you would appreciate that 😉 Our Bae (TM)

      Like

      1. Yep! Plus I get so attached to visual portrayals of characters, and I don’t want any one “fictionalized” version of Jesus to get “stuck” in my head, if that makes sense? But idk. (Have you watched Risen? I thiiiiiiiiink you might like it — it has a little bit of a “Centurion’s Wife” vibe to it. *shrugs*)

        Good, good!

        Haha, indeed. Much love for Mulaney Boy. 😀

        Like

      2. No, that makes sense, I get that!

        I haven’t seen “Risen,” I don’t think I would like it necessarily because (I’ve been told) it’s an almost entirely male cast and that Mary Magdalen only gets a very small part, and we know I don’t do very well with stories like that as a rule 😉

        Yussssss. Much love for the Good Boi. *pats him*

        Like

  5. I have been wondering if this show is worth it — I’ve heard about it and was considering it, but this post is the push to actually sit down and watch it! I totally agree about Christian media. I think a lot of the time people with good intentions use their medium as a sort of tool for evangelism, instead of writing a good story or making a good movie and letting their worldview naturally shine through that. Anyway. This show sounds great and I’ll give it a watch! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great review, Katie! And yes, this show is really good. My husband bought the first season because he had heard good things about it from some of his friends. I was a little unsure about it at first but once we started watching it really pulled me in and I enjoyed it quite a bit! The first episode with Mary Magdalen though! That was so good! Ahhh! I was just waiting through the whole episode for Jesus to come and heal her and then he does! I’m pretty sure it gave me chills the first time I watched that scene. Just the way he calls her buy her name and then quotes the passage from Isaiah to her…so powerful!

    I really like Matthew. He’s probably one of my favorites. And the scene where Jesus calls him is so precious because you could just tell Matthew was longing for that. 🙂

    I like that you get to see Peter’s relationship with his wife, too. I think they did a really good job with that.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: