‘The Mayor’ alum stars in spiritual new CBS drama
Of all the friend requests you might not expect on social media, one from the deity has to rank high.
Nevertheless, it’s received by an atheistic podcast host – played by Brandon Micheal Hall, of the unusual middle-name spelling and last season’s “The Mayor” – in “God Friended Me,” a CBS series premiering Sunday, Sept. 30 (though the opening episode has been available on various digital platforms since the end of August). Hall’s character Miles unites with a journalist (Violett Beane, “The Flash”) to determine whether the heavenly account is for real, doing good deeds for others along the way.
It can’t be a coincidence “God Friended Me” inherits the time slot “Touched by an Angel” long had, though the new show also has an edge, defined in part (at least in the early going) by Miles’ conflict with his minister father (“Scandal” Emmy winner Joe Morton). Also suggesting its approach, the series was created by “Gotham” and “Hawaii Five-0” alumni Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt.
“A few years ago,” Wynbrandt recalls, “I was driving over to Steven’s house, and I got a push notification on my phone for a friend suggestion from an old friend. And a thought occurred to me in that moment: ‘What if someone claiming to be God sent me a friend request on Facebook?’ As a nonbeliever, it sort of struck me as, ‘Wow, that would be an interesting conflict.’ And I called Steven, and he said to me, ‘That’s a really cool idea. What if they sent friend suggestions every week (of people) that these people could help?’ So that was the genesis of ‘God Friended Me.’ ”
Hall’s mother is a minister, so he has the background to state, “Church is the ultimate theater. You have a stage. You have the text. You have the actors. And you have the message that’s coming through. So, for me, that was my entrance into what I’m doing now … watching my mother and using that as a gateway into making her laugh, because I used to take the church and make it funny for her, to make it a little bit more enlightening for her.
“For this role, because I had such a deep connection to what I thought church and God was to me, this script did exactly what Bryan and Steven set out to do,” adds Hall, “which was to raise a conversation about what is religion and spirituality, and what that means to having an individual find their own path to God. For me, it has been enlightening, and it’s a continuing process. And it’s made me continue to question my relationship and to gain a closer relationship with my spiritual groundedness.”