ABC premiered their new fantasy dramedy Kevin (Probably) Saves the World Tuesday, October 3, and the entire episode was a bit confusing. Though it seems to have some potential, it’s also filled with seriously flawed theology.
I’ll spare you all of the “probably” puns (you’ll probably find plenty of them in other reviews of the “Pilot” episode) and get right to it. Jason Ritter plays Kevin Finn, a lost, struggling, self-centered but well-meaning soul who recently failed a suicide attempt, and who goes to live with his twin sister Amy (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) and niece Reese (Chloe East), who lost their husband and father respectively less than two years ago.
Here’s where it gets confusing: 35 meteors hit the earth, all within 24 hours, and of course, one hits near Kevin. He and Reese go out to investigate the scene (Amy, who happens to be a professor who investigates meteor activity, is away at work when this happens). When Kevin touches the meteor, he is sent hurtling through the air and loses consciousness.
He wakes up back at the wheel of his car, and Reese tells him he put the meteor in the backseat. They drive back home and later in the night, the car starts shaking, lighting up and the car alarm sounds. A “warrior from God” named Yvette (Kimberly Hebert Gregory), who only Kevin can see, appears and tells him that he has been chosen and that he needs to transform himself.
Kevin passes back out and wakes up to Yvette making a smoothie for him in Amy’s kitchen, where she tells him, “In every generation since the dawn of man, there are 36 righteous souls in the world. And they protect humanity by merely existing. Now, there's only one…You, Kevin -- You are the last of the righteous…But you're not alone. I'm a messenger from God…I'm here to guide and protect you.”
So, here’s our first problem. Aside from the fact that Yvette uses curse words, something a real messenger of God would never do, there’s the fact that there’s no way God would choose a man who lives mostly for himself as a righteous soul. Kevin lives his life in very unrighteous ways. He even admits that he’s not righteous. So, unless the show is trying to depict a fictional, non-Biblical God, there’s no way this man would be the last of 36 righteous souls on earth.
There’s also another very key component to being righteous that Kevin lacks. Belief in God:
Yvette: I imagine you have questions. Go ahead.
Kevin: You... Threw a truck.
Yvette: Is that your question?
Kevin: Maybe? No! No. MM. Are you an angel?
Yvette: Angels are a human construct. Let's just say I'm a warrior for God.
Kevin: Oh. Can I see your wings?
Yvette: Okay, cool, we're done with questions. Here's what you need to understand. You are the last of the righteous. You have a sacred mission to restore balance to the world by anointing 35 new souls. Got it? Got it?
Kevin: Um... Nope. Nope. I definitely don't "Got it." Um, look, I'm not righteous, okay? Go down the street to the church, I guarantee you'll find a bunch of people more righteous than me.
Yvette: Can't you see the gift that you've been given? To serve God. To protect humanity. What more could one want from existence?
Kevin: I can think of millions of things right now. Uh, money, naps, girls, sushi, muscles, uh, an awesome electric guitar. Guitar lessons.
Yvette: This is gonna be a problem.
Kevin: Hey, here's another problem. I don't believe in God. Hi. Uh...I just love this song. I just don't know the lyrics. 'Cause I -- I don't...
Yvette: God does not stop existing based on what you believe.
Kevin: Yeah, well, I don't believe that, either.
Yvette: Okay. Well -- Okay. We need to start building up your spiritual power so you can find the righteous. That's all. That's all.
Kevin: Yeah, but you say that -- I don't know what that means, because –
Yvette: That's all. Just trust me!
Yeah. Okay. A self-serving atheist is the last righteous soul on earth. Right. At least the writers put in that great line on how God doesn’t stop existing just because someone doesn’t believe in Him. But there was the part about angels being a human concept, which is definitely contrary to God's Word. So it's kind of a wash.
Back to the confusing storyline. Kevin’s mission is to find and anoint 35 other righteous souls. So why are there 35 other meteors? Are they supposed to help lead Kevin to the others? If so, wouldn’t that mean that those souls have already been chosen? Which would mean Kevin isn’t really finding and anointing anyone, God already did. Which would actually make sense, so I have a feeling that’s not the case. See? Confusing.
Yvette then tells Kevin exactly how he is to carry out his mission:
Yvette: The only job you have in life for the foreseeable future is to build up your spiritual powers through acts of kindness and selflessness. Now, after you've done so, God is gonna show you how to find the other righteous, and then you'll anoint them with an embrace...You've spent your life focused on things that don't really matter like money, power, sex, external appearance, but none of that's made you happy. So, once you let go of all the superficial trappings, you'll feel a peace that you've never known.
Later, after Amy tells Kevin that she can’t have him around Reese or herself if he’s going to continue to be irresponsible and self-centered, Kevin starts to pack his bags to leave. Yvette tries to stop him, telling him what’s at stake:
Yvette: Do you understand what's at stake here?
Kevin: The world is not gonna end if I go home.
Yvette: There are worse things than the end of the world, but you already know that, Kevin. Think about how you felt when you tried to take your own life. Now imagine the whole of humanity feeling that way. That is what the world faces without the righteous.
That’s a very fitting message at a time when there is so much hate and violence in the world. But to suspend belief and try to accept that someone who denies the existence of God and only lives for himself is the one who God has chosen as “righteous” and who will save humanity? Yeah, not happening.
The show’s creators Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas were interviewed by Variety magazine, explaining the purpose of the storyline and plot. Butters said, “This idea came from an earlier idea that we had working on where if the messiah (sic) showed up today, no one would believe it. It would be like, ‘Fake news!’ I don’t think that’s a commentary on god (sic) or spirituality, I think it’s a commentary on society. We want to see magic in the world, but we don’t believe it when we see it.”
But God isn’t “magic.” He’s very real. Perhaps the show creators are the ones who need to work on unbelief? I also noticed the words “Messiah” and “God” were not capitalized either, leading me to wonder once again just which God they are referring to…the one, true Biblical God? Or a fictional one?
I don’t mind the idea of a lost soul finding the real God and a moral purpose in his life. And it's wonderful to see awareness of suicide and mental health take center stage in a storyline, which will hopefully remove the stigma surrounding both.
Despite his failures and weaknesses, Kevin is a very vulnerable character with a lot of potential to change for the better. That actually could make for a beautiful story and one that might make this show watchable despite its very egregious theological flaws.
There were many touching scenes in this premiere episode that focused on love, family, kindness, and humanity that were very meaningful and give hope that this could potentially be a great show, including this scene at an airport as Kevin runs away from Amy and Reese, feeling not good enough for them. Reese shows up at the airport to stop him and bring him back home, but Kevin suddenly feels moved to approach a nearby stranger:
Kevin: I'm about to do something weird.
Reese: You only ever do weird things. Kevin –
Kevin: Hi! Sorry. I'm, uh -- I'm Kevin. Sorry to -- to bother you. I know this sounds crazy, but I feel like I'm supposed to... Or like... Uh... Sorry. Um... Three weeks ago, I-I took a bunch of pills, and I tried to kill myself. Uh, I-I'd just got fired, and my girlfriend left me, and -- I-I don't know if I ever really loved her, and I neglected the most important relationship of my life, my amazing, crazy sister who all she ever did was love me, and every time I talked to her, I felt guilty about it, so I just stopped talking to her. I'm not a good person. But, um... Something has changed. And I feel like maybe there's a point. Maybe there's -- there's something to live for. And I'm -- I'm -- I'm getting a second chance. And I can't explain why, but you're a part of that. So, um... If you don't mind, can I -- can I hug you? Quick hug, no weird stuff. Is that okay? Just a -- That is perfect. That's the perfect end to this stupid trip. Oh, yeah, yeah. Yes, I'll, uh -- I'll buy your -- your pencil. Actually, you know what? Just take it all. Sorry to bother you.
Reese: What was that? What just happened?
Woman: 13, passenger Stanley, please report to Gate...
Reese: That guy...
Kevin: Was wearing so much Drakkar Noir.
Reese: You're a jerk!
Kevin: Reese, it was a ton. I can taste it.
Reese: So, what happened?
Kevin: I just... I understand now.
Heartwarming, right? I felt the same way. Until Yvette announced that the man was not actually one of the righteous. Huh? Back to confusion.
At the end of the day, we are all human and we're all sinners. Following God isn't about being perfect. But righteousness is, at least as is humanly possible, and therin lies the problem with this overall plot. Only time will tell if this will be a heartwarming show with meaning that ends up honoring God, or more typical Hollywood drivel that attempts to tear Him down amid baffling, inconsistent storylines.
So far, it unfortunately appears as if it will most likely be the latter.