(Published May 25, 2016)
There’s a new superhero in town, and he’s got a shockingly violent and irreligious sermon to preach.
AMC’s Preacher debuted explosively over the weekend. Predictably, critics loved thepolitically correct, Christian-bashing new show.
Preacher is based off of the 90’s comic of the same name created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. The series’ in-your-face violence, language, and sacrilege garnered a cult-following that has been praying for a successful TV adaptation for the past two decades. And now that it’s finally here, fans can hardly contain themselves.
The Washington Postgushed that “It’s really saying something when a new TV show can, in a single hour, take a weary critic from “Please, Lord, not another series based on a comic book” to a sense of giddy awe and a few hearty hallelujahs, but that’s precisely what the first episode of AMC’s Preacher did.” It also said that “the tone of the show is a perfect pairing of a provocative comic-style narrative and cable-TV sensibility.”
Vanity Fair called the show “rollicking adventurous and a very human—despite the vampire—drama that makes no apologies but welcomes everyone to the party.”
Except, what makes the comics so popular is that they don’t welcome everyone to the party. Anyone adverse to gore and anti-God statements best stay away. And that’s what has also made the TV adaptation so popular with reviewers.
Slate speculated that “this is what makes Preacher such a heretical superbeing text: Superpowers don’t make the characters in Preacher super; they just heighten their flawed, human selves. If we are really made in God’s image, better take a good look around.” Preacher Jesse Custer’s “power” is the ability to make people do exactly what he tells them, which, when taken too literally, definitely makes him fail in the “hero” department. Like when his well-meaning advice to a parishioner to be honest and “give his heart” to his elderly mother leads him to do exactly that. To the horror of everyone in his mother’s nursing home.
A reviewer reassured fans of the comic books that “Preacher is a wildly successful adaptation. For fans of the original series worried that the tone of the comic would be lost… you can rest assured that executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were nothing but faithful…” They added that “Preacher delivers just the right amount of carnage and blasphemous storytelling we were hoping for.”
In the comics that she show is based on, Preacher Jesse Custer’s mission is to find God and kill Him, leaving a slew of carnage in his wake. There’s also a villain named Jesus, who happens to be a pedophile in San Francisco. And though it remains to be seen if the TV adaptation will go that far, the pilot had enough blasphemous bits to keep fans hopeful. Like the sign in front of Jesse’s church that reads “Open your a** and holes to Jesus.” Or Jesse’s belief that prayer is useless because no one is listening. Yeah, there’s a preacher worth following. The more faithful the TV show is to its source, the more disturbing it will be. But that doesn’t seem to bother the critics.
Another wrote that the directors “have succeeded in achieving something quite rare, with a dark comedic, visceral tone and a charming cast so pitch-perfect you’ll be happy it took so long for Preacher to finally make it to the small screen.”
And Variety insisted that “Rogen and Goldberg succeeded in realizing what was heretofore considered to be an impossible project — and they’ve done so with amazing panache.”
The show’s directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are no strangers to controversy. The pair were also behind The Interview, the 2014 film that caused North Korea to throw a fit.
Rogen told The Guardian that “My barometer for controversy has been readjusted in the past few years…Unless a world leader is calling for my head it’s no big deal. If you have nuclear weapons then I’m a little worried … a few angry nerds don’t bother me.”
From reactions to the show’s pilot, it doesn’t look like he’ll have too many angry nerds to deal with. In fact, the reviewers who didn’t enjoy the show’s debut thought that it played it too safe. A critic wrote that “Preacher is a television series that will only be considered a success if it ends up offending — but first, it has to keep people interested long enough to get there.” An exploding Tom Cruise, bazooka-wielding ex-girlfriend, a character named “Arseface” (guess why he has that nickname), and an Irish vampire who, in his introduction to the viewers, kills a guy with a broken bottle and then drinks the dead man’s blood from it weren’t exciting enough, apparently.
But aside from that rare exception, critics just can’t get enough of the blood-soaked slasher-fest that is Preacher.
With all of the glowing reviews, one of the show’s writers speculated that the show might manage to avoid controversy completely, saying that it’s a “busy old year for the religious right. Maybe they’ll have their hands full. Maybe they’ll get around to us eventually. Who knows?”
Hollywood knows that Preacher is not just pushing the limits, but gleefully blowing them up, along with a majority of the characters in the first episode. And they’re hoping no one will notice. Instead of the next best TV masterpiece, this is just one more show to throw on the pile of Tinsel Town trash.
Go to Newsbusters for the original post.