What is "The Chosen?"
In times of great stress and unrest, it's critical that we take time to make sure we're healthy both mentally and physically. I've written about the Theology of Rest in this blog before, and this ties in to that a bit. We all owe it to ourselves (and the people we live with) to intentionally take time away for self-edification and renewal. I want to talk with you a bit today about "The Chosen," a 2019 TV show that I've been watching recently, and why you (as a Catholic) should watch it ASAP.
For those of you who haven't heard of "The Chosen," it's billed as "the first multi-season show about the life of Christ." That might not sound all that special, but think about it: in what forms of media have you seen Jesus portrayed?
Movies, animated shorts, paintings, radio programs, songs, sure. But a show? That's a different animal entirely. The average 5-Season network TV show has about 20 episodes per season, averaging around 40 minutes per episode. That translates to about 67 hours of footage, exponentially more than your average 2-hour movie.
That's what sets TV shows apart from other media. TV shows are, in my opinion, better than any other form of media at fleshing out characters. Walter White, Sam Malone, Michael Scott, Robin Scherbatsky, Cersei Lannister, and Cosmo Kramer are all icons of American pop culture because we've spent so much time with them. Watching characters interact season after season helps us to become invested in them and care more about what goes on in their lives.
This is the potential of "The Chosen": to take these Biblical, historical figures like Jesus, the Twelve Apostles, and Mary Magdalene and make them living, breathing characters that we can see and root for on our screen. Do yourself a favor and consider the story of Jesus' life from a non-religious perspective for a moment.
There's love, loyalty, betrayal, battles, politics, despair, resurrection, joy, and a LOT more. Completely absent any religious significance, the story of Jesus is wildly entertaining! So why is this important? As Catholics, we hear the story of Jesus over and over again.
From our parents telling us bits and pieces as children, to hearing the Gospel readings each Sunday at mass, to the more targeted study of religious education (plus classes in school, if you went to Catholic school), we are exposed to this story hundreds of times. Sadly, this can cause it to become routine and less meaningful for us.
This is why "The Chosen" is such a unique piece of media and an important watch for Catholics. It takes this story we've heard over and over again and shows it to us through a fresh lens. We meet the Apostles as PEOPLE, not mythical do-gooders who never sinned. In the very first episode, we're introduced to Peter, the first pope, through a fistfight! The point is, it's fresh. It's different. And it's really darn good.
How good you ask? 9.8 on IMDb good. That's the highest-rated TV show on IMDb, ever. Period. I can be a bit of a TV snob sometimes. I feel very strongly that it's hard to overcome poor production values or a lack of understanding of what makes media compelling with a good message, and that's why "The Chosen" sticks out to me so much.
Aside from the Catholic angle, aside from showing us Jesus and His followers in a much-needed new light, it's just plain good! The show is well-acted, the dialogue well-written, and the cinematography is top notch. I haven't even seen the entire first season yet, but I have been blown away.
This show has moved me to tears with its portrayal of Jesus and His kindness, but also made me chuckle at Peter's hotheadedness and Matthew's germaphobia. It approaches the life of Jesus from a completely different angle than what we're used to, and I'd highly recommend it to any Catholic (or TV junkie) looking for something to get invested in.
Even as things start to open up more across Connecticut, many of us are still under increased stress due to the ongoing pandemic. While the outlook is becoming brighter, it's still important to take time to recharge your batteries. I'd strongly recommend that you check out "The Chosen" as a way to unwind in the coming weeks. It's a fantastic show from a TV perspective, and it can stir you up in your faith as well.
The show is available on Youtube for free, and I'll link the show's website below if you're interested in purchasing the first season (it's entirely crowdfunded, so you'd be helping to produce the second season if you bought it).
I hope to see you all at mass very soon. Stay safe and God bless,