FAITH & FAME: CBS’ Evil Explores Supernatural, Science, and Why People Do Bad Things

Written by: Meagan Lynn – October 10th, 2019 6:45am PT

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Is social media turning the world evil? That is one of many questions posed in the new CBS drama, Evil, a Halloween season premiere promising to be anything but jump scares and cheap thrills. 

The series is a modern-age Scooby Doo; part MythBusters and part NCIS, but the mysteries go far deeper than catching bad guys in masks. Evil features an unlikely crew of detectives: Kristen (Katja Herbers), the skeptical forensic psychologist, priest-in-training David (Mike Colter) and  carpenter Ben (Aasif Mandvi) as they investigate the Catholic Church’s backlog of unexplained mysteries. Together, the group works to assess alleged miracles, supposed hauntings and cases of possession for validity; can these incidents be explained away with science, or is something supernatural lurking below the surface?

In the series premiere, Kristen, David and Ben work to unravel the motives of a serial killer, seeking to determine if he’s possessed by a demon as his defense claims, or merely a psychopath trying to get off easy with an insanity plea. 

“The world is getting worse, because evil is no longer isolated. Bad people are talking to each other. They’re connected,” David says. 

“Through social media?” Kristen asks. “Yes.”

“The idea for the show really came out of a conversation that Robert and I have been having for the last 30 years,” show creator Michelle King explained to The Christian Post. “That is, we both recognize that there’s evil around us but we don’t necessarily see it coming from the same place.”

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Evil isn’t the first joint project for husband and wife duo Robert and Michelle King. The couple are currently working on CBS All-Access Drama The Good Fight, a follow-up to their hit show The Good Wife. This show stands out from the rest, however, in that its a direct reflection of their own beliefs. Robert is a devout Catholic, while Michelle is a self-described “secular Jew.” Evil is a chance for them to dive deeper into the religion versus science debate than they have before.

“Whenever we indulged religion in The Good Wife, it resulted in interesting debates and discussions. In that show, we were playing the comedy of a mother who is atheist whose daughter starts to believe. So many people in real life are trying to deal with these issues,” Robert told The Federalist.

With contrasting personal beliefs, it can leave people wondering how Robert and Michelle make their marriage work. In an age of “cancel culture” and a divisive political climate that pits people against each other, Michelle says she hopes the show serves as an example of how people with different viewpoints can coexist. 

“We wanted people with very strong beliefs that were different from each other but that could listen to each other and be respectful of each other. Because it feels as though there’s a lot of disagreement in the world that is not respectful and does not involve listening,” Michelle told The Christian Post. 

“I think we found a good working relationship, and what’s helpful with this kind of show is that there’s a way to write that through to put it in the lives of the characters you’re inventing,” Robert added. 

Part of what makes their marriage work, the couple says, is a respect for each other’s beliefs. That’s something Michelle promises is reflected in the show. 

“I actually am concerned that people might get scared by the title. But that said, I do believe that if anyone were to watch an episode, they would recognize that religion is being treated with a lot of respect. So often on TV, people who are religious or have religious ideals are patronized or made villainous, and we’re doing just the opposite.”

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Despite its wicked title, Robert assures that Evil is, at its heart, a show about faith and the real questions that come with it. 

“This show is really about both sides of the question. The second episode is about miracles. There’s an episode that is completely asking, ‘Is there a prophecy post-revelation, post-New Testament?’” Robert said. “I think some of these questions are interesting and challenging, and shouldn’t be separated from entertainment. I think the purpose of entertainment is to not just satisfy but to challenge, and I think there’s some challenging questions about miracles that are not binary.”

“I have a family that was very sick, who are the holiest people I know; I couldn’t think of people who are more deserving of miracles than anyone else in the world. So why is a miracle not available there but is available somewhere else? That’s a question from someone of faith. So I do think people of faith may want to tune in to the show because it addresses those conflicts in the show and addresses issues of faith in a complex way.”

On the science side of the coin, Robert says he believes the factual elements of the show will connect with people of faith as well as nonreligious individuals. 

“I love the fact that religious people who are strong believers really can understand the science involved in, for example, quantum mechanics or something like that. They don’t see it as completely irrelevant to their lives. They see it as a way to understand the world God has made.”

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Before Evil’s first screening at Comic-Con, the Kings promised this show won’t be following an “exorcism-of-the-week” format, going much deeper than the scares of stereotypical horror. Beyond uncovering miracles and hauntings, the duo hope to explore how evil infiltrates politics, among other aspects of everyday life. Robert says they’re not afraid to touch controversial subjects. 

“For producers who are secular, they make a calculation not to discuss religion, which is seen as political—because of recent efforts the Republican Party has made to align itself with religion,” Robert told The Federalist. “It’s similar to issues of race. So many people are wary about [race-based conflict], shows never attempt to portray both sides of stories. There is such an abundance of fear that people will be outraged by religion in some way. In this show, these ideas of faith and science are the river that our characters swim in.”

Evil promises to provoke discussion around complex issues; why do people do bad things? Does good truly triumph over evil? Why do some people get a miracle and others don’t? Is there such a thing as a compassionate God looking out for us? But as for answers, the Kings will admit they don’t always have them. 

I suspect this show swims more in the waters of questions than answers,” Michelle said.

When you start down that rabbit hole, you start asking more and more questions… which is what we’re doing with Evil,” Robert said. “Perhaps it’s not arriving at a certain conclusion, but we keep asking questions.”

As with religion, they know sometimes you just have to have faith in the journey and trust you’ll get to the desired destination in due time.

Evil airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.

About The Author:

Meagan Lynn is a host at AfterBuzz TV and Elon University graduate with a degree in journalism. She loves singing, listening to inspirational podcasts and watching reality TV.

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