CMI On TV – ‘Save Me’ Premier Doesn’t Trash Religion – or Take it Seriously
What happens when Beth Harper, a ditzy mom living a life of debauchery and drunkenness, suddenly survives a choking experience and starts hearing prophecy from God?
For a sitcom centered on a religious conversion experience, NBC’s new show “Save Me” has surprisingly little bite. More traditional or charismatic believers will find little they can relate to, and those inclined to mock traditional religious beliefs will find little to laugh at. And it showed, as the “Save Me” premiere marked NBC’s lowest rated series launch since last summer’s “Saving Hope.” In fact, the network has already given up on “Save Me.”
Although the show treats her relationship with God according to her character – an airheaded blonde – it does not dismiss it outright. As such, it’s hard to tell exactly what the point is, and what’s so funny about it, when the prospect of God using Beth as a prophet is neither dismissed out of hand with Hollywood’s disdain for evangelical Christianity, nor seriously embraced as a matter of eternal significance. We find her offering up prayers like this one:
It appears that she finally found a place where she belongs when she visits church – one conveniently on the more charismatic side just like her. But when one of the congregants comes to give his pastor a divine message from his bobble head dog, she laughs it off. Her messages from God aren’t crazy like that. God actually talks to me in my mind, Beth says in one of her more theologically-charged moments:
The problem God is so loosely defined and unsubstantial that moments intended to be humorous fall flat because it’s unclear who, or what, exactly “Save Me” is mocking. For one, God somehow speaks to her in a gender-neutral voice—clearly a jab at Christianity’s alleged sexism and masculine God. At one point this “He/She” God appears to have struck her husband’s mistress with lightning after she crashes in front of their house and threatens Beth because Beth’s change of heart is threatening their affair.
Both seem to mock traditional faith, but the two premier episodes of “Save Me” end with a strange sense that this crazy religious experience that everyone thought was so absurd might actually be a good thing. She announces that she wants to turn from her past life of drunkenness and unfaithfulness and love her husband again, effectively preventing a divorce. She starts caring for her daughter and breaks off her daughters’ fling with the boy next door. She tries to return a stolen latte maker to a neighbor. And she invites all of her neighbors over for a potluck, trying to rebuild her old community of friends.
Make no mistake; these are all good things that most Christians believe should be connected to a rekindled relationship with God. We just have no idea who this God is and what “He/She” wants with a random suburban mom named Beth.