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God Friended Me Review: God-Questioning Drama Is a Predictable Muck

But Brandom Micheal Hall is great!

Keisha Hatchett

[Some spoilers for the premiere episode of God Friended Me, which is available for viewing on CBS.com, follow in this review. Many of the spoilers are also in the widely viewed trailer for the show.]

Coming off the heels of the unceremoniously canceled ABC sitcom The Mayor(RIP), Brandon Micheal Hall brings his irresistible charms to God Friended Me, a CBS drama that feels like Touched by an Angel revived through a millennial lens.

Co-creator Steven Lilien said he wanted the series to be a source of hope during this chaotic time of political and social division and for his part, those efforts are laudable. However, the show's potential as a worthwhile experience is marred by frustratingly convoluted and melodramatic plot points that take the show from sweet and sentimental to a lackluster, predictable muck.

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The story follows Miles (Hall), an outspoken atheist who hopes to bring his podcast The Millennial Prophet to the big leagues at Sirius. But when he receives a random Facebook friend request by someone claiming to be God, he sets out to uncover the person behind the mysterious account. The quest puts him in the path of Cara (Violett Beane), a journalist struggling to find her next big story and reclaim her spot at the top of her company's leaderboard. What unfolds next is a journey of self-discovery as a series of coincidences begin to hack away at Miles' denial of the existence of a higher being. By the end, it's hinted that Miles and Cara are meant to help different strangers suggested by the God account, and there's your procedural structure for the rest of the series.

Complicating things is whatever force that's pushing Miles towards his destiny through a series of pranks like changing his thermostat and replacing his podcast presentation for Sirius with a sermon on faith. Whether it's an omnipotent being or the workings of an extremely talented hacker remains to be seen, but what's clear is that this mystery is one of the most interesting things about the show.

​Brandon Micheal Hall, God Friended Me

Brandon Micheal Hall, God Friended Me

Jonathan Wenk/CBS

What also makes it palatable is its super-talented cast that also includes Scandal alum Joe Morton as Miles' reverend father looking to reconnect with his son. Their strained relationship adds some much-needed depth to a series that might be too saccharine for its own good. But what's most commendable is Hall's exuberant charisma while delivering some truly eyeroll-worthy exposition -- the reveal that Miles lost his faith when his mom died in a car accident as she left the hospital after going into remission for cancer is laughable at best.

And the fact that such a plot point is meant to be taken seriously exposes one of the show's most glaring shortcomings: It's not very funny. It's understandable that this drama about finding faith and being a good Samaritan would want to be taken seriously but, honestly, God randomly friending you on Facebook is... funny! There should be more humor! The easiest way to fix this is with Miles' supremely likable hacker friend Rakesh (Suraj Sharma) who lights up every scene that he's in.

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But a lack of humor is not where the show falters the most. God Friended Me loses steam in the second half with contrived plot points that extend far beyond the realm of believability. In the same episode, we find out that Cara's mother nursed Miles' mom while she was sick and then see Cara reunite with her estranged parent before learning that her mom has another family. But then the show dives headfirst into nonsensical territory by having an upset Cara run off, get hit by a car and then be helped by the suicidal doctor that Miles saved at the beginning of the episode. Don't get me wrong, I love my trainwreck TV (I stuck through all eight seasons of The Vampire Diaries, after all) but even this is too much.

At its core, God Friended Me is a heartwarming series that falls flat on the execution. But if it can learn to laugh at itself and stick to simplicity, it just might stand a chance at survival.

God Friended Me premieres Sunday, Sept. 30 at 8/7c on CBS.

[Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS.]