TV Series Review
They say that possession is nine-tenths of the law. But when you possess—or, perhaps, are possessed by—something outside the laws of God and man, does it count? And if that possession could destroy all of creation, shouldn't something be done about you?
That's the conundrum faced by Jesse Custer, the titular preacher for the small town of Annville, Texas.
Jesse's the sort of pastor who would call himself chief among sinners and mean it. His past is filled with questionable moments and unmentionable deeds. (Well, unmentionable in polite company, anyway. But since the show's on AMC, we can almost guarantee a few mentions.) In desperation, he turned to faith and started his very own church. But alas, calling yourself a preacher doesn't guarantee you a spiritually rich life. And it's not long before Jesse begins to lose his newfound faith. He prays to God for help. For a sign. For something.
Then, as if in an answer to prayer, something comes. And Jesse's soon filled with the power of … God?
Um, not exactly.
The Preacher's Genesis
AMC's Preacher departs somewhat from its source material, a comic book series of the same name that was published from 1995 to 2000. But it's already clear that the thing sharing Jesse's body is an entity known as Genesis, which the comic describes as the blasphemous progeny of an angel and demon. Thanks to Genesis, Jesse is able to speak with what seems to be the voice of God. Jesse doesn't use it all the time, mind you. But when he does, his listeners must obey. They literally have no choice.
But while Jesse's intentions seem at least mostly decent, God's so-called voice is far removed from the Heavenly Father's heart. Jesse has the power to make people do bad, bad things. And even when the preacher means well, the being within him may not. Even his innocuous directives can be twisted and corrupted in terrible ways.
Which goes a long way toward explaining why a pair of angels (Fiore and DeBlanc) want to separate Genesis from Jesse and bottle the thing back in the tobacco can from whence it came. And perhaps why Jesse's now hanging out with former flame and apparent assassin Tulip O'Hare and a brogue-accented vampire named Cassidy. It may even explain why, in nearly every episode, audiences are treated to strange, out-of-left-field flashback vignettes featuring the Cowboy, a former Confederate soldier with a particular gift for killing.
And, of course, it also goes a long way toward explaining why Plugged In won't be recommending this show anytime soon.
Preacher isn't completely devoid of merit. Even in the context of its dubious preaching, the well-crafted show offers the occasional snippet of feel-good wisdom. "You can see that I've changed, right?" Jesse asks Tulip (believing that his "gift" is truly from God). "Which means you can change, too. We don't have to be what we've been. You can be good. That's what you want, right? We all want to be good."
But that's pretty much where the positives here end. After all, one should never trust the theology proffered by folks who typically worship the god of ratings and prostate themselves before the idol named Emmy.
Preacher is as content-laden a series as you'll find on basic cable, an hour-long exercise in blood dispersal. People are tortured and die in extremely grotesque ways. In the first four minutes of Preacher's pilot episode, a pastor actually blows up, spattering his congregation with his own gore. Near nudity and sexual couplings are not uncommon, ranging from emotionless rolls in the hay to rape. And while AMC has long paired its reputation for award-winning dramas with searing content, Mad Men and even Breaking Bad feel like after-school specials compared to the giddy grotesqueries of Preacher.
Just how bad, how blasphemous, how bloody is Preacher? Consider: In 2008, HBO turned down an opportunity for its own Preacher series because it was determined to be "just too dark and too violent and too controversial," according to potential producer Mark Steven Johnson.
Jesse, I believe, will likely continue to look for some semblance of faith. But given my lack of faith in this show, I won't be watching to see if he finds it.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer; Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy; Ruth Negga as Tulip O'Hare; Lucy Griffiths as Emily; W. Earl Brown as Hugo Root; Derek Wilson as Donnie Schenck; Ian Colletti as Eugene; Tom Brooke as Fiore; Anatol Yusef as DeBlanc; Graham McTavish as The Cowboy