Robert and Michelle King are the creators of the super-famous The Good Wife. The success of this shows allowed them to experiment a little and produce what, in my opinion, is one of the best political-satirical SF ever: Braindead.
Evil is somehow the love child of the above shows, one one more commercial, the other more revolutionary and surreal, both incredibly well-written.
Evil is a show that, as the title suggests, explores what evil is and where it comes from, using a paranormal procedural frame to make this ‘exploration’ particularly thrilling and entertaining. Below, the blurb:
“Skeptical psychologist Kristen Bouchard joins David Acosta, who is training to be a Catholic priest, and a blue collar contractor as they investigate the church’s backlog of unexplained mysteries, including supposed miracles, demonic possessions and other extraordinary occurrences. Their job is to assess if there’s a logical explanation or if something truly supernatural is at work, examining the origins of evil along the dividing line between science and religion.”
The twist here is that Robert King is a devout Catholic while his wife Michelle is Jewish, which gives each of them a totally different concept of where evil comes from.
According to Christianity, evil comes from the devil Lucifer, an angel who rebelled against God and was then sent to Hell with all his other angels allied (it’s not clear if he’ll already existed before Lucifer or was created for him). The myth of Lucifer is actually based on a wrong translation of Isaiah 14:12-17 that refers to the moral fall of the king of Babylon, in this passage compared to the “morning star” called Lucifer in Latin (the planet Venus). In Isaiah’s time the city-state of Babylon was emerging as the major power in that region of the world. Its king was a war monger, expanding his empire through brute force. He enslaved, plundered and devastated the nations around him. Even in the commented Catholic bible the above truth is admitted, although very quietly of course, since the Catholic Church based much of its power on the concept of the devil being “a person”, “the enemy” of God.
In Jewish theology, on the other hand, everything comes from God, including evil, which was created by God we don’t really know why: test us? Prove us that good is better? As a writer, my wild guess is that you need conflict, a “villain” to get a story. Without evil there’s only immutable eternity.
The above duality is translated in the show with continuous wondering and investigating evil is caused by the Devil (as an actual, existing being) or can be somehow explained by science. In the world it presents, it’s pretty clear that demons are real, but they aren’t often the direct, provable cause of most of the cases that Dr. Kristen Bouchard and David Acosta face,; still, the show always keeps the waters murky enough to wonder what role evil itself might have played along the way. The more the show progresses, the more it is hinted that the devil exists and it’s the cause of bad stuff though, and we witness a number of exorcisms that work, yes, but we are not sure if because of religion or because of another scientifically explanation that it is also given and could also have worked. This leads to see Kristen and David, along with their expert Ben (Aasif Mandvi) and a variety of religious figures, arguing about free will and its reverberation, the fine line between good and evil that is in all of us and why, which isn’t something you necessarily expect from a CBS procedural.
This show is superbly written, full of twists and turns that are completely unexpected. The cast is amazing and has a great chemistry and the direction is movie-worth, not tv.
I highly recommend this show, it is, in my opinion, not only one of the most original shows of the last twenty years, but one of the best procedural ever produced.