Faith-based entertainment has something of a spotty history. The best of intentions don’t always translate to the screen as well as we might like, and sometimes a Christian movie or show that can move a believer to tears might leave a secular viewer … unimpressed.
Maybe that’s one reason why I was so impressed by The Chosen.
VidAngel’s show based on (so far) the early days of Jesus’ ministry feels, aesthetically, closer to a prestige-TV offering than your typical faith-based fare. The narrative is engrossing, the acting spot-on. It’s not perfect. But for my money it’s one of the best faith-based offerings I’ve seen—capable of going toe-to-toe with some of television’s best shows (while working with just a fraction of the budget).
And the story behind the story—that is, the creation and the distribution of the show itself—is pretty fascinating, too. The Chosen is the product of a crowd-funded initiative, not a network’s deep pockets. The whole first season was made available via its own stand-alone app (another innovation) using a creative “pay it forward” initiative, where a viewer who enjoyed the show can pay for the next viewer to watch.
Creator Dallas Jenkins likes to say that The Chosen is “something new,” and in this case, he’s not overselling.
The Chosen also adds some “new” elements to the biblical narrative—expanding and imaginatively dramatizing the core story we read in the Gospels to flesh out its characters more: Peter. Mary Magdalene. Matthew. Nicodemus. These people—those deeply impacted by Jesus—are the real focus of The Chosen.
For a fun, free-wheeling half-hour, I recently talked with Jenkins about the show—its creation, its distribution and even some of its more controversial elements. I enjoyed our chat. I think you will, too.