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TV Series Review

He’s a believer. She’s a skeptic. Together, they work to solve mysteries, bring evildoers to justice and, in the process, battle a shadowy, powerful organization that’s up to no good.

What, another X-Files reboot?

Not exactly. Aliens aren’t in the offing in CBS’ Evil. And our main characters work for the Catholic Church.

In Full Possession

David Acosta is a priest in training, hired by the Vatican to cull its backlog of potentially supernatural cases. Does John Doe really need an exorcist, or just a good psychotherapist? Is this startling event really a miracle, or just a clever fraud? The Catholic Church gets, well, legions of requests for investigation and intervention, but it can’t send out fully trained exorcists to check out all of them. So Acosta goes out in their stead to discern which cases really deserve the Church’s attention—and which should be turned over to, say, the local police.

Dr. Kristen Bouchard doesn’t buy into miracles or demonic possession. She’s a psychologist, you see, and a lapsed Catholic to boot. The only demons she’s sure about are those we manufacture ourselves. And while Bouchard might seem like an odd choice to work for the Catholic Church, Acosta relies on her expertise. “The problem with my job is that possession looks a lot like insanity,” he tells her. “And insanity looks a lot like possession.”

Bouchard may not believe, in the strictest sense, but she finds the work interesting. Plus, it pays the bills. She’s got four little girls to take care of and a mountain of student loans to repay. She’ll take on the occasional possession case if it means she can also keep possession of her house.

The team is rounded out by an uber-scientific investigator named Ben. While Acosta and Bouchard explore a subject’s mind, Ben taps around the environment. Are those weird, whispering noises a sign of a haunting—or just faulty pipes? Ben’s the guy to ask (though, admittedly, he always thinks the answer is “the pipes”).

But while the trio may not agree on the source of these strange manifestations they investigate, they do agree what they’re fighting: evil. Pure evil, embodied (at least at first) by the oily Leland Townsend. He, along with dozens of horrible helpmates, stirs up trouble on social media and plays into the worst instincts of the society’s most vulnerable and estranged. Is he merely psychotic? Or does he answer to a more infernal boss?

If CBS has its way, it may take Acosta and Bouchard several seasons to find out.

Touched by … a Devil?

While most networks run screaming from the subject of religion as if it was that little girl from The Exorcist, CBS—the same network that hit paydirt with Touched by an Angel—has shown a willingness to grapple with faith in recent years, and fairly thoughtfully at that. The comedy Living Biblically tried to find a faith-themed audience and, sadly, failed. But God Friended Me got a second-season renewal (which premieres Sept. 29).

But Evil, created by The Good Wife’s brain trust of Robert and Michelle King and starring Westworld’s Katja Herbers and Luke Cage’s Mike Colter, may be its most ambitious foray into faith yet.

Robert King is Catholic. Wife Michelle describes herself as a secular Jew. “Our intent has always been to have religion front and center in the show. That’s the appeal of it,” Michelle told The Federalist. “The other thing that’s important to me is that we show characters with very different points of view who are willing to discuss these things and listen to each other in a respectful way. Right now, there is a lot of violent disagreement in the world and not a lot of listening with respect.”

The show is respectful to faith, too—though not reverential. And the early interplay between the secular Bouchard and the spiritual Acosta hints that the series will, as Michelle says, swim “more in the waters of questions than answers.”

Naturally, the show has questionable bits of content.

Whenever you’re dealing with demonic possession and exorcisms, things can take a turn to the scary … and sometimes the bloody. While not every episode features red stuff dripping and spurting about, it’s completely dependent on what supernatural mystery the team’s exploring in each given week. Sex, too, can be an uncomfortable plot point, and the show’s pilot set the table for a possible romance between Bouchard (whose husband is off in the Himalayas and has been for some time) and Acosta down the road. But this is still a traditional network television show. As such, it's not as interested in pushing boundaries in these areas as it is in telling a riveting story.

Generally, evil is something you’d try to stay away from. And many folks—particularly those with young families—will likely want to give CBS’ Evil a wide berth, too. But for those pondering the interplay between science and faith, Evil could potentially be the catalyst for deeper spiritual conversation. With the caveat, of course, that there's still plenty of content to wade through here, even for a network show.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Sept. 26, 2019: "Pilot"



Readability Age Range



Katja Herbers as Dr. Kristen Bouchard; Mike Colter as David Acosta; Michael Emerson as Leland Townsend; Aasif Mandvi as Ben Shroff






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

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