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TV Series Review

The world is about to end.

Oh, forget the whole Armageddon, written-in-the-book-of-Revelation thing. The end's not coming courtesy of fire or hailstones or meteors or even zombie apocalypse. God just plans to blow the whole thing up and replace it with a nice, quality restaurant in the middle of a lazy river. Where will God find such a river (much less chefs) in, y'know, the Earth-less vacuum of space? Details, details. He's got top men working on it. Top. Men.

Only one thing could upend God's whole Earth-destruction scheme: a couple of do-gooding angels from heaven's woefully understaffed Department of Answered Prayers.

Eliza's the naive rookie of the duo, a recent transfer from the Department of Dirt who honestly wants to make the world a better place. Craig's the grizzled vet. He's made the world a slightly, marginally better place for people for a good 10,000 years now, mostly by helping them find lost car keys and the like. Harder prayers are way beyond his pay grade. If anyone asks for world peace or for people to be nicer on Twitter, he stamps "Impossible" on those earnest intercessions and sends them up to God himself—who promptly ignores them.

But in an effort to save the world, Eliza made a bet with God and, as such, has become something of a cosmic matchmaker. See, in said stack of "Impossible" prayers, Eliza found one from Sam. He prayed to get closer to a woman named Laura. She also found a plea from Laura, who prayed to get closer to Sam. "Please make this happen," they both asked.

Easy, right? If Eliza and Craig can just answer these two prayers—prayers that both people want answered in the exact same way—the Earth will be spared, enabling it to whirl about the sun for another several eons.

But God feels like he has the upper hand—as God would. "You just picked the hardest prayer in the box," he tells Eliza. And if the angel loses, not only does the Earth go kablooey, but Eliza has to eat a worm.

Yep, God can't wait to see the look on Eliza's face when she's forced to chew that slimy creation of his. Oh, and her expression as she watches the earth blow up, too.

Say a Little Prayer for TBS

It's been said that we live in a post-Christian world. And in a way, maybe TBS' Miracle Workers offers clear evidence of that. God and heaven and answered prayers aren't real, the show's creators seem to posit. But those spiritual concepts still serve as powerful conduits to talk about what (the show's creators apparently believe) is real and worthwhile: love and relationships and trying to make the world a better place. Miracle Workers isn't trying to be sacrilegious as much as it wants to tell an optimistic, even heartwarming story of personal fulfillment and redemption, using tropes that its audience is familiar with but ideas TBS doesn't necessarily believe people care about anymore.

Given that about three-quarters of the U.S. population still claims some kind of belief in God, it seems that TBS' presumably more secular content creators may be missing the boat here. But if we were to be particularly generous, could we suggest that the show can be … spiritually interesting? And not always in a bad way?

As I watched the "bet" between Eliza and God (played by the always acerbic Steve Buscemi), I remembered Abraham's "bet" with his mysterious visitor over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19), as well as Moses' pleas to God to not wholly destroy the people they both took such pains to save (Exodus 32). Even Jesus, in His parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8) compares God to an exasperated judge who eventually caves into a pesky woman who refuses to leave him alone until she gets justice from him.

But Jesus' parable, of course, was designed to draw people closer to God, to emphasize our dependence on Him. It's about our relationship with Him. Despite Miracle Workers' religious trappings, the only relationships that this show is really concerned with are those we have with each other. Faith—real faith—is hardly on its mind at all.

Take My Hand, We'll Make It to the End of the Review, I Swear

TBS may not intend to commit sacrilege, but of course it does. Turning God into a spoiled, out-of-touch CEO has a way of doing that. Scripture tells us that "God is love" (1 John 4:16), but the "God" we meet here loves only drinking beer and shooting empty bottles into a trashcan. In Matthew 17, we read that "nothing will be impossible with God" (v. 20). But the deity TBS gives us here can't even hit that trashcan with his empty beer bottles.

And if you do insist on believing and even thinking about the real God while watching TBS' Miracle Workers, we can't help but find an explicit rebuke of the biblical Creator in there: He just doesn't seem to care, the show says. Maybe He once did, but He sure doesn't now.

Given the series' obviously less-than-sanctified leanings, it seems strangely pedantic to point out that God blithely swears, or that he suggests to Eliza that the only way he'll be convinced that Sam and Laura really are a thing is if they have sex. (He and Eliza settle on having them share a kiss instead.) TBS' onscreen deity is an entertainment Baal, unable to light even the best-prepped altar.

It's ironically frustrating, therefore, that the show otherwise minds its manners. It's not explicitly violent for the most part. It may make some verbal allusions to sex, but its heart is more romantic than you'd expect. Even the bet—to be sealed with a kiss—feels more like a Disney movie than a tawdry cable sitcom. Miracle Workers is a little like walking into a dive bar in the worst part of town and finding that the hardest beverages on tap are chocolate milk and sarsaparilla.

But no matter, really: The show's content concerns are mere sideshows to its problematic worldview—elements that might invite a handful of viewers to ponder deeper spiritual questions while alarming and disgusting a great many others.

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

Feb. 12, 2019: "Two Weeks"



Readability Age Range



Daniel Radcliffe as Craig; Geraldine Viswanathan as Eliza Hunter; Karan Soni as Sanjay; Jon Bass as Sam; Sasha Compère as Laura; Lolly Adefope as Rosie; Steve Buscemi as God






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

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