“God Friended Me,” an uplifting drama about an outspoken atheist whose life is turned upside down when he receives a friend request on Facebook from “God,” premieres at 8 p.m. Sunday evening on CBS.
Brandon Micheal Hall stars as podcaster Miles Finer who receives repeated pokes from “God” following the friend request, then accepts it.
Finer follows the signs to Cara Bloom (Violett Beane), an online journalist suffering from writer’s block. Brought together by the “God” account, the two find themselves investigating “God’s” friend suggestions and inadvertently helping others in need.
The cast also consists of Javicia Leslie as Finer’s sister, a doctoral psychology student and bartender; Joe Morton as Finer’s father, a beloved preacher at Harlem’s Trinity Church for 25 years stung by his son’s strong rejection of his faith; and Suraj Sharma as his best friend, a sometime hacker who helps him and Bloom research the enigmatic account.
The focus of the series “is who is behind the account, why have they chosen Miles and what, ultimately, does that person want,” co-creator Steven Lilien said at last month’s Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.
CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl called “God Freinded Me,” ” a unique conceit for a family drama and is definitely one of the best pilots we’ve seen in quite a while.”
“It focuses both on those relationships, and more universally, how all of us are woven together,” Kahl told City News Service. “I also think it delivers a warm message that we are all, in a host of ways, intertwined.”
Co-creator Bryan Wynbrandt said the inspiration for the series came “a few years ago” when he was driving to Lilien’s house and received “a push notification on my phone for a friend suggestion from an old friend.”
“A thought occurred to me in that moment, `What if someone claiming to be God sent me a friend request on Facebook?”’ said Wynbrandt, who had been a producer of CBS’ “CSI: NY” and “Hawaii Five-0” and the Fox “Batman” origin story “Gotham.”
“As a nonbeliever, it sort of struck me as an idea of `Wow, that would be an interesting conflict.’
“And I called Steven, and he said to me, `That’s a really cool idea. What if they sent friend suggestions every week that these people could help?”’
While “God Friended Me” has drawn comparisons to two series featuring angels, “Highway to Heaven” and “Touched by an Angel,” Lilien said ” a lot of our inspiration” came from the 1989-93 NBC time traveling series, “Quantum Leap,” which was about “a real person who is, in this incredible situation, asked to change people’s lives.”