I’ve always had a bit of a strained relationship with Melissa McCarthy – in as much that while I like her, and think she can deliver strong comedic performances, she often seems to be a sign of a project’s mediocrity. Time and again I’ve found myself bouncing off her movies or shows, yet for some reason, I keep coming back, hoping that this time she’ll be in the right project. God’s Favourite Idiot, her latest effort, rolled onto Netflix earlier this month, touting a pretty interesting premise – tech support company worker Clark unwittingly becomes the messenger of God, just as his relationship with McCarthy’s Amily begins to take off. So far, so good. Unfortunately, things quickly go off the rails, bringing in a holy war between God and Satan, alongside a small cast of angels and even the four horsemen (sorry, horsepeople, as War from the show repeatedly points out) in a plot that is supposed to provide some tension to proceedings, but never really seems to go anywhere.
Before diving into the issues with God’s Favourite Idiot, it’s important to note the things that it does well. The core crew of characters is generally pretty strong – McCathy’s Amily has some genuinely funny moments, and the blossoming relationship between Ana Scotney’s Wendy and Usman Ally’s Mohsin is very cute. Seeing how each person deals with the knowledge of Clark’s newfound mission from God is amusing, as some take it in stride while others find themselves pushed to the edge. Steve Mallory’s middle-management angel, given the name Frisbee by Amily, is a highlight, his love for and strict adherence to the bureaucratic red tape that so many of us find infuriating makes him a character that everyone can recognise from their lives.
The romances can have some tender moments which do pull on the heart strings at times, and they feel especially poignant when viewed in comparison to some of the more ‘out-there’ story beats that the show features. Wendy’s ‘I think you’re nice’ to Mohsin was a particularly sweet moment, bringing back some believable romantic innocence in a television landscape that has increasingly less time for such things.
Unfortunately, the show fails to deliver on any of the promise it had in the early episodes. The holy war between heaven and hell just feels tiring, especially as the season draws to a close and we’re still yet to make any real headway in achieving Clark’s mission or even understanding more about what is actually going on. In fact, as the show progresses, it feels increasingly like the writer’s room started picking random ideas and just chucking them on the page, without any real thought to how they would connect to each other, or how they might resolve. The lack of resolution is possibly the show’s biggest downfall – with no storylines ever coming to a true close, it all feels too inconsequential. In a show featuring angels, the devil, and the four horsepeople of the apocalypse raiding a grocery store, it’s weird that it feels like almost nothing really happened. At the end of the season, I’m not sure any of the characters have moved past where they were at the end of the opening episode.
The ghost of The Good Place also does no favours for God’s Favourite Idiot. While the two shows are very different in action, their backgrounds can feel a little similar, and the unfortunate truth is that God’s Favourite Idiot is but a shadow of The Good Place’s brilliance. Whereas Michael Schur’s show continued to dive deep into its characters’ motivations and what it really means to be morally good, God’s Favourite Idiot wants to keep things surface level at every possible moment. Clark, perhaps the most important character in the show, is perhaps its weakest character, mainly because he’s just cloyingly ‘good’ with no particular depth.
Leslie Bibb’s Satan is equally irritating. While Bibb’s performance is passable, her role in the show feels like it was shoehorned in because the writers felt like they needed to have a ‘big bad’, and her continued appearances just serve to make things feel… tacky. Satan’s goading of the main characters is never particularly clever or funny, and on the whole, the character just falls painfully flat. The scene where she tries to (somewhat successfully) get Amily to leave the house just moments after she’s been warned not to leave just feels ridiculous.
I continued to watch the show right through the first season because I kept hoping it was going to get better and start delivering on its premise, but by the time the credits rolled on the final episode, I was done. There seems to be a cliffhanger set up for a potential second season, but I certainly won’t be watching it – if it actually gets made that is. While it had a solid premise, God’s Favourite Idiot unfortunately feels cheap and tacky, like a straight-to-home-video movie from the early 2000s.