GOOD OMENS: Movie Review
By Justice Sahaydak
When an Amazon series about an angel and a demon who team up to prevent the Biblical apocalypse was released, many people expressed concern—that many expressed concern by petitioning Netflix to cancel the series is unintentionally in-character for the wacky nature of the show.
Good Omens is a six episode miniseries that premiered on Am- azon Prime in the spring of 2019. It is based upon a 1990 book of the same name by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (Gaiman was also involved in the production of the show).
Good Omens centers around the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale, who enjoy living the high life on earth: tempting souls, saving them, and eating good food. When the End Times begin, they realize they aren’t too fond of that going away.
Beyond them, the show revolves around the 11-year-old Antichrist Adam Young and his friends, the witch Anathema Device who follows a book of prophecies from her ancestor, the wannabe computer engineer turned witch hunter Newton Pulsifer, and many others who are trying to stop the end of the world. Meanwhile, the archangel Gabriel leads heaven and the demon Belzebub leads hell to carry out God’s “ineffable plan”: the apocalypse and the eventual triumph of good over evil (or evil over good, depending on who you ask).
Although theologically flawed, Good Omens is a highly entertaining, incredibly well-written show in its own right. The committed, over-the-top performances of David Tennant as Crowly, Michael Sheen as Aziraphale, Jon Hamm as Gabriel, and so many others make the show a delight to watch, and the hilarity of the numerous subplots and details make it easy to return to again and again.
Although sheer entertainment value isn’t enough for many Christians to watch a series that portrays Jesus as nothing more than a good man and shows angels and demons as stuffy bureaucrats who just want to reach an end goal, I’d caution people from writing the show off completely. It presents several strong themes that can prompt valuable discussion.
In Adam’s decision on whether he should embrace his role as the Antichrist, complete with reality-altering power, or if he should abandon his birthright, an audience can discuss the role of free will in our lives. When Crowley and Aziraphale argue over if the world is worth saving, they can wonder at the nature of humanity and its inherent worth—or its brokenness. In the numerous, ragtag groups of people who come together to stop the apocalypse, viewers can talk about the importance of love and community.
Although the conclusions the show comes to may not fully line up with the teachings of the Bible, it explores questions that Christains could do well to consider. It can be easy to assume that you know exactly what you believe, but if you don’t take the time to analyze that belief, you may not have a full understanding of it. A show like this provides an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast Christianity’s belief system with a secular one, deepening your understanding of your faith.
There is also value in seeing how other people perceive the world. Rather than assuming you know where other people are coming from, you can get an idea of what many people actually believe. For example, the series emphasizes the ability to choose as more important than the choice one actually makes. Near the end, Adam is described as neither good, nor evil, but human (and therefore has choice), and that is the highest praise the show gives its characters. This shows how much of culture idolizes ‘freedom’ over ‘goodness.’
Another reason a Christian should watch Good Omens is because this is a fairly popular show tackling theological themes, which could open up valuable conversations with non-believers. By discussing the concept of God’s “ineffable plan” for humanity in the series, you could bring up the Biblical plan for humanity. Or when talking about the importance of Adam’s choice to be the Antichrist or not, you could mention the choice everyone faces on whether to embrace Christ. Just because the show doesn’t provide the right answers to the problems it raises, doesn’t mean you can’t point people to those answers.
Good Omens is a show well worth watching, from its excellent writing and engaging acting to its ability to provoke discussions. You would do well to approach it critically, but don’t shy away from approaching it altogether.