Rating: 4 stars
“Miracle Workers,” a new limited comedy series on TBS, is based on Simon Rich’s book “What in God’s Name.” The narrative proposes that heaven is a large series of offices at Heaven Inc. that are responsible for a specific function on Earth, like the department of dirt. The series’ two main characters, Craig (Daniel Radcliffe) and Eliza (Geraldine Viswanathan), work in the department of answering prayers. When God announces his plans for the future of the Earth, the two make a bet with him in an attempt to save the planet.
God (Steve Buscemi) is depicted as a man with long, gray hair and flowing clothes aligning with Christian depictions of God. Buscemi plays a procrastinator that is unmotivated to fix the current state of the Earth, making his appearance the only resemblance between Buscemi’s character and what some would consider a “traditional” holy figure.
The show features social commentary on the current state of the Earth. The first episode depicts God watching the news, which highlights climate change, natural disasters and death as major concerns. Instead of working to fix these problems, God and most of his workers seem content to let these issues play out.
Radcliffe plays an unsure, anxious character that seems to follow Eliza’s dangerously blind optimism. Craig and Eliza take an optimistic approach to the future of Earth, while God takes a more pessimistic view. Buscemi plays the fallible God well. His scenes are filled with humorous anecdotes that add a lighthearted tone to the predicament that he has found himself in.
The comedy in the rest of the show tends to fall flat. The premise of the show is very intriguing, but its narrative focuses more on the plot and less on the relatable themes throughout. For example, workers in heaven are shown to have soul-sucking jobs with mundane tasks and a boss that has no direction. This could be a scenario faced by many viewers, but the writers often miss the mark on making the content relatable to its viewers.
By virtue of the show’s setting, it touches on philosophical topics that include human existence and the fate of mankind, but the show could do more to explore these topics while keeping its comedic roots. This show will draw comparisons to NBC’s “The Good Place” which includes more of a discussion on humanity through the lens of the afterlife. “Miracle Workers” had a more limited explanation of these themes.
Overall the show has an interesting premise that has the potential, but it was limited by the length of the series and its writing. For the most part, the show does a good job of creating a plot and keeping philosophical topics light throughout. It does not answer all of the questions that a show of this nature should and it is not as relatable to its audience as it could be.