Good Omens, Bad Dogma

June 25, 2019

Have you watched Good Omens on Amazon? And what did you think about the Christian boycott of that show?
Rob from Morgan City, LA

At first I thought the atheist community should get behind this noble effort.

Let me back up. A group called Foundation for a Christian Civilization, Inc.  (sounds like either a front for someone living a very comfortable life under a religious tax exemption, or a bunch of cranks in the wilds of Pennsylvania who dream of an all-Christian – and maybe all-white –world) petitioned Netflix to stop airing and producing a show called Good Omens.

Good Omens is a 2019 production (6 episodes) about a rather likable demon (David Tennant ) and a somewhat rebellious angel (Michael Sheen) who are trying to prevent Armageddon. Each finds disfavor in his own camp – hell and heaven, respectively—but soldiers on to block their teams from ending the world, they think, unnecessarily.

The effort to quash this series was great for TV, great for atheism, and great for America for the following reasons:

  • Uhh… Nexflix did not produce or air Good Omens. Amazon Prime did. So their original petition with 20,000 names on it was, at least initially, an embarrassing waste of time.
  • Christians still haven’t learned from past boycotts. The best way to heap TONS of publicity on a creative endeavor is to protest it and boycott it! Martin Scorcese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, Robert Maplethorpe’s photography, and countless authors have benefitted from church prohibitions of their work. People instinctively flock to see what all the hubbub is about – which is a great boost in this age of media oversaturation.
  • If overzealous Christians are spending their time on TV shows, maybe they’ll have less time to try to tell a woman what to do with her body, fight environmental progress, or any number of harms they do to civilized society.

Just for kicks I went on the Foundation for a Christian Civilization website to sign the petition – but with a good review of Good Omens. In true fundamentalist-thought-and-speech-restricting form, the Petition Text section would NOT let me put my own words in. One may not alter what they had already written. God forbid you could express your own opinion.

So my review is below.

I barely could bring myself to watch the first episode of Good Omens. The last thing I need after a hard day of fighting religious orthodoxy and a plethora of wacky beliefs is to have my down-time filled with religious orthodoxy and wacky beliefs. I’m only marginally familiar with Neil Gaiman who, with the late Terry Pratchett, wrote the book the series is based on, so there wasn’t a huge draw to watch.

After yelling a couple of times at the scenes from Genesis in the first episode, I began to shed my “this shit never happened” attitude and started to like the two main characters. Both rebel not only against their inept immediate supervisors, but also against the very premise of their existence: i.e. to go about their business until the trumpet is sounded for the apocalypse, then assume their position in the fight to the death between good and evil.

The high ranks of both heaven and hell are populated with unthinking middle managers who dutifully line things up for the end of the world with nary a thought of why or if it’s a good idea. We root (yes, I did too) for the angel and demon to undo this mess despite their millennia-old marching orders.

Along the way, we meet a host of other nutty players (e.g. witches, witch-hunters, nuns who work for Satan) who figure into the story and who are often lots of fun to watch. I was invested until the end and watched ever minute. I won’t tell you what happens, but they did finish the production, so…

Why all these Christians got their undies in a bunch is beyond me. They’re saying it’s blasphemous, but how can an adult human being take angels and demons and Armageddon seriously? Demons and angels always just seemed like convenient ways to explain bad behavior (the devil made me do it) or unusual occurrences (It’s a miracle!).

Anyway, if God were truly all-powerful, demons need not exist, and we could all just figure out how to be good to each other and get through another Armageddon-less day.

The cranks shouldn’t decide what’s on Amazon, Netflix, Hulu or anywhere else. Don’t like the content? Don’t watch.

Write Amazon if you agree.