Blood, Guts, and God
By Christian Decker
My dad and I have found that we have a penchant for both the absurd and obscenity that can sometimes enter into modern television. Over the past few years my brother, my father, and myself have descended into the chaos that is the horror genre and found new and exciting ways to completely destroy ourselves mentally. That being said, none of that compares to the absolute bat-shit craziness that is AMC’s Preacher. Just a heads up, SPOILERS.
I don’t think I’ve ever watched a show that is so messed up and patently offensive in my entire life. The sheer audacity to tackle some of the problems and subjects that we often face in this world in the way that it does is honestly astounding, and for me quite refreshing. The show is based on a comic book of the same name. It follows the story of Jesse Custer, a retired bank robber, who is trying to redeem himself from his life of crime by returning to the church were his father was the town preacher. His girlfriend, “Tulip” O’Hare, tries to bring him back into the fold by offering him intel on the man who betrayed them and caused them to lose their unborn child. Already an interesting plot, right? It gets better. They are also joined by an Irish vampire. You read that correctly, a vampire named Cassidy, who crash-landed in the town after being ambushed by a group of vampire hunters in a plane flying overhead.
The show gets its main focus from an entity called Genesis, the offspring between an angel and a demon. Genesis gets free from its container in Heaven where it makes its way down to Earth and plants itself inside Jesse. Genesis gives the host the power to command anyone to do what the host wants. For example, if I told you to jump off a bridge, you would do so without hesitation. The one problem is that sometimes the commands can be taken too literally or be said accidentally, which lead to consequences like one guy cutting his own heart out of his chest in front of his mom. Now you see what I am talking about. Jesse struggles to comprehend if this gift of his is somehow God’s plan for him, a chance at redemption and to help his small community. This leads to the revelation that God is missing. He left heaven, and no one knows why.
That is the basic rundown of the first season. The subsequent season gets a little more complicated with the introduction of the Grail, which is essentially like a Christian Illuminati, and other characters that throw wrenches into the mix.
As I mentioned before, where this show succeeds is both in fantastic acting and, in some cases, just pure shock value and “I can’t believe they just did that” moments. For example, another main/side character is Eugene. Eugene’s defining trait is that he has a gaping hole where his mouth used to be. We are led to believe that the reason for this is that when he was rejected by a girl, he took a shotgun, shot her in the head and then tried to kill himself. Pretty awful stuff, but an otherwise sweet kid. Later on in the show, we find out that the girl shot herself because she could not bear the thought of Eugene, who was her friend at the time, liking her. Eugene then tried to kill himself, but never told anyone what really happened. It is honestly a heartbreaking story, and for Eugene, it never really gets better—at least, not where I’m at in the series. What is interesting to me is that Eugene always seems to have this ray of perpetual optimism around him despite his difficulties, the constant bullying from his classmates, and the fact that he accidentally gets sent to hell. Such joy in the face of overwhelming pain is an admirable quality that I did not expect to find in a show like this.
Perhaps another startling example of a shock value moment is that Jesus has a direct descendant and his conception is shown in startling detail. This is part of the function of the Grail, to use this messiah and the person to guide humanity after the Apocalypse. There is only one problem, for lack of a better term: this “messiah” is mentally impaired after years of inbreeding. All of the Grail members call him Humperdoo. It is perhaps one of the most “did they really just do that?” moments in the entire series.
Did I mention Hitler is there too? Bold choice, not withstanding the fact that he then becomes the ruler of Hell after the Saint of Killers shoots Satan in the face with his pistol. Too much to get into now but it’s a pretty badass scene.
In addition, the show is just really funny. I mean, many of the jokes are obscene, but my God Cassidy is hilarious. There are so many body parts that go flying and people exploding in the grossest fashion and it’s honestly just amazing to behold. Not to mention that the leader of one of the Grail chapters is perhaps the funniest character ever because he says everything so seriously in a deadpan voice, including phrases such as “you look like you went down on a monkey.”
Sure, it may not be the greatest show on television, but it brings a lot of new and interesting concepts to the table that I’ve never really seen or experienced before in such a nuanced way. Perhaps I also liked it so much because it was a fun thing to watch over the summer with my dad. Either way that shouldn’t stop you from experiencing this wild thrill ride of blasphemy and learning about yourself and learning about how people look for redemption. 10/10.