If you’ve heard of the surprisingly popular new Jesus TV series called “ The Chosen ,” there’s a good chance you’re a Christian. The show is also an app and can be viewed on other media platforms… for free. The  largest crowd-funded film/TV project in history has just wrapped up Season two. If you haven’t seen it, you probably aren’t Christian – but perhaps this review will convince you to give it a look – even if you’re as secular as Karl Marx.

Imagine you’re transported into first-century Judaea and you find yourself following a man people say is the long-promised Messiah. You’re hanging out with this man, Jesus of Nazareth, who only speaks the profound phrases attributed to him in the New Testament. –It would get weird quickly. People – and Jesus was a person during his time on Earth – don’t only speak in wise soundbites. To be fair, the gospels don't claim to have a list of every word Jesus uttered and it’s more than fair to assume that Christ said more things than the roughly 31,000 words recorded across all the gospels. Human men today speak about 15,700 words a day, while women use a few more – about 16,200. The things Jesus said in the New Testament might be said to be more of a “greatest hits” compilation than a word-for-word dictation. How might, say, Jesus have interacted with the wife of one of his disciples, a person he heals, or someone he meets while on the road? Such stories get brief mentions in the Bible, but they are the sort of things vividly brought to life by the excellent  Christian app and television show The Chosen .

The growing numbers of – especially younger Americans – who say they are “spiritual,” but not “religious” is puzzling to some. What does that mean? Have younger Americans ditched the “faith of their fathers” for a hodgepodge of New Age spirituality? Are they skipping church to attend chakra-opening yoga-drum circles? –No. Or at least not as many as you might think. In fact, a lot of the “spiritual but not religious” crowd still use the basic tenants of Christianity as their guide to spirituality. The Golden Rule and “judge not” are still considered solid truths. A huge portion of Americans are, however, moving away from rigid fundamentalism. They have a more liberal take on cultural issues such as homosexuality and believe in the theory of evolution (note: in 2016, America finally passed the 50 percent mark for those who accept Darwin’s ideas on how we evolved).

A Massively Popular New App/TV Show Wins Viewers with a Human Look at “The Chosen” One A Massively Popular New App/TV Show Wins Viewers with a Human Look at “The Chosen” One Pixabay

The Chosen  is a series that’s perfect for such times. While it doesn’t back away from showing Jesus as divine, he’s not a passive, hippie-like figure, but nor is he an inaccessible, almost alien being – such as the Jesus portrayed by UK actor Robert Powell in the  classic 1977 series, Jesus of Nazareth. And the Jesus in The Chosen  isn’t white and doesn’t have blue eyes. In appearance and temperament, The Chosen’s Jesus, played by Jonathan Roumie, is someone you feel you’d be comfortable talking to about anything. This Jesus is still ‘The Savior,’ but he’s also a human being. He jokes, dances at weddings, thinks about the feelings of both his male and female followers, plays with kids, and speaks like a ‘normal person’ would. It’s all rather incredible. –It’s almost as if he’s “spiritual without being religious.”

The show uses the hashtag: #GetUsedToDifferent. The line is something said by Roumie’s Jesus. It’s a fitting tagline for the whole show. Jesus never said those exact words – at least not in the gospels – but director Dallas Jenkins isn’t trying to “film the gospels.” Jenkins is from a distinguished evangelical family – his father is the co-author of the  Left Behind books – and Roumie is a Catholic who says he finds Pope Francis’ humility inspiring. The Chosen ’s team of producers and actors are definitely Christian, but adhering to the fundamentalism to a certain creed of their faith – or even to the story as told in the New Testament – isn’t the mission.

What The Chosen  is trying to do is tell the story of the life of Christ through the medium of film, and all good films or TV shows are good stories. In the Season two finale, we see a somewhat nervous Jesus rehearsing the “ Sermon on the Mount” before going out in front of the crowds. Then, as he’s practicing, four of his female followers recommend a wardrobe change, telling the Son of God that his beige outfit will “blend into the rocks” and he “needs a bit of color” – Jesus then takes the time to listen to the women explain which color he should wear –and then he heeds their advice! Jesus just got a mini makeover. This is something one can’t imagine occurring in any other Jesus drama. Heresy to some, no doubt – but wonderfully “real.” Earlier in the same episode, Jesus goes over a ‘rough draft’ of the famous sermon with his disciple Matthew, who offers a critique, telling Jesus there “isn’t enough good news in it.” Jesus replies, “I’m not here to be sentimental and soothing. I’m here to start a revolution… a revolution, not revolt.”

If you’re already a follower, The Chosen  is a shot in the arm for your faith in Christian media – after so many letdowns and near-misses. Beautiful sets, good acting by a racially diverse cast (a rarity in previous ‘life of Christ’ shows),  awesome camera work, and a delightfully original take make The Chosen  worth checking out, even for those who aren’t religious. For non-believers, the show probably won’t convert you… but it’s a “real” TV show that tells, as Jenkins told the Atlantic magazine, “compelling” stories. Put it this way: have you thought of Jesus and his disciples as “interesting” people? You will after watching The Chosen .