Episode 3: WWJD
Episode 4: Heal Thee
By: Carlos Uribe
Save Me is a show about a girl who thinks God is talking to her and has made her a prophet. I will be covering this show weekly.
I continue to find Save Me interesting because of it's pushing for Christian elements while making fun of them at the same time. A good example is the episode WWJD. All of the neighbors have united to sign a petition in order to kick out a neighbor they don't like. She's a mean old lady who likes to use the hose on anybody who steps on her property. The neighbor and Beth have had a long-standing rivalry. It makes sense that Beth quickly signs the petition without even thinking hard about it. It's an opportunity to get rid of an enemy. Who wouldn't take it? Only Beth quickly gets a message from God through her children's bible. She's told that she has to be a Good Samaritan which means helping the neighbor fix up her house so she can keep it. She tries to rally the neighborhood to help her with her cause when it becomes too much for her but this proves to be difficult. This neighbor is not only unpopular but all of the characters get tempted when they meet their dream gay neighbors. When Beth injures herself, she thinks that she has failed or gotten the wrong message from God. She actually thinks that God might have led her astray which is confusing or alarming. Only she gets a happy ending when she wakes up and sees the whole neighborhood finishing the job she had set out to do. The only disappointing part is that the episode doesn't dwell on this. What's the lesson for Beth? Is it that God doesn't need her to accomplish his will or is her true value in getting people to do it? Beth quickly accepts that she was doing right all along but never questions why she had to be injured in the process. The show shies away from any true reflection of God's actions which is a bit disappointing because it could have been interesting to see the writers handle that. I like entertainment that is able to explore religion seriously. Save Me might be part-satire but it could also be a show that deeply explores some serious theological questions. It doesn't have to make up the mind for the audience but it should at least present options to make the viewer thing. This topic would scare away a lot of viewers but I don't think they would have been interested to see Save Me anyways. If anything, I think the fans this show will get will be precisely the ones who appreciate it.
So how is this show promoting Christian elements? It's basically all about following a principle laid out in the bible: helping out your neighbors even if you don't like them. The good Samaritan principle is a good one to have and I think a pretty universal one. Beth is able to connect with her neighbor when she stops seeing her as a rival and more as a human being who misses her husband. Her passionate speech at the restaurant is a pretty good one and the whole neighborhood is united to help the neighbor in the end. The beginning also has Beth trying to finally seek God. The marijuana in her copy of the Holy Bible makes for a good laugh but it's interesting to note how she's seeking to learn more about God. She's not just talking with him (a spiritual experience) but now she's seeking him in a religious manner. The premiere last week had accomplished this when Beth had gone to the Church for the first time but this week expands on that. In fact, this week's mission from God with her was handed to her through the children's bible. Finally, to top things off, it's Beth's acceptance that her family doesn't believe her. Her open-minded nature and belief that they'll eventually agree with her is an attitude that Christianity supports. This is not always true as there are some Churches that judge or try to force their beliefs on others but it's still a value that exists within a lot of other Churches.
Save Me also gets to make fun of Christianity a bit while re-enforcing Beth's character. She decides that she needs to learn more about God so she looks for a Bible. The copy she has contains marijuana in it. This basically speaks to the level of spirituality in the family before God started speaking to her. It was so non-existent that they were basically being sacrilegious. She does find a new bible but she finds a new obstacle: it's too hard for her to comprehend. The writers basically call out the King James Bible for being inaccessible. That Beth is reduced to using a Children's Bible is used to show how new she is to the very concept of religion. The show also makes fun of Christian elements in other ways. Beth notes how her Christian friend isn't willing to help out a neighbor, which can make fun of the hypocrisy found in Churches. She gets injured doing God's work which sends her mixed messages. The show mostly skewers Christianity with it's rejection of some of it's values. All of the characters, including Beth, have their dream gay couple. The show at the end reveals that the neighbor was refusing to move because she wanted to keep the gays from moving into the neighborhood. In some way, it is making fun of the traditional religious values from what could otherwise be a potential audience for Save Me. It can't attract a lot of non-Christians while basically having Beth embrace the religion but it can't embrace a lot of Christians if it's rejecting some of the currently relevant values. Save Me is a tough choice because it's pro-spirituality as it is anti-religious and vice versa. Which is why I'm still confused about this show.
WWJD was a pretty good and fun episode.
Beth has a lot of what makes a prophet a prophet: God talks to her. The only thing she's missing is the power to actually perform miracles. The one-hour premiere might hint at her potential powers but it's questionable if she actually has them. She definably doesn't this week when Tom accidentally runs over a squirrel. Beth gets the message that they should save the little animal rather than crush his body with a giant rock. The smart choice is that they should take the squirrel to the vet but they have to help one of their friends with a party. It's possible that they could have saved him if they had gone to the vet first because the squirrel ended up dying after the surgery failed to save him. Once again, Beth fails at being able to perform God's word. It does lead to some good results as her husband is finally able to communicate why he's so angry at his wife and it's heavily implied that her effort did lead to Tom's mistress waking up from her coma. The squirrel itself seems to be fine as he disappears from his box when they go to bury him. I kept expecting for the camera to show a dog or some other animal having stolen the dead squirrel but the show seems to be sticking with the little animal coming back to life. Which is surprising because it totally fits the show's theme to have gone the dead animal route. Anyways, it's a pretty good plot that has some pretty good character moments. It also has moments where it makes fun of religion while re-enforcing it at the same time. Ah, Save Me. A show I'll never know whether I'm supposed to approve of it or not coming from a religious, rather than critical, standpoint.
A major problem with Heal Thee is that there's a large sub-plot involving a friend's marriage problems with his wife. He messes up when he accidentally calls her by the name of his ex-wife. This is the first time I'm hearing that he has an ex-wife and I'm not sure this was the best way to introduce that detail. It just felt sudden and for the sake of the narrative rather than an actual part of his past. Anyways, this friend is throwing a surprise party for his current wife to try and get her to forgive him rather than go on their annual spa trip. Only she had been looking forward to that spa trip and hates surprise parties. He tries to justify his action by claiming she always wants to socialize with people but what she really wanted was to spend some time along. It's not a bad plot if these two characters were really developed or if I had a stake in their relationship. The show spends some time with them but it forgets to actually make us care. This is Beth's journey, why should we care about the lives of her friends? It's going to have to be a question that the show would have to address in it's future if it, you know, had one. As it is, Heal Thee points out how I largely only care about Beth and her family. I'm not all too interested in her friends. As if to prove my point, I have largely forgotten the names of her friends while I can remember the names of Beth's family off the top of my head (Beth, Tom, and Emily). I'm hoping that the next few episodes realize this and concentrate more on Beth because there really aren't that many left in this season.
The main plot is more interesting because I care about Beth trying to save her marriage with Tom. I don't care a LOT because the show still needs to prove the marriage is worth saving but I do want what Beth desires. The show needs to make me care about their marriage because wanting Beth to save it because that's what Beth wants only goes so far. This is all represented through the squirrel they run over. The squirrel (their marriage) was happy until it went downhill (Tom ran over it, Beth gave up on it). As Tom tried to save their marriage, Beth tried to save the squirrel. Just as the squirrel seems like it's dead, it comes back to life via a miracle of God. Beth was a terrible drunk until she decided to improve her life because God started to speak with her. She started working on her relationship and even forgave Tom for his affair. Only this made Tom's life more difficult because he wants her to be angry at him because he still hasn't forgive her for giving up on their marriage. He's not even allowed to be angry because of his affair. At least, that's how he feels. He is able to voice his anger at the end which will allow Beth to try and answer them. As for the mistress? She does wake up but she doesn't remember the last six months. She doesn't remember the affair so it's like it never even happened with her.
Heal Thee was also a fun episode but it does point out how little I care about Beth's friends.