Jesus was wise and loving, a teacher, philosopher, and religious leader who (to around two billion people, anyway) also happened to be the son of God. Yeah, but was he funny? Scholars argue that, yes, Jesus actually had a great sense of humor and a droll sense of irony that’s often overlooked. Still, you’ve likely never seen a Jesus as sitcom-witty as the one portrayed in The Chosen, the hit streaming series filmed right here in Texas. This Messiah and his disciples have a quippy, lightly teasing banter that suggests their true holy scriptures include old DVDs of Friends.
Take this exchange from the show’s second season: Jesus’s followers John (George H. Xanthis) and Big James (Abe Martell) call on him to smite some unruly Samaritans, so Jesus (Jonathan Roumie) cocks an eyebrow and deadpans, “You wanted to use the power of God to bring down fire to burn these people up?” John takes a beat. “Well ... it sounds a lot worse when you say it that way,” he says. All that’s missing is a choir of angels to supply the heavenly laugh track.
Although The Chosen draws directly from the New Testament, it’s become a global phenomenon largely because it doesn’t treat the Gospels as, uh, gospel. Its creator, Dallas Jenkins, a recent Texas transplant, developed the series in 2018 with the hope of turning Bible stories into something truly binge-worthy. As he recently told the Wall Street Journal, Jenkins, himself an evangelical, was inspired by secular if similarly impassioned shows such as Friday Night Lights, The West Wing, and The Wire, and wanted to make a show with a similar naturalistic bent that delved into the people and the politics of Jesus’s time. That meant less emphasis on the divine and more focus on the human—Jesus included.
Judging by the response so far, Jenkins has succeeded. Plenty of filmmakers have tried jazzing up the Bible for modern audiences, using everything from R-rated gore to cartoon vegetables in an attempt to broaden its appeal beyond the devout. (Jenkins’s father, the novelist Jerry B. Jenkins, even scored his own Christian crossover sensation with the Left Behind franchise.) But few have achieved the kind of widespread attention or intense devotion afforded to The Chosen, which last year surpassed Mystery Science Theater 3000 to become the most successful crowdfunded project ever. When the show’s first season, which debuted in 2019,became available to watch for freein early 2020, it was backed by 16,000 donors who’d chipped in just north of $10 million. To date, The Chosen has raised more than $40 million, enough to cover production costs through at least the third of its seven planned seasons.
Thanks to a “pay it forward” model, The Chosen remains free to stream via VidAngel or on the show’s dedicated mobile app. Its current batch of sixteen episodes has been translated into fifty languages, from Albanian to Zulu. It even hit the big screen in December: a new special, Christmas With the Chosen: The Messengers, was shown in some 1,700 movie theaters nationwide. After it shattered presales records for its distributor, Fathom Events, it went on to earn $4.2 million on opening day, bringing in $13.7 million by mid-month. That’s a considerable return for the franchise, which typically spends $1 to $2 million on each episode.
Some of those tithes have also gone toward giving The Chosen a more permanent home. The show filmed much of its debut season about forty miles west of Forth Worth, in Poolville’s Capernaum Studios, a re-creation of a first-century village that has long been popular with church tour groups and as a setting for live biblical productions.
By the end of season two, The Chosen relocated from Utah, where most of the season had been shot, to Midlothian, about half an hour southwest of downtown Dallas, and the 1,200-acre, Salvation Army–owned Camp Hoblitzelle, where crews are currently building sprawling production facilities. This new outpost will host the filming of the next five seasons of The Chosen, as well as other faith-based projects Jenkins hopes to shepherd. The camp also promises to become a tourist attraction, with an immersive biblical experience that features attractions such as a “ritual bath” and a working olive press.
But what about the agnostics? Converting the doubters is a lot to ask of any Christian entertainment. Even some evangelicals may find that a lot of the films and TV series about Jesus are a tad preachy, their portrayals too saintly or stiff for an emotional connection to take hold.
But in this respect, at least, The Chosen has the most potential to cross over to a wide audience since Touched by an Angel, or maybe Amy Grant. The show is more of a character-based drama than anything. It presents Jesus and his disciples as real, vaguely neurotic people, busting free of the stained-glass images that have long enshrined them. They bicker and fall in love. They struggle with insecurities and jealousies. A lot of them are just plain rude to one another. In many ways, The Chosen feels like a pious Entourage, following a bunch of hothead doofuses as they jockey for power around their famous friend.
This approach isn’t without controversy. As Jenkins acknowledged in one of his regular video commentaries, some viewers were offended that the show seemed to treat Jesus like a “rock star” in its season two finale, which saw Jesus about to deliver his Sermon on the Mount from a makeshift stage in front of thousands of fans (most of them played by Chosen backers who paid for the privilege). Jenkins has shrugged off those criticisms. “That’s a really, really silly perspective,” he said, insisting that the scene was both a “practical” way to convey Jesus’s growing popularity and, to be blunt, just good television. Maybe that’s blasphemy to some; Jesus Christ Superstar received its fair share of condemnation too. But it speaks to Jenkins’s abiding belief that entertaining audiences isn’t a sin.
That approach is also much more likely to resonate with younger audiences. The Chosen’s liberal sprinkling of anachronisms—ancient Romans and Pharisees alike casually drop phrases like “freaked out,” “that’s not a good look,” and “don’t be salty”—might irritate some purists. Still, those moments go a long way toward loosening things up on the show. In one episode, Jesus even dances! At a party! Whether or not you believe he was actually our Lord and Savior, The Chosen does a pretty good job of suggesting why so many people wanted to follow this guy around.
Granted, even with its prestige TV–like allure, it’s the power of faith that compels most of its viewers, and there’s no avoiding The Chosen’s commitment to ministry. Every episode inevitably boils down to some teachable moment—if not an out-and-out sermon—about the importance of forgiveness or humility, of “doing unto others” and so on, in a way that secular audiences are likely to find sanctimonious or dull, no matter how many one-liners precede it. That the story stretches out over seven seasons also means The Chosen feels slow and repetitive at times, wandering the desert at its own unhurried pace. Given that the second season climaxed with Jesus about to deliver his Sermon on the Mount, there’s still quite a long road to Jerusalem ahead. But for those who might wonder why “the greatest story ever told” couldn’t also have a little more humor or humanity, then The Chosen is something of a miracle.
This story appeared in the February 2022 issue ofTexas Monthlywith the headline “The Greatest Story Ever Streamed.” It originally published online on December 8, 2021.Subscribe today.
Why shouldn t you watch The Chosen? ›
Parents need to know that The Chosen is a faith-based series about the lives of people who interacted with Jesus Christ during his lifetime. There are some strong visual references to rape, as well as to violence and bloody injuries. Sexual behavior is alluded to, but will go over the heads of younger viewers.What religion is behind The Chosen? ›
“As I've said, many, many times, the content of the show has zero influence or input from any formal faith tradition or church. None.” However, Latter-day Saints are involved with the show. “The Chosen” is distributed by Angel Studios, which was co-founded by Latter-day Saint brothers Neal and Jeffrey Harmon.Is The Chosen app biblically accurate? ›
It's fiction, in other words¬—fiction that was inspired by and embraces Scripture, but fiction that nonetheless feels free to remove and (mostly) add elements as the story—not theology—demands.What does the Catholic Church say about The Chosen? ›
Created outside of the Hollywood system, The Chosen allows us to see Him through the eyes of those who knew him. The Chosen stays faithful to the Gospels and at the same time tells us a story that is in between the lines of scripture.Is The Chosen connected to the Mormon Church? ›
“The Chosen” is not endorsed by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but many members of the Church are embracing its messages.Is VidAngel a Mormon? ›
Then of course, VidAngel's owned by 8,000 Americans of all different faiths. But the two founders, we are faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.What church supports The Chosen? ›
Many Latter-day Saints have become fans of the show because it's true to New Testament accounts and reflects their love for the Bible and Christ.Is The Chosen cast Christians? ›
What are the religions of The Chosen cast? Individuals working on the show come from various faith backgrounds, Eves said. There are Catholics, Presbyterians, Evangelicals, Baptists, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and even non-believers involved in the show.Do the Mormons believe Jesus is God? ›
Like most Christians, Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Creator of the World.Where is Lilith in the Bible? ›
The Bible mentions the Lilith only once, as a dweller in waste places (Isaiah 34:14), but the characterization of the Lilith or the lili (in the singular or plural) as a seducer or slayer of children has a long pre-history in ancient Babylonian religion.
Does The Chosen show the crucifixion? ›
Jenkins said season six will spend its entirety on the crucifixion and the fact that Jesus died for us, with seasons three through five helping build the gospel story to that point.Is The Chosen made by BYU? ›
"We want 'The Chosen' to get into as many homes as possible, and BYUtv does that as well as anyone," said Dallas Jenkins, creator of "The Chosen." "When I first made a short Nativity film at my friend's farm in Illinois, I had no idea it would lead to 'The Chosen' and its global response.Why is Jews called The Chosen? ›
In Judaism, the concept of the Jews as the chosen people (Hebrew: הָעָם הַנִבְחַר ha-ʿam ha-nivḥar , IPA: haʕam hanivħar) is the belief that the Jews, via descent from the ancient Israelites, are the chosen people, i.e. selected to be in a covenant with God.What is the point of The Chosen? ›
The whole purpose of The Chosen, the 1st multi-season show about Christ's life, is to take you deeper into the gospel stories. This devotional goes even further and will both prepare you for the show and enrich your walk now. Now, I have to have this devotional.What the Bible Says About chosen? ›
Called and Chosen Bible Verse:
Ephesians 1:4-5 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
“We had pretty much decided on Malta, Bulgaria, or Utah, and we found out Utah was a no, and that was because of COVID,” Eves said. At that point, Dallas Jenkins, the writer and director, went back to the farm where he'd filmed the short that inspired The Chosen and prayed they'd be able to keep going.What does Mormons think of Jesus? ›
We believe Jesus is the Son of God, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh (John 3:16). We accept the prophetic declarations in the Old Testament that refer directly and powerfully to the coming of the Messiah, the Savior of all humankind. We believe that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the fulfillment of those prophecies.Do Mormons claim to be Christians? ›
Mormons consider themselves Christians, but many Christians don't recognize Mormonism as an official denomination. Mormons believe in the crucifixion, resurrection and divinity of Jesus Christ. Followers claim that God sent more prophets after Jesus's death.
Bonneville International Corporation is a media and broadcasting company, wholly owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) through its for-profit arm, Deseret Management Corporation. It began as a radio and TV network in the Triad Center Broadcast House in Salt Lake City, Utah.Is it OK for Christians to watch TV? ›
The Bible does that, too. Television shows can echo the gospel in that they are a reflection of our life and our growing with God. They can also explore and mirror a world in deep need of Christ's transforming love.
Why can't Mormons watch R rated movies? ›
It goes back to talks by LDS leaders, starting in 1972, urging young members to steer clear of what they consider to be immoral content. But film lovers, including filmmakers and scholars, say the blanket bar on R-rated movies has taken some weird turns over the years — and that young viewers now may be ignoring it.Who backed The Chosen? ›
Angel Studios, the streaming platform behind the Christian series “The Chosen”, announced this week it had raised $47 million in funding from venture capitalists. The financing was led by VC firm Gigafund and Bain-backed Uncorrelated Venture. Original seed investors Alta Ventures and Kickstart Fund also participated.What denomination is the director of The Chosen? ›
The director, himself an Evangelical Christian, has thus regularly spoken about Mormons and their faith, and some of his comments have raised the ire of critics.Who supports The Chosen? ›
Angel Studios raised millions through crowdfunding to fund the multiseason series about the life of Jesus Christ. Latter-day Saint leaders also authorized the filming of scenes for Season 2 of “The Chosen” at the church's Jerusalem set near Goshen, Utah.Who do Mormons pray to? ›
Mormon prayer is a sincere, heartfelt talk with God the Father. Mormons pray only to God; they do not pray to any other being or to anything made by man or God.Do Mormons believe in Mary? ›
The Latter Day Saint movement teaches that Mary was the mother of Jesus. Latter Day Saints affirm the virgin birth of Jesus but reject the Catholic doctrines of the Immaculate Conception, the perpetual virginity of Mary, and her assumption.What religion was Jesus? ›
Of course, Jesus was a Jew. He was born of a Jewish mother, in Galilee, a Jewish part of the world. All of his friends, associates, colleagues, disciples, all of them were Jews. He regularly worshipped in Jewish communal worship, what we call synagogues.What religion is Lilith from? ›
Although the figure of Lilith is commonly found in Jewish folklore and midrash, the origin of Lilith is as a Sumerian succubus. The first Jewish story of Lilith was told in the Alphabet of ben sirah. Before the introduction of the Alphabet of ben sirah, Lilith was mostly seen as a demoness instead of the "first Eve".Who is Lilith and why is she not in the Bible? ›
According to Jewish lore, Lilith was the first wife of Adam. Although not mentioned directly in the Bible, Lilith has been used to explain the two contradictory versions of Creation within the book of Genesis. Like Adam, Lilith was created from the dust and the earth, making them equal to one another.Who is Satan's daughter? ›
Satan and his Daughter, the Angel Liberty, drawn from this larger poem, tells the story of Satan and his daughter, the angel created by God from a feather left behind following his banishment.
Is the Judas in The Chosen Iscariot? ›
The Chosen (TV Series 2017– ) - Luke Dimyan as Judas Iscariot - IMDb.What does Jesus pray in The Chosen? ›
Before eating, we see Jesus recite this prayer: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. I covered this prayer in detail in my post about The Chosen: Season 1, Episode 2 when I explained the aspects of the traditional Shabbat being observed in that episode.Why did they replace Big James in The Chosen? ›
Trivia (2) The role of Big James, originally played by Shayan Sobhian, was later recast to Kian Kavousi. This was because Sobhian departed to play Behrad Tarazi on DC's Legends of Tomorrow (2016).What denomination sponsors The Chosen? ›
Derral Eves, one of two Latter-day Saint executive producers of the hit show The Chosen, knows the show's creator, Dallas Jenkins, has received pushback for choosing to work with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Where does The Chosen get its funding? ›
Eves told CNA that funding comes from people “all over the world.” “The Chosen,” which provides its shows for free through an app for iOS or Android systems, or through the website of VidAngel, airs new shows right after filming is complete.What does BYU have to do with The Chosen? ›
Jonathan Roumie portrays Jesus Christ in the VidAngel's streaming series “The Chosen.” SALT LAKE CITY — BYUtv has acquired the broadcast and video-on-demand rights to seasons one and two of “The Chosen,” a popular series that recounts the life of Jesus Christ.What do Jews call God? ›
The name of God used most often in the Hebrew Bible is the Tetragrammaton (Hebrew: יהוה, romanized: YHWH). Jews traditionally do not pronounce it, and instead refer to God as HaShem, literally "the Name". In prayer, the Tetragrammaton is substituted with the pronunciation Adonai, meaning "My Lord".Why did God choose Israel over other nations? ›
He has chosen Israel for a purpose — to reveal His power, His faithfulness, and loving-kindness to all the earth. We who believe in Jesus are joined with Israel that believes into the same “olive tree” (Romans 11:17). God will have His way with Israel as He will with you.What does chosen mean in Hebrew? ›
The phenomenon of a "chosen people" is well known among the Israelites and Jews, where the term (Hebrew: עם סגולה / העם הנבחר, romanized: am segulah / ha-am ha-nivhar) originally referred to the Israelites as being selected by Yahweh to worship only him and to fulfill the mission of proclaiming his truth throughout the ...What book of the Bible is The Chosen based on? ›
The Chosen - Based on Luke 5.
Is The Chosen OK for kids to watch? ›
Some cautionary elements of the series include violence involving fighting, swords and other situations. Additional elements include lying, deception, greed and demonic possession. Due to these cautionary elements, the series earns our Dove-approved for Ages 12+ award for its dramatized retelling of Scripture.Is chosen on Netflix worth watching? ›
Critic Reviews for Chosen: Season 1
Nicely combining a teen drama with spooky space secrets and a Scooby Doo-esque "gang solves a mystery" setup, this Danish import has fresh appeal and intriguing riddles. June 15, 2022 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
You can watch The Chosen on Peacock. Peacock currently has 2 seasons of The Chosen available for streaming.Was the chosen one Cancelled? ›
Update: Production Suspended On Netflix Series 'The Chosen One' After Two Actors Die, Six Injured In Auto Accident Involving Cast & Crew.