• Elaine Kelly

TV Series Review: The Chosen

Updated: Oct 8

The Chosen is a television drama streaming on its own app. The team behind The Chosen aims to bring the stories of the gospels of Jesus to the public in a free and accessible way, using character development, backstories and dialogue to support the truth and message of Scriptures. It is the first multi-season series based on the life of Jesus of Nazareth and season one was the highest crowd-funded TV series or film project of all time.

Creator/Director: Dallas Jenkins

Production Company: Loaves & Fishes Production; Angel Studios

Season 1: Released 2019

Genre: Biblical Fiction; Historical fiction, Christian history

Season One sets the atmosphere of Galilee in the time of Jesus, giving context to the Hebrew culture and pressures of Roman occupation and religious authorities. It also ties Old Testament prophecies into the telling of New Testament stories. Season One takes us from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry to the story of the woman at the well.

The Chosen does a wonderful job of bringing the stories of Jesus to life and developing the characters of Peter, Matthew, and Nicodemus; you can see their struggles and spiritual growth.

The Chosen minimizes the women’s roles, showing them as either as immoral or having a minor role without multi-dimentional develpment. Season One shows only one woman who becomes a disciple travelling with Jesus, Mary Magdalene. She is portrayed as being orphaned young, sexually abused, incoherent and depressed from demon possessionand. Travelling as the only woman with several men she is shown as a reformed prostitute unconcerned with her reputation. The mother of Jesus is in the episode at the wedding of Cana but does not become a disciple and will not show up again with the disciples until Season 2. The Chosen invents the fictional character of Ramah, as a friend for the apostle Thomas. The Chosen misses the opportunity to portray the many non-fictional biblical women or to show their spiritual development.

*spoilers ahead*

Episode 1: I have Called you by Name

Pro: Develops the story of Peter and his financial struggles, and Nicodemus and his spiritual struggles.

Cons: The creators perpetuate the traditional, unbiblical view of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute in the Red Quarter called Lilith, a name that literally means “night monster”. The Bible does not portray Mary Magdalene as a woman of the night but as a woman healed of seven demons who financially supports Jesus.

Episode 2: Shabbat

Pros: Excellent portrayal of how the Sabbath was historically observed by the Jews of various classes. Wonderful development of Matthew’s character as an outcast due to being a tax collector.

Con: It is not clear how Mary Magdalene comes to own a large home to host a Sabbath dinner, and how she knows the several people to come to dinner as her guests. Zohara, Nicodemus’ wife, is shown as highly materialistic leading her husband away from seeking God. No other roles for women in this episode.

Episode 3: Jesus Loves the Little Children

Pros: Shows Jesus before he begins his ministry, befriending children, shown as loving

Cons: Misses opportunity to develop characters of women in Nazareth, such as his mother or Mary of Clopas. To depict Jesus before he begins his ministry, it is interesting that The Chosen uses this fictional story, rather than a biblical story such as the temptation in the desert or the baptism of Jesus.

Episode 4: The Rock on Which it is Built

Pros: Jesus provides a miraculous catch of fish and Peter admits his faults and begins to change his ways and follow Jesus. Peter’s wife, Eden, is portrayed as a strong woman of faith, following the laws of Moses and her family duties. Eden admonishes Peter for not being faithful and teaches him to observe their faith. However, she is seen as a bit of a nag to Peter and he comes to spiritual realizations on his own. Excellent development of the characters of Matthew, Nicodemus, and the Romans.