February 27, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Living Biblically”


LIVING BIBLICALLY:  Monday 9:30PM on CBS – Change the Channel

LIVING BIBLICALLY is a CBS sitcom for the Age of Trump, and like so many artifacts of this age, it may well thrill its target audience while causing others to shudder.

Although inspired by a nonfiction book, Living Biblically is fully as hacky as one would expect from a longtime writer/producer of 2 Broke Girls, Patrick Walsh.  The entire content of the show is contained in the title:  newspaper film critic Chip Curry (Jay R. Ferguson), after the (off-screen) death of an old friend, the discovery that his wife Leslie (Lindsey Kraft) is pregnant, and coincidence (er, “signs”), decides to live his life completely in keeping with the strictures of the Old and New Testaments.  (Since this is CBS in the Age of Trump, of course no other religion than Judeo-Christianity exists.)  This means everything from a rejection of swear words to a change in attire so as not to mix fabrics, up to and including hitting an adulterer in the head with a stone.

Living Biblically knows it may face some resistance, and it builds in as many fail-safe devices as it can accommodate to assure viewers that all this godly behavior is, aww, just in fun.  Leslie is a doctor and a skeptic, Chip has a domineering but likable lesbian boss (Camryn Manheim), as well as no less than two quipping spiritual advisors (Ian Gomez and David Krumholtz as respectively a priest and a rabbi), there are jokey references in the script to cults and gonorrhea, and that guy Chip hits in the head is a douchebag and, needless to say, not seriously hurt by the assault.  In fact, the guy becomes a better human being afterwards, confessing his sins to his wife, so physical attack may be the way to solve all man’s problems.

The Living Biblically pilot, written by Walsh and directed by multi-cam veteran Andy Ackerman, is slick enough, and while Ferguson is an awfully bland lead and Kraft so far is just “the wife,” (perhaps fitting for the context), Gomez, Manheim and Manheim pick up some of the slack.  Still, it’s hard to get past the basic problem that the project manages to be both utterly cynical and propagandistic.  Chip isn’t truly pious; he’s just trying on the Bible the way he’d take up yoga or a new diet, yet because this is about Christianity in an increasingly fundamentalist era, the show has to take the position that lasting good will result from his decision.  It leaves a bad taste, and there’s nothing in Living Biblically to suggest that the talent involved with make things any less problematic.

Living Biblically is taking the place of 9JKL, another terrible comedy, on CBS’s Monday line-up, and it may prove to be more popular.  If anyone connected to the show feels entitled to be gleeful about that, they should remember that pride is one of the deadly sins.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."