When it was originally on: 2016-2018
Original network: Hulu
Where you can stream it now: Hulu
Had I seen it before: No.
What IMDb says: A man who converts to a controversial following suffers from a crisis of faith.
Why I picked it: I needed some more Hulu originals to balance out the Netflix and Amazon ones I had picked, and Aaron Paul is in this one. I wish I had a better reason, but also Aaron Paul is a great reason to watch anything in my book.
What I liked: the Cal character is quite interesting, in spite of not being played by Aaron Paul. He’s a cult leader, but he also seems like a noble enough, relatively charismatic guy. When we first meet him, he’s busy rescuing tornado victims. He rejects sex from a beautiful woman because he believes SHE has unhealthy relationship with sex and he doesn’t want to perpetuate that. Cal is a likable enough dude that we don’t think less of the cult members who rally around him.
The show also does a great job of teasing a power struggle between Cal and Eddie (the dude who is played by Aaron Paul). Cal used to date Eddie’s wife, so there’s an intense personal rivalry in addition to larger differences in worldview. Nothing really comes to fruition in the pilot, but I can see how both of these characters could spend the whole series clashing with each other, both over Sarah (the woman at the center of their love triangle) and over larger issues of faith.
What I didn’t like: I wish I had a better grasp on this cult. We don’t actually know what the Meyerists believe. We don’t actually know what rules they have to follow or how cult members lives’ differ from everyone else’s. It’s odd to me that there’s a compound, but members seem able to come and go as they please. When we first meet Eddie and Sarah, it’s in a house in Parksdale, NY, whereas the Meyerist compound is simply in Upstate New York. Later I started to wonder, do Eddie and Sarah actually live on the compound? Had I missed something? I’m still not entirely sure.
It also appears that Eddie and Sarah’s kids attend regular school outside the compound, which doesn’t seem very cult-like to me. There’s one scene where their teenage son talks about taking his vows to join the Meyerists. At least I think he’s their son? They honestly don’t look old enough to have teenage children so I could be wrong about that.
It’s hard to identify with the Eddie character and his questioning of the Meyerists if we don’t even know what he’s actually questioning. The pilot needs some kind of creed that the Meyerists believe, or some example of rules they’re forced to follow. We also need examples of what the Meyerists do to people who stray from their ideology, because without that there’s no stakes. Unfortunately, we don’t really get any of that. We just know there’s this group called the Meyerists, they’re based in upstate New York, and Eddie doesn’t like them.
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: Yes. I’m honestly not sure that I full-on LIKE this show quite yet, but it was at least good enough to make me curious about where the story’s going to go next.