I finally started watching Preacher
yesterday -- which from the one trailer I had seen
I thought was gonna be about Ruth Negga's character Tulip, but instead she has like 3rd billing and it's mostly about this white dude I don't care about. (This scene
is the continuation of that Tulip scene and is arguably the best scene of the show. I was LIVING for Tulip with those kids -- and loved the 10-year-old girl so much; "I'm in charge.") [I also feel like the show is intentionally lighting Ruth Negga to wash out her skin color so her Blackness is much less obvious. I think the show very much intends her character to be a Black woman, but I found it interesting that she seems much paler here than e.g. in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.]
Also, I'm not sure that the people making this show have ever regularly attended church. Which, maybe I'm being unfair and am just unfamiliar with this particular brand of church, but it feels like a sort of mix-and-match of Catholic and Protestant.
Jesse has taken over the role of preacher at this tiny town's tiny church from his father, and it's a small wooden church, very low-church style, church bulletins every Sunday. So okay, we're doing small town non-denominational Protestantism that doesn't require that clergy be ordained. And there's a strong emphasis (at least from the preacher) on "being saved," and we do adult baptism that seems to be about the moment you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.
But we also have Communion wine and Communion wafers. And people confess things to Jesse in a way that feels very Catholic to me. (And no one seems to have heard of mandated reporters -- but I sort of expect that from tv/movies for plot reasons.)
And Jesse always wears his clergy collar -- which maybe is a thing in these sorts of spaces? I don't actually know, having only ever been in [mostly progressive] New England suburban Protestant spaces, but it feels like a very Catholic/high-church thing to me (the low-church Protestants I know will wear collars when they are intentionally acting as clergy, like visiting the sick or showing up at protests, but they don't wear them all the time ... though there's an argument to be made that this is an intentional choice in the show because Jesse is purposely inhabiting the role of The Preacher as his defining 24/7 identity, even when he's getting drunk etc.).
There is some interesting stuff. Some sort of angelic/demonic power has escaped, and it inhabits various clergyfolk, who explode moments after being inhabited, before landing in Jesse, who passes out for 3 days (symbolic, right?) but totally lives through the experience and is able to channel this power -- which basically manifests as a tone of voice that compels the listener to do exactly (literally) what Jesse has said. It sometimes comes out when he's really emotional, but he's mostly able to do it intentionally.
His use of it definitely feels like some of it is a power trip, but he also made a promise to his father when he was a child -- which we have yet to get the exact verbiage of (unless I blinked somewhere) but which I get the impression is about filling his father's shoes as the preacher and saving the town.
I'm a sucker for exploring Christian themes, so I got more interested as the episodes went on and we started learning more about this power, but it felt like a really slow start 'cause most of the characters aren't that likable (not entirely true, but they're mostly some degree of terrible and/or some degree of uninteresting), so without an engaging plot, why was I watching? I think the show's tendency to keep everything
mysterious does itself a disservice -- because it makes harder for me the viewer to care about anyone/anything, and it's not like the reveals have been all that rewarding for having been surprises.
I'm also not sure if the show wants
me to be rooting for Jesse -- or what "rooting for him" would mean. At first, I thought the show wanted me to like him more than I did -- because he's the protagonist, and I often have a high bar for white dude characters. But in Episode 6 I feel like things start to turn -- culminating in "go to hell," which, if nothing else, is an unequivocal narrative statement that we can't be wholly on board with Jesse's current relationship with this power.