Saturday, 29 May 2010

What 'how to be god' was about

I suppose it's strange that a show called how to be god doesn't have a lot to do with religion. You wouldn't think this from watching the first three episodes, which seem to be setting up some sort of 'world domination' for Ineptianity. But it's inept, it was never going to work, and pretty quickly the show becomes about something else. It's about this group of people trying to look after each other. Wash, even though he has a serious illness, refuses to let Georgina look after him. From episode two, where he says 'don't try to look after me', she is still determined to try. This comes out in frustrated punches in episode four, and then eventually giving into worry with sleepless nights and drinking.

In turn Wash tries to look after her. He almost entirely ignores Amy's problem in episode six and goes back to tuck up George, who had fallen asleep on his bed. It's a struggle, with both of them refusing to give in and admit their problems. By the last episode Wash has lost, letting George stand over and give orders - even though he does manage to sneak out for biscuits. Dylan and Amy go through a similar thing, except that it's one-way. Amy seems to be depressed for the entire series, and when the problem with Martin appears Dylan finally has an opportunity to look after her. She resists at first, but then Dylan does what Wash and George never could. He says 'I think you should let me look after you', and then it's all okay.

The religion has taken second place behind all of this, especially after episode five when Wash admits that 'he doesn't care anymore'. As his illness gets worse he tries to spend more time with the things that matter to him. But religion is still poisonous to these characters. The first Ineptianity event is too much for Wash to deal with, he'd rather stay in his room and eat biscuits. His relationship with Laura is pointlessly ruined by religious differences. He falls unconscious after trying to defend his religion to Martin. It divides these people and keeps them apart for no sensible reason. And it is only once Amy has thrown it off entirely that she can be happy. She says that the church has become 'just a building', it's just a place full of objects now. It's 'just a building' for Wash too, who says that it's best to 'stay right away'. It took about a year for them to realise this. The first shot of episode one is the church under a grey sky where Wash describes it as 'competition'. By the end of the last episode, where the shot returns on a sunnier day, it's just bricks. It's not a place for ridicule or admiration anymore, these character's don't care - 'it's just a building'.

There are some things that worked well, some things that didn't. I have favourite scenes and some that I don't want to watch again. It's not that cleverly structured and doesn't always go in the right direction. But when Amy walks into the church in the last episode, looks around, then walks away, it all makes sense to me. The last few minutes of the show are the best thing I've ever filmed. In the end people smile. That's good.

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