What if all of Earth’s prayers were to be answered by a Prayer Department with a total staff of two?
The answer lies in TBS’ new limited comedy series Miracle Workers. The show is based on series creator Simon Rich’s book “What in God’s Name” and premiered with a star cast that includes Steve Buscemi as a slacker version of God. Working for him are “angels” played by
Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe and Geraldine Viswanathan.
How did the first episode stand up to the hype? Here’s our “expert” assessment.
What is Miracle Workers about?
The first episode introduces us to Heaven Inc., a massive company in the business of running Earth. God is the CEO of Heaven Inc. and lazes around his penthouse apartment while his employees complete menial tasks on autopilot.
Why is God so nonchalant about Earth? It stems from the fact that his lofty ambitions for the planet were undermined by his inability to see creation through, resulting in a haphazard invention that turned out nothing like he imagined, like a mad scientist who lets his monster creation run amok.
Rather than face the music, God allows Earth to function at a bare minimum until he hits a midlife crisis of sorts and decides to blow it up. When he delivers the news and lets go of his staff, the over-ambitious and newly-promoted Eliza (Viswanathan) refuses to give up her job in the Prayers department without a fight.
She enlists her only team member Craig, a shy and particular but hard-working fellow played by Daniel Radcliffe, to help her. It results in a high-stakes bet with God: if the Prayer Department can successfully answer any one of the millions of prayers that have gone unanswered, he won’t blow up Earth.
God also ups the ante by insisting the loser eats a live worm.
Does the premise hold up?
Miracle Workers may sound offbeat at the start but shapes up nicely as a workplace comedy. This sends it veering in a different direction than The Good Place, a Netflix series starring Kristen Bell that begs comparison.
Rather than a resting place, heaven is a massive corporation with various departments, like the Department of Clouds. This is a taste of the kind of playfulness that informs the show’s perspective on morality, ambition, and friendship within a world of utter chaos.
Are the characters interesting?
Once you can picture Steve Buscemi as God, it’s hard to get it out of your head. Seeing God luxuriate in a bachelor pad without a single care for the planet, its inhabitants, or their woes leaves is initially off-putting. However, Buscemi brings his usual hilarity. He also brings an unexpected naivete and sweetness to this version of God, bringing some nuance to the role.
His adversary appears in the shape of a young and well-intentioned employee. Unfortunately, her eagerness to make a difference often leads to trouble. Eliza is thrilled when she is transferred to the Prayers department and gets a chance to change lives, only to find that Heaven Inc. expects two employees to deal with the infinite stack of incoming prayers.
Eliza forms an unlikely partnership with Craig, who has a knack for helping people find lost things. Resigned to the fact that the department is far too understaffed to take on “real” prayers, he devotes his hours to helping people find missing gloves and keys. Craig is a realist with a soft spot who is likely to surprise us as Eliza forces him out of his shell.
Do the actors deliver in Miracle Workers?
Buscemi, Radcliffe, and Viswanathan hit a range of notes that work in good harmony. With her recent experience on teen sex comedy Blockers, Viswanathan’s plays well off of Buscemi. Her performance also balances out Radcliffe’s experimentation with deadpan delivery.
We also hope God stops wasting his personal assistants’ talents on futile things. If so, Sanjay (Karan Soni) and Rosie (Lolly Adefope) may also get a chance to heat things up.
Is Miracle Workers funny?
Miracle Workers keeps viewers engaged with its wild premise by providing the unexpected. Whether silly jokes, outlandish works of the imagination, or background gags, it’s downright entertaining.
If you generally enjoy watching workplace comedies, appreciate seeing tropes turned on their heads, or believe the best way to deal with existential doom is humour, give Miracle Workers a chance to win you over.
For those who hear voices in their head, love the song “My Sharona”, or get frustrated by constantly pitching ideas that just don’t work out — this show is definitely for you.
How to Watch in the UK
Miracle workers aired on TBS in the US in February. All seven episodes are currently available on the TBS app.
Unfortunately for UK viewers, the TBS app is restricted for use in America and its territories. Attempting to watch Miracle Workers here whilst outside the U.S. leads to a notification that the video is unavailable.
Will Miracle Workers air in the UK?
At the moment, there is no official broadcaster lined up to bring Miracle Workers to the UK.
Similarly, there is no official word about a second season. The only thing floating around is that if the show does get renewed, it would look very different.
According to The Wrap, Simon Rich’s vision involves an anthology series that recycles the same cast members but places them in wildly different roles and scenarios each season.
This format seems to suit Executive Producer and lead actor Daniel Radcliffe, who has gone on to play a wide and experimental range of one-off roles following his stint as Harry Potter. While he envisions the premise changing entirely, he assures that the tone and feel of the show will remain consistent with the first season.
“It’ll always be a comedy about existential doom. It’ll always be absurdist,” Rich said.
Here’s the trailer to tide you over until Miracle Workers crosses the pond.