Out of curiosity, I watched the “Pilot” episode of the new CBS drama, “Pure Genius.” I was surprised how subtly evangelical faith was mocked in the program.
The premise of the show is about a Silicon Valley tech billionaire who establishes a hospital, Bunker Hill, and recruits world-class doctors to staff it. It would be akin to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates partnering with the medical community.
The pilot episode mocked evangelicals in two ways. One is that the show establishes the “majesty of man.” “If we can dream it, we can do it” is the resounding theme of the program. As the tech billionaire, James Bell, explains to Dr. Walter Wallace, a new recruit, Bunker Hill blends the best of technology with the best of medicine in order to “cut through the red tape” and “get things done.” They dream up solutions and create new technology in order to save lives. They do not accept or abide by any limitations.
The second way the program subtly ridiculed faith was by portraying a Christian as a controlling, abusive person. One of the story lines in the first episode was a pregnant woman who had a tumor growing around her heart. Doctors could not operate because her pregnancy wasn’t far enough along for the baby to survive outside the womb. The parents had chosen previously not to undergo chemotherapy because of the potential side effects on the child.
As the story moves forward, the father clearly exhibits faith and wants the doctors and his wife to trust God. He asks them all to hold hands and pray for “two more weeks” before performing a C-section to deliver the baby and also doing surgery to remove the tumor from his wife. He is portrayed as an evangelical since he prays in the name of Jesus.
Up to this point, it appears to be an even handed portrayal of faith and prayer. However, James Bell, the tech billionaire is clearly uncomfortable with faith because he stands in the hallway looking on while the parents are praying. Later, you see a group of people either meditating or practicing yoga on the grounds of the hospital which indicates eastern religions are favored. The show takes a negative turn by revealing that the husband has been abusing his wife.
The episode leaves you with a negative view of religion. On the one hand, you don’t need God because men and women are smart and creative enough to solve any problem. On the other hand, those who profess to follow God are controlling and abusive. If you must practice religion, make sure it is of an eastern variety rather than evangelical Christianity. A very subtle message woven skillfully into a drama.