What If God Were Serving Lunch

Joan of Arcadia Brings Divine Sneakiness (and Teenage Angst) to CBS

We’ve been Touched by an Angel and even walked the Highway to Heaven. Yes, folks, divine intervention has found its way into prime time television in the past, but hold on to your haloes, the newest addition to spiritual programming does more than send winged friends to earth.

The Big Cheese Himself—or in some cases, Herself—steps into the spotlight in CBS’s new Friday night show Joan of Arcadia (8 p.m. ET/PT, premiered Sept. 26). Wait, before you picture a glowing light or a grandfatherly-looking dude with a booming voice, prepare to be surprised.

God’s kinda…hot?
Joan Girardi, our protagonist, has recently moved to the town of Arcadia with her family. While not drama-free, the Girardis are a loving family: Dad, chief of police, strives to be there for his family and keep order in his new town. Joan’s mother works at the school that Joan and her brainiac brother Luke attend, though she spends most of her time worrying about the future of older brother Kevin, confined to a wheelchair after a tragic automobile accident.

And, overall, Joan is your average teenage girl…except she starts hearing voices. The voices seem like they’re all in her head until she bumps into God in the form of a cute boy her age. Trying to convince her of who He is, God lists some obscure details of her life, but this doesn’t really accomplish much but anger her. In the end, she orders cute-guy-God to take a hike.

Of trees and beef surprise
When Almighty-cute-boy approaches Joan again, He lures her in. He reveals a promise she made to Him at the time of her brother’s car accident in exchange for Kevin being allowed to live. She starts to be convinced but asks for proof. “Show me a miracle,” she demands. “Okay,” he says and looks up at a tree. “But…that’s a tree,” she argues. His retort is, “Let’s see you make one.”

The divine sense of humor manifests itself through many one-liners like that.

Now that He has her interest, God tells Joan that He needs her to do a few “errands” for Him—the first of which is to get a job at the local bookstore. Huh? Joan chickens out on the job, so God visits again, but this time She’s a lunch lady in the school cafeteria. In order to avoid more unnerving encounters, Joan rushes to the bookstore to apply for the job.

Mysterious ways
Just as it truly happens in the inexplicable-yet-daily forms of divine intervention in our own lives, Joan of Arcadia’s funky adventures with the Big G remind us how God really does come to us in many forms, easing His way into our lives even when we’re not looking or expecting Him.

After doing God’s bidding and scoring the job, Joan is left wondering what this strange task means. Her unexpected employment puzzles her entire family, but touches one member in a unique way. Kevin thanks her for “shaming him back into the world”; if his little sister can get a job, then surely he can. Ooooooohhhhh. That’s what God was thinking.