THE CHOSEN Director Dallas Jenkins on the Program’s Future: ‘What’s Happening Is So Clearly Bigger Than Anything I’m Capable of’
By Movieguide® Staff
While attending the Christian media convention NRB, Movieguide® had the opportunity to discuss how the record-breaking, crowd-funded hit THE CHOSEN continues to impact audiences in its second season.
Creator Dallas Jenkins addressed the recent controversy around Season 2, Episode 5, and explained his heart behind the show’s interpretation of God’s word.
“There were some people uncomfortable with the fact that we show Mary Magdalene relapse, we show her failing, and her attempts to recover from some of the pain and trauma of her past,” Jenkins told Movieguide®’s Evy Baehr Carroll. “The good news is, we got tons and tons of letters from people saying, ‘That’s me, and I felt shame for the fact that I didn’t have it all figured out after I met Jesus. And that when I faced triggers from my past, I didn’t rely on the tools that I had, and I had to keep working on it and keep being sanctified.'”
While some viewers expressed their thankfulness for the show’s relatable and honest portrayal, other viewers did not appreciate the interpretation of Scripture.
“But for some people, they were like,’ Wait a minute, she has been saved and redeemed. There’s nothing in the Bible that says that she ever struggled again with her past sins or a past life. And this is a problem,'” Jenkins explained. “That bothered me more than almost any criticism that we’ve gotten, not because I care about the show itself, I’m not defensive of the show. For me, it was a defense of the Gospel, that we need Jesus every day, that we need to be reminded of our need for a savior every day.
“Things don’t become all sunshine and rainbows after we meet Jesus,” Jenkins added. “We have tools now. But when we make mistakes, we don’t access those tools as often as we should. And that was true for the disciples and followers of Jesus as well.”
Jenkins noted that he hopes episode six will help viewers process the show’s theme, which is to show an authentic depiction of Jesus.
“Now, those who have seen Episode Six, see where the story goes,” Jenkins said. “And the important thing about this story is that there’s redemption, and Mary didn’t believe she could get it a second time. She actually says to Matthew and Simon, ‘he fixed me once, and I broke again.’ And she thinks ‘I can’t face him, I can’t do it, he redeemed me. I’m done. And I failed.’ And when she encounters Jesus again, and has to face him, his response is what I hope everyone who ever struggles feels from Jesus. And that’s what the show can hopefully do.”
Jenkins encouraged fans to not view THE CHOSEN as a substitute or equal to God’s Word.
“Well, we make it very clear as often as possible, this is not the Bible. And I am not God. And Jonathan, who plays Jesus is not Jesus,” Jenkins noted. “And we say that not to try to diminish our responsibility to be faithful to God’s Word and to the character intentions of Jesus in the Gospels. But we don’t want people to be thinking, ‘Wait a minute, you didn’t include that story? I needed that story.’ No, you can go to the Bible for that.
“I’m doing the best that I can to honor the character and intentions of Jesus in the Gospels. I’m a flawed, sinful, broken human being. This is not God’s word, I’m not claiming the same inspiration that the writers of the Bible had. So ultimately, the show is to point you closer to your relationship with Jesus and ultimately to God’s word,” he continued.
Since its debut episode in Dec. 2017, THE CHOSEN has become the most successful crowd-funded TV series in history. According to THE CHOSEN app, which is available on the App Store, the show has over 200,000,000 views worldwide.
“What’s happening is so clearly bigger than anything that I’m capable of that it’s easy to kind of maintain this posture of, ‘wow, this is really cool what God’s doing,'” Jenkins said. “I’m fortunate to be part of it.”
He added: “I have to tell you, Movieguide®, when they were doing a review of the first four episodes, long before the show was cool, said there’s little doubt that this will end up being one of the most well known and influential pieces of Christian media. And I remember using that quote going like, ‘Well, they believe in something here.’ I think someone at Movieguide® saw this coming. I didn’t. But it’s been fun to be part of.”
Jenkins said that the show’s ability to relate to a broad audience of various ages, backgrounds, and even religions has helped the show succeed.
“I’m seeing 6-year-olds who love every episode, it doesn’t make any sense to me, because the show is confusing for some people who are adults,” Jenkins laughed. “But I think God’s got something to say. And we’re just trying to make sure that we shepherd it properly.
“That’s the whole point of the show, for you to see Jesus through the eyes of those who actually met him, so that you can be changed in the same way they were,” Jenkins continued. “And the only way that’s going to happen is if I’m able to portray the first century, and portray those people as the same kind of human beings that we are. And I think that’s true. Anytime you read Scripture, you go, ‘Wow, I can relate to that, that lust struggle or that pride struggle, or that violent streak or that temper. So somebody, every viewer can identify with someone in the show.”