The Evil Joan of Arcadia

A few seasons ago, Peter and I enjoyed the TV show Joan of Arcadia. In it, an apathetic 16-year-old girl suddenly has God talking to her in the form of random people she encounters. When she follows their cryptic instructions, she indirectly became a force of positive change in the world. It also had an interesting side themes with her parents struggling with religion, a disabled brother redefining his life, and evil making itself known in various ways. Like most shows that intrigue us, it quickly went off the air.

Recently, through Netflix, we got the DVDs for Wonderfalls. It’s similar to Joan of Arcadia in that a young woman hears voices that instruct her to do odd things which make her obliquely improve this world. But after seeing the first episode, Peter and I started calling it the evil version of Joan of Arcadia. For one thing, the young woman in this series is 24, and she’s not in danger of becoming a slacker, she is a slacker, and an overeducated one from a hyper-achieving family at that. Instead of people speaking to her, it’s inanimate objects, like a monkey bookend or a warped wax lion. Interestingly, those close to religion, like a nun or her theologian brother, believe the instructions she’s getting are from God, but the heroine is less than sure about it, and instead is often annoyed. She’s even on the naughty side, either personally (as when she takes cremated remains from an urn and puts them in a small barrel to throw into Niagra Falls) or via her cryptic instructions (as when she hides disability checks from a neighbor who’s about to be evicted as a result.) It’s funnier, but it’s definitely not nice. We like it a lot: so it shouldn’t have suprised us that the network yanked it after only airing 4 shows.

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