Television is in a rut. There’s an abundance of great TV, but if the ratings for The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are any indication, we’re drawn to death, and grimness, and intricate plotlines that we can try to unweave. But to a degree, it’s also a misery slog: When that reunion happened in Game of Thrones last week, I couldn’t count the number of people who were excited to see a happy moment in the series for the first time in years. Meanwhile, on The Walking Dead we just wait for people to die. The burning question at the end of each episode is, “Who will die next”? Even on Netflix, there’s a formula, devised specifically to get you to keep watching. As great as television drama has become, it’s also been robbed of its joy.
AMC’s Preacher brings Joy back into the equation, and then Joy fucks Glee while Ultra-violence sits over in the corner and watches. This is the shot in the arm that television so desperately needs. It’s fun, but the stakes are also high. There’s an element of faith to it, but it doesn’t demand that we grieve. There’s a brooding character in the center of this fantastic new universe who broods, but he is not without the occasional smirk, especially when it comes to breaking the arms of rednecks. There’s sex appeal, but it’s not about nudity and fucking. It’s about attitude, and fluidity, and the pheromones seeping through our goddamn television screens.
Preacher is a force. It combines the Western themes of Unforgiven, the stylish ultra-violence of Tarantino, the comic sensibility of creators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and the purposeful, detail-oriented writing of Breaking Bad (thanks to showrunner Sam Catlin, previously of BB). Moreover, we don’t have to wait around for the characters to grow on us. They’re instantly likable. Dominic Cooper’s Jessie Custer is quiet, mysterious and magnetic; Joseph Gilgun’s Irish vampire Cassidy is wiry-arms and drunken, wry one-liners; Ruth Negga’s Tulip is a compact, ass-kicking Goddess with a whiff of True Romance’s Alabama Whitman; and even Arse-Face — a kid with a face shaped like an asshole — comes into the series fully-formed, in spite of the fact that he mumbles incoherently.
Preacher is a welcome shock to the system. The opening scene begins with a comet barreling out of the sky and ends with an exploding body. That’s what you can expect from the series: A funny, bloody, engrossing good time, an hour-long thrill ride with characters you can invest in, the music of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson (among others) and stories you can’t wait to see unfold. Strap in and Strap on, because if there’s any show on television that requires the latter, it’s Preacher.
Preacher premieres Sunday night on AMC.