Brits binge-watch The Chosen on big tellies




Three friends, two vicars and a musician have encouraged me to watch the historical drama, The Chosen. That’s in addition to the regular input I receive from Sorted Magazine’s movie buff, Andy Godfrey, who has thus far enthused about it here, here, here and here.

What’s the buzz about? Why is The Chosen one of the most-watched shows in the world? Why is it consistently a top-performer across streaming platforms Amazon Prime, Peacock and Netflix and a top-rated broadcast weekly on The CW? Why have episodes drawn 770 million views? How has it grown from a crowdfunded project into one of the most popular series in the world? And why does The Chosen have over twelve million followers across social platforms?

Over the course of its first three seasons, the series garnered praise from critics and fans alike for its historical and biblical accuracy, playful spirit, stirring drama, genuine humour, and disruptive impact. And I understand that ambitious plans are afoot to translate The Chosen into over 600 languages which could potentially make it the most translated series in the world. I needed to find out what everyone was talking about and, after a faltering start, began watching Season One in earnest. A trusted friend had confided that she had found it to be a slow burn to start with, that I should “stick with it”, that the pace would “pick up” and it would be “well worth the wait”.

My friend was correct on all counts. Against everything I’d learned on screenwriting courses, with The Chosen Season One, there was no cutting to the chase. Because The Chosen is an ongoing series, rather than a one-off movie, the writers have had an abundance of screen time to work with. They have used this extra time to develop and build the storyline and unpack the backstories of some of the characters involved. In that respect, and in many other respects, The Chosen is unlike any other dramatization about Jesus’ life I have ever seen.

I confess to experiencing feelings of impatience and frustration just waiting for the story to unfold, waiting for familiar historical events to “kick off”. During this adjustment of sitting patiently and slowing down to the pace of the story I realised that perhaps I was feeling, in a very small way, something of what the Israelites must have felt waiting and waiting and waiting for their promised Messiah to arrive. Waiting was what they knew well. And by the end of Season One’s third episode I began to feel a connection to them which I had never previously experienced. I began to relate to them a little better, to understand a little more of the slower times into which Jesus was born.

After watching a few episodes of Season One I settled comfortably into the familiar rhythm of play. And so, it seemed to me, had the cast. The actors themselves seemed more at home. Easier in their own skins, easier about working together, easier with the dusty ancient world they were inhabiting. I observed my own mild irritation at what seemed like petty squabbles and one-up-man ship along with a growing realisation that these ancient people were probably no different to the rest of us. Sometimes they’d get caught up in the pushing and shoving between families, communities and colleagues which is common to everyone across the panorama of human existence.

Why is The Chosen series off the scale in its creative risk taking? Why has the producer, director and writer, Dallas Jenkins (pictured above) boldly gone where no man has gone before? His vision to create a detailed and lengthy dramatization of the gospel accounts holds the potential to upend the understanding of the millions of people who feel they already know them well. People who hold them dear. Sacred even. Jenkins and his creative team have certainly shaken up something which is familiar, but many viewers seem to find this refreshing!

I may have to accept that while watching The Chosen I’m seeing an imagined Middle Eastern world through the lens of contemporary western culture and mindsets. Nevertheless I believe that the writers and producers have done their homework and have succeeded in creating rich, relatable human story lines which form the framework for each episode. Issues I had never previously considered have presented themselves to me. Unresolved questions have been, at least partially, resolved. Especially in relation to the recording of the gospel accounts. As something of a frantic scribbler myself it’s been interesting and reassuring to witness Matthew (Paras Patel, pictured above) dutifully scribbling away like a court reporter, recording events and statements as they unfold in real time. Watching The Chosen has been like seeing a complex tapestry appear stitch, by surprising stitch, until eventually I was able to make out something familiar.

Season Two shifts up a gear as the narrative gathers momentum and the disciples interact with Jesus more and more. And it has to be said, the acting is simply superb. Some scenes were performed with such intensity they gave me the shivers. The actor, Jonathan Roumie (pictured above; far right) consistently portrays a magnetic and masterful Jesus. Disclosure: As someone who aims to follow Jesus, from his first moment on screen, I felt I sort of knew him before I knew him, and yet wanted to know him all over again. Here was a Jesus I could recognise and relate to. What a joy to see Jesus dancing, running and splashing. To see his kindness towards his Mother Mary (pictured next to Jesus above).

Season Three races along and delivers yet more surprises. I’ve been particularly intrigued by the Roman officer, Gaius, believably played by the seasoned actor Kirk Woller (pictured above left). Gaius, a powerful man, is essentially “the enemy” but Woller somehow injects him with a rare combination of don’t-mess-with-me strength, curiosity and softness. Sorted Magazine’s Andy Godfrey recently interviewed Kirk Woller and, as Digital Editor, I had the privilege of eavesdropping on their zoom conversation. He came across as a sensitive and compassionate man and perhaps these characteristics are somehow shining through on the screen.

Gaius is not recorded by name in any of the gospel accounts. He’s a compilation of characters. Perhaps this is why I find him to be the most unpredictable, the most mysterious and possibly the most conflicted of all the characters on screen. At any moment Gaius might draw his sword or fall on his knees. I’m fearing and cheering him. He is the wild card we never knew about. He’s the outlier watching from the wings. The stakes are high for him, he has much to lose. Gaius actually reminds me of some people I know and I’m eagerly standing by for the release of Season Four, hoping I will discover more of what Gaius is really about.

To find out more please visit:

Season 1 | The Chosen

Season 2 | The Chosen

Season 3 | The Chosen

All Photo Credits: Courtesy of The Chosen

Val Fraser

Val Fraser is a trained journalist with over 12 years’ experience working on staff in various demanding media environments. She has authored/edited thousands of articles including news, travel and features. Val has authored/contributed to nine non-fiction books. A regular columnist, she stepped up to the role of Digital Editor in September 2022 and is responsible for the Sorted Magazine website.

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