After spending approximately eight hours watching Michael Petroni’s Netflix original series “Messiah” my opinion of religion did not change much, but my repulsion out of it developed into an objective curiosity and interest in the idea of Messianism. The stories I have heard of the “messiah” as known in monotheistic religions always gave me the brutal and discriminatory impression, from people believing they are exclusively holding the one truth, which kept me away from these ideas. But in Michael Petroni’s vision, the messiah does not associate himself with any religion (although looking like Jesus, coming from an area associating with Islam, and mentioning that he is half Jewish), considers himself the same as all other people, and comes in the purpose of bringing peace and forming a better world to mankind. And maybe the strength of the series is that it helps an atheist sympathize with frowned upon idea for him.
The ending of the series left me in a mystery about the message the series is trying to convey. Although presenting it through a secular point of view, I still do not fully understand what I should grasp. Is god alive? Or was it killed by the US government? And with all its power and ability, what is the difference between them? Perhaps asking these questions were the intention of the creators. In every moment of the series none of the characters seems to be heroic or villainous, and the entire story surrounds the question of the messiah’s motives and whether they are really positive or negative, so the audience could label him and place him in the spectrum of sympathy shared to screen characters.
As an Israeli, hearing Hebrew in foreign media bounces an uncontrolled smile on my face. Millions of people watch these scenes and I am among the few that actually understand the texts. And for an American TV series it is courageous to use foreign languages in a major part of the show. Especially when the languages are Hebrew and Arabic.
Since I am fun at parties, the last point I want to relate in “Messiah” is what bothered me the most, inaccuracies. Whether made purposely or because of lack of research work, they disturb my enjoyment from the story through the first half of the series. And it is bizarre coming from a production that taught Michelle Monaghan and Mehdi Dehbi texts in Hebrew for their role. Some of the inaccuracies most international viewers could not even vision. One example is the Israeli soldiers guarding the Syrian border, even if I ignore the fact that they speak fluent Arabic and do not just repeat the phrase “Wakef wakef walla ana batuchak”, the fact that they wear their service uniform instead of combat uniform makes me think that adequate inquiry was not made in pre-production. Another misconception in the series was geopolitical. The Israeli Syrian border maybe under dispute, but territories presented in the show as Syria are practically controlled by Israel. To simplify, Palestinian refugees could not walk across the Golan Heights, because they will run into the fence and the soldiers earlier on the way. The last mistake which also bothered me the most was geographic. As easy as it is to portrait the entire Middle East as one giant desert, in reality the Golan soil, known for its fertility, is very blooming and full of grasslands, orchards and in the coldest days of the winter even snow. And even though the symbolism of the desert is understandable, the inaccuracy indicates a lack of professionalism among the creators.