On track to become one of the most watched series in the world with 600-million-episode views and counting, The Chosen’s exponential success has fans critiquing how its achievements should be handled.
The historical drama’s groundbreaking portrayal of Jesus (Jonathan Roumie) and his disciples, examines Jesus’ life and teachings against the backdrop of Roman oppression in first-century Israel and illuminates how He impacted people.
With seven seasons planned, the first three will soon be available in 50 languages and the upcoming fourth season will have the most extensive global premiere cinema release the series has seen to date.
It’s a recent promotional tour to Paris though, that has some Chosen fans unsure of what to make of the success.
Visiting for a special screening at Europe’s biggest cinema, Jonathan Roumie was captured walking the red carpet in a designer suit, meeting fans and showcasing the series. Nothing unusual within the entertainment industry, but debate has appeared on The Chosen’s official Instagram page about the appropriateness of the event given the shows’ central themes.
“You should be more humble than that,” one user said.
“I hope fame and money don’t ruin you. Don’t be a Hollywood star, be [a] people’s choice star.”
“Vulgarity at its finest,” wrote another.
“If Jesus was a pop star this is how he would look.”
Others have been quick to defend the actor and the promotion.
“That’s a really big stage for the show to be on. He’s looking his best to spread the word of God through the show.”
“Jonathan always does such a sweet, humble job on the carpet. Seems like he enjoyed France. Yay for The Chosen getting out there globally.”
“I am really so happy and proud of Jonathan Roumie. [His] humbleness and kindness are so beautiful. They are a constant reminder that we also can and need to cultivate those virtues as well.”
A Chosen response
When one user called for Jonathan to “stay as humble as Jesus”, @thechosentvseries replied, “as humble as Jesus, a tough act to follow.”
On the whole, The Chosen fans – who have been the lifeblood of the show since its crowdfunded inception – celebrated the expanding reach of the series. But the debate highlights a longstanding conundrum for faith communities who want social impact but decry the “trappings of fame” and ambition.
Wherever you sit on that spectrum, what can’t be denied is the global conversation about Jesus that’s been inspired by the show and the appetite viewers have for more.
“Every time we’ve dipped our toes in the theatrical waters, viewers have overwhelmingly told us they want more,” creator and director Dallas Jenkins said.
“Every time we’ve dipped our toes in the theatrical waters, viewers have overwhelmingly told us they want more,” – Dallas Jenkins, director of The Chosen
“After seeing the Season 4 episodes, we knew we’d be doing our fans a disservice if we denied them the chance to see them on a big screen with others they can laugh and cry with.”
Season 4 is set to focus on the clashing kingdoms in Israel at the time, the increasing animosity toward Jesus and how His followers humanity leaves him to carry the burden alone.
Starting February 1 next year, Australian and New Zealand viewers will get to see The Chosen Season 4 premiere in cinemas, with additional releases happening on mobile apps, broadcast and cable TV.
As more commercial success undoubtably comes the way of The Chosen, perhaps this fan puts it best: “Remember [Jonathan Roumie] ain’t the real Jesus. Keep him, rest of cast and crew in prayers [rather] than judging them.”
Feature image: Supplied