During SCAD aTVfest, actor Jon Bass spoke about his role on the new TBS series “Miracle Workers,” a show about G-d giving up on humanity to focus on a new restaurant, leaving the job to a band of defunct angels.
The show, shot in Atlanta, is created by Simon Rich and based on his novel “What’s in God’s Name.” The cast includes Steve Buscemi as G-d, Daniel Radcliffe as Craig, and Geraldine Viswanathan as Eliza. Craig and Eliza are two low-level angels sent to answer an “impossible prayer,” to divinely set up a meeting between Sam and Laura, two socially awkward people, that ends with a kiss. If they can accomplish their goal, they save humanity from destruction.
Bass plays Sam, an earthbound human who wants to find true love. He sends a prayer to G-d to get a Laura to go on a date with him, a characteristic Bass describes as “very Jewish.” The angels have a tough job on their hands and they never sleep, which Bass says is a result of the state of modern dating.
“We’re so bad at dating; we have 500 apps and we still can’t find anyone,” Bass says. “It’s awful, and you actually need heaven to intervene for two awkward people to fall in love.”
While on set, Bass, who plays Sam, says he anticipated viewer’s reaction to the depiction of G-d and heaven in the television series. “I wonder if people will be like, ‘How dare you?’” Bass says.
“I don’t want to make a generalization, but Jews are pretty cool about any sort of heavenly depiction. We’re pretty much down for what someone wants to show because we don’t believe in heaven or hell. But the depiction of heaven is so ridiculous; if anyone has an issue with this, I’ll be hard pressed to see their point of view.”
Bass grew up in a Jewish home in Houston, Texas, a city he describes as having a “fairly large Jewish population. Having heard stories about G-d as a child, threatening to destroy the world or destroying the world, like in the case of Noah, helps Bass wrap his mind around the storyline.
“G-d giving up isn’t exactly the best way to see the world, but if I was G-d right now, I’d probably want to give up,” Bass says.
The show creator is a Jewish novelist and screenwriter who is one of the youngest writers to be hired by “Saturday Night Live.” Like the stories of many Jews in the Old Testament and contemporary fiction, his writings explore the human condition and nature of G-d, often questioning traditional representations. Bass says he’s a fan of Rich’s work and his ability to expand on certain themes by taking simple concepts and creating “zany” worlds.
“He wrote a really great human,” Bass says. “He excels at writing angels and wildebeest, and excels even more at writing awkward Jewish guys. I’m glad I get to be a part of his world and the opportunity to play this character.”
Of filming in Atlanta, Bass says he loves the city because it’s bike accessible. He also enjoys spending time at Ponce City Market, but admits he was forewarned to stay away from the super popular mixed-use development.
“My favorite thing about shooting in Atlanta is Ponce City Market. Geraldine, who plays Eliza, lived at Ponce City Market and everyone was like ‘Don’t live at Ponce City Market. You’ll hate it there; it’s so touristy.’ Then me and Karan Soni showed up and were like ‘It’s amazing!’”
“Miracle Workers” airs on TBS at 10:30 p.m. EST and 9:30 p.m. CDT Tuesdays.