9 April 2016 | bron-tay
It's the little things
Life in the cult is organic, harmonic, healthy, self-contained, and rational. The women wear simple cotton clothes, sensible footwear, and no makeup; the men are supportive. The writers and directors are doing a good job after 3 episodes of creating a world of "Meyerists" who use tools, workshops, sessions, incantations, programs, life on a compound, gatherings, etc. to nurture their wacky beliefs in a spiritual "Ladder" to "the Garden."
But while the major characters and plot lines are convincing, someone isn't trying hard enough on those throwaway scenes in any show that reflect attention to detail and a commitment to veracity and nuance. Things get eye-rollingly overt when some Meyerists wearing emblazoned t-shirts go preaching in a park and hook 3 people in a single afternoon. We see them nudge a firm-minded young woman out of her book and into their world in a few sentences. A local reporter is virtually converted on-air after a few minutes with one of the cult leaders, whose blathering wouldn't pass the smell test with anyone over the age of 12.
When we're introduced to the FBI, we establish the setting via two agents gossiping, literally at a water cooler (woops, it's a coffee machine, but close). "Hey, did you hear? Snyder was transferred to Terrorism." "Really? Snyder was transferred to Terrorism?" "Yeah, Snyder was transferred to Terrorism." "It's too bad that Snyder was transferred to Terrorism, because Snyder isn't the brightest bulb." The directors could benefit from watching a few episodes of "The Office."
The dinner-at-my-house scene where a 15-year-old girl tries to lure a Meyerist boy with a bite of steak (Meyerists apparently being committed vegetarians) is just annoying. "Come on," the girl teases, repeatedly poking a forkful at his mouth. The mother cheerfully eggs on her rude, silly daughter, and the boy confusedly eats meat for the first time in his life. Oh, and he likes it.
What would real people do in these situations? How does life really look? When I was going to UCLA, the same Scientologist occupied the same corner on Westwood Boulevard all day every day for 8 years, and I never saw anyone buy his books on Dianetics or exchange two words with him. When you invite someone over to your house for dinner, do you find out what their dietary religious restrictions are and then serve that very thing?
There are too many examples of this sort of thing to go over here, so I'll just restate, the creators need to get on their craft and quit sacrificing psychological veracity for convenience.