Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Everyone Else Burns, on CW

Judge not, lest you be judged—unless you’re judging Evangelicals, in which case, go ahead and judge away. That could be the unofficial motto of the CW’s latest British sitcom import. The Lewis family belongs to a very strict church, so boy, do they ever get mocked for it in creators Dillon Mapletoft & Oliver Taylor’s Everyone Else Burns, which premieres Thursday on the CW.

David Lewis belongs to the Order of the Holy Rod, so his family does too, whether they like it or not. The strict church expels members for drinking coffee, but even they think he is a total pill. Their teen daughter Rachel is a brilliant student, but her parents are dead-set against her attending university, because they believe it will be a cesspool of evil, an opinion that probably sounded ludicrously deranged to the writers two weeks ago, before campus started protesting in solidarity with terrorism. Now, maybe somewhat less so.

Regardless, his wife Fiona yearns for some kind of life outside the house and more to the point, away from him. She is not close to the neighbor Melissa, but the recent divorcee is still willing to help her, out of disdain for her David. Their young son Joshua is a true believer, to a psychotic degree, who gleefully envisions his father suffering the torments of Hell. Like everyone else in the congregation, the young brat prefers the company of Lewis’s rival in the upcoming Elder selection, Andrew, who is the likable, caring exception to the generally venomous portrayal of Evangelicals throughout the first two episodes.

You can see Simon Bird and the rest of the ensemble have really polished comedic timing. They definitely punch up the material with their delivery. The problem is the jokes are clearly written from the point-of-view of people looking from the outside, into the Evangelical tradition, with contempt. Imagine a sitcom about a Muslim family with endless suicide bomber gags or a Jewish family constantly mocked for their cheapness. That is basically the level of mean-spiritedness displayed in
Everyone Else Burns.

Son of a Critch is a surprise gem, because it has a good heart. That is completely absent from Mapletoft & Taylor’s series. Lewis despises everyone because they do not share his worldview and Mapletoft & Taylor despise him for the same reason. Ultimately, it just tires the spirit sitting through that kind of attitude. Not recommended (based on the first two episodes—I couldn’t take anymore), Everyone Else Burns starts this Thursday (10/26) on the CW.