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Series Review: Mrs. Davis

“Now here’s a fun fact.”

If there were an algorithm that could give me exactly what I want, it would give me this series. It has the grail (you know, the holy one, but not with the origin story you’re used to), an evil all-seeing social media app, nuns, magic (the prestidigitation kind), a faux pope and a real pope, a comical men’s rights community, a comical convent, mother/daughter drama, absurdist humor, a cat, a whale, a horse, and a tight plot that spans continents and, in a way, all of time.

That doesn’t mean I’m capable of explaining it.

The first time I tried to describe this show to a friend I said, “Okay, so it’s set in the present day, but there’s an algorithm called Mrs. Davis that gives you exactly what you want or need, but there’s also a nun who hates the algorithm, and she has a close relationship with Jesus, in a way that I think people could like regardless of their thoughts on Christianity, and there’s a men’s rights association, but they’re actually really sympathetic, and...” At that point, I could tell by the look on my friend’s face that I hadn’t communicated anything significant about this show’s mood, meaning, or quality. She still hasn’t tried to watch it.

So let’s try again: This is an eight-episode limited series on Peacock, co-created by Damon Lindelof, of Lost, The Leftovers, and Watchmen, and Tara Hernandez, who has worked on The Big Bang Theory and its spinoff, Young Sheldon. It has new versions of all of Lindelof’s go-to themes paired with the whimsy that I’m sure TBBT hoped to achieve. (I watched 15 minutes of that show once and turned it off.)

Betty Gilpin, from GLOW, plays a sardonic, supercool nun named Simone who hates Mrs. Davis and cheating magicians. She was raised by a cheating magician father and a mom who is so calculating she might as well be an algorithm, except that she never gives you what you want or need. In her adult life, Simone has found succor in Jesus and a convent run by Margo Martindale as the Mother Superior. I love Margo Martindale.

When Simone’s convent is closed (thanks to Mrs. Davis), she plots revenge. Mrs. Davis—who, let’s not forget, is an app that gives you exactly what you need—tells Simone that “She” (which is how the app is referred to, complete with capitalization in the captions) will destroy Herself if Simone finds and destroys the Holy Grail. Which, by the way, really exists.

Simone pairs up with her ex-boyfriend Wiley (Jake McDorman), a failed rodeo star who has used his gigantic inheritance to fund a group of men who are sorta trying to defeat Mrs. Davis from their underground lair, but are mostly working through their issues with the complexity of twenty-first-century masculinity. One of those guys is played by Chris Diamantopoulos—you’ll recognize him when you see him, and you’ll be happy when you do.

Their adventures take many turns and span many continents. There’s a shoe-obsessed priest, a whale with a prize in its belly, falafel, a group of women who have spent centuries protecting the grail (led by Katja Herbers from Evil) and a scientist named Schrodinger who has a cat. He’s played by Ben Chaplin. Schrodinger, that is, not the cat.

I don’t want to tell you any more than that, because the plot of this show never goes where you expect, but always satisfies. Please, seriously, just watch this wonderful show.

He makes falafel.

I’ve loved Lindelof’s work for years. I’m a Lost apologist and a Leftovers superfan. I have recommended Watchmen to everyone I know. It’s been a pleasure watching Lindelof grow over the years, from the early days of ham-handed symbolism and the tedious suburban anhedonia of the first season of The Leftovers to the pure delights of his later works. (Again, shout-out to The Leftovers, especially the last two seasons!)

Lindelof’s previous shows spotlit two thematic conflicts: fathers vs. sons, and science vs. faith. He’s flirted with what he once referred to as “wackadoo mythology” and is also willing to grapple with the challenges of religion: he wrote a short story adaptation of the binding of Isaac, for instance.

I can only assume it is Hernandez’s influence that allows this show to branch out: mothers vs. daughters, for instance, rather than Lindelof’s manlier focus. But this show represents a shift from the science vs. faith binary we see in Lindelof’s previous work. Instead, Mrs. Davis is willing to tease out a very of-the-moment challenge, that of how science and faith have become intertwined.

We’re all aware of algorithms (or machine-learning, or AI) governing our lives—they determine which ads we see, which search results we get, which romantic partners we might be paired with on a dating site. It’s entirely possible that an algorithm led you here, to this site, and to this sentence. (hi!) BigTech promises to give us precisely what Mrs. Davis delivers on: exactly what we want and need, the opportunity to be fulfilled, content with the meaningfulness of our existence, and aware of the responsibilities we have to one another and the universe.

That’s what Simone finds in her faith, which is both unwavering and extremely literal. (You’ll see what I mean.) It’s what Wiley and his cohort struggle with: what does it mean to be a manly man in today’s world, which is deconstructing so many ideas of masculinity? It’s what motivates Schrodinger, the scientist, who when he encounters the Holy Grail doesn’t lose his faith in science but rather uses his knowledge of science to consider its consequences and form a meaningful emotional bond with someone other than his cat. (Who is fine, by the way.)

But that doesn’t mean that this show is religious anti-tech propaganda or even a heady meditation on the meaning of existence. It could be those things, if you want it to be, but it’s also grounded in very real human emotions, like grief and resentment and love and annoyance, as well as very real humor, especially when faced with the absurdity of existence, regardless of its meaningfulness (or lack of meaning).

It's delightful to watch, with sparking dialogue, great visuals, campy joy, and a freewheeling spirit that never gets out of control.

Fun Fact: the co-creators used ChatGPT to generate each episode title. That might tell you all you need to know, but if I still haven’t convinced you to have faith in this show, perhaps the trailer will:

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. This review is spoiler-free, but the comments are fair game for spoilers!

  2. Josie, I love this review. You managed to explain an almost inexplicable series, a series I genuinely enjoyed. At the same time, I completely understand why some people either (1) won't try it, or (2) gave up on it.

    I didn't start to truly "get it" until the fifth episode, and that's a long time. (The fifth episode is when we find out about Simone's and Wiley's livers, right?) And I couldn't understand why they cast Margo Martindale until that long, critical scene near the end, and then it all made sense.

    I loved Jesus in the restaurant. And I loved that the horse didn't die. And that Simone's quest ended as it did.

    Like Josie, I recommend this show. But I completely understand if it's not for you.

  3. One more thing! I'm putting Mrs. Davis into our show index, and guess which show it's directly under? Mr. Robot. Made me laugh out loud. It's perfect.

  4. Thank you so much for recommending this show to me, Billie!

  5. Excellent review, as always.

    Looks like I'm gonna have to trade in my HBO Max (or just Max) subscription for Peacock here soon, because this sounds like a real treat.

  6. That also gives you access to Poker Face, which is awesome, and The Resort, which is odd but worth watching.

    I think they also offer sports of some kind. One of the sports that uses balls, I think?

  7. We get Peacock for $2 a month, which includes commercials. We originally got it to see the new Quantum Leap. Haven't tried The Resort yet. I'll put it on my list.


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