In the beginning, there was the Word — or rather, many words.
“EVIL really does come from a conversation [executive producer Robert King] and I have been having for 30 years, trying to figure out what the root of evil is, because Robert is devout and religious and I am not,” EP Michelle King tells EW.
Hoping to address these dark times when it feels like there’s a lot of evil in the world, the Good Wife/Fight creators decided to manifest their dinner table chatter into this metaphysical drama that premieres on CBS this Thursday. EVIL chronicles the adventures of priest-in-training David Acosta (Luke Cage‘s Mike Colter), skeptical forensic psychologist Kristen Bouchard (Westworld‘s Katja Herbers), and contractor Ben Shakir (The Daily Show‘s Aasif Mandvi) as they explore whether there’s a logical (read: psychological) or supernatural (read: demonic) explanation for evil. Each week, the trio will investigate supposed possessions, miracles, and other unexplained mysteries.
“The show is both supernatural and scientific at the same time,” says Robert. “What’s great about network TV is that it allows you that brief time between writing it and showing it, which can be as short as a month or month and a half, so you could comment on what’s going on today. Clearly, EVIL is more interesting in that these are concepts that you almost think of as middle ages, medieval, but they are being played out today.”
He continues, “You find it in some of the work of partisan efforts, but you’re also finding it in people who spend a lot of time on social media. You’re finding people that otherwise would discuss their differences face to face, but because they’re online start becoming more aggressive and more explosive. It’s sometimes like there’s a devil in that, even if you think of the devil metaphorically, there’s a devil in these forces. It’s very much about what’s happening in the news, and we’re constantly inspired by what we see.”
For Robert and Michelle, part of the appeal of working on a potentially supernatural show like this is that it gave them an opportunity to spread their wings beyond the lawyerly drama on The Good Fight and show off some of their other skills and interests.
“When people think of you as doing The Good Wife and Good Fight, they typecast you that way. I think as much as we enjoy that, we also enjoy so many other parts of filmmaking and TV, one of them being scaring people. And we also like comedy,” says Robert, comparing the show to The Haunting of Hill House or Fox’s The Exorcism. “There’s a real cleansing power in scares because you always laugh after a scare, and there’s that kind of rollercoaster reaction that’s fun to be taken out of your life and scared for minute.”
That being said, the Kings do note some similarities between EVIL and their previous work. “It’s not deliberate on our part, I will say, but they all seem to have strong women characters who are both very committed to work, as well as family,” says Michelle. Adds Robert, “The other aspect is looking at concepts of good and evil, of why people make the choices that they do. Good Wife is more about the struggle between idealism and pragmatism — how are you good in a world and in a career that doesn’t necessarily reward it? Then, I think EVIL is much more about a woman who wants to protect her innocent children from the destructive parts of the world, but finds that the destructive parts of the world are all around her.”
A concern with technology’s impact on our lives also connects EVIL and The Good Wife/Fight. While the latter were mostly concerned with how the law responds to technological changes, EVIL considers social media’s role in spreading evil in the world. The theme is predominantly explored through Michael Emerson‘s potentially psychopathic character Leland Townsend, who uses technology to connect other psychopaths (or demons) and create chaos.
“He’s like the Heath Ledger character in The Dark Knight,” says Robert. “He’s someone who likes disruption because it’s fun and it’s how he makes himself happier.”
Yet another reason to be scared of the internet.
EVIL premieres Thursday, Sept. 26 at 10 p.m. on CBS.
Want more Fall TV Preview scoop? Get EW’s October issue for FREE on Apple News, or buy a copy now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.