“The Bible” aired its Easter finale on the History Channel on Sunday and brought many of its more than ten million viewers to tears. Entitled “Passion,” the last episode of the surprise ratings winner displayed all the horror of a Roman crucifixion.
Viewers flocked to social media to talk about their reactions to the episode. Many people tweeted that the scenes had moved them to tears and many included photos of their reactions. The Daily Mail quoted twitter user Leah Salas, “Watching The Bible tonight left me in tears. His love amazes me.” Kylie Maya tweeted, “The Bible has left me in tears. I love Jesus so much. He went through a tremendous amount of suffering for our sins.”
‘The Bible’ was the surprise ratings winner of the winter/spring schedule even though it was in the same Sunday night timeslot as ‘American Idol.’ A couple of reasons have been offered to explain its success. Some people suggest that the selection of Pope Francis helped boost interest in the show. The show maintained a high profile throughout its five week run thanks to the use of unknown actors, the innovative approach of its creators Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, and the controversy surrounding the similar appearance between President Obama and the actor who played Satan. Many of the show’s viewers also flocked to twitter during this controversy.
Following the controversy, the History Channel and the creators denied any deliberate implication of a link between the actor and President Obama. Burnett and Downey released the following statement, “This is utter nonsense. The actor who played Satan, Mehdi Ouzzani, is a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor. He has previously played parts in several Bible epics - including Satanic characters, long before Barack Obama was elected as our President.”
The History Channel also released a statement saying, “HISTORY channel has the highest respect for President Obama. The series was produced with an international and diverse cast of respected actors. It’s unfortunate that anyone made this false connection. HISTORY’s ‘The Bible’ is meant to enlighten people on its rich stories and deep history.”
Burnett, who is better known for his work on reality show ‘Survivor’ felt that the show was destined for success while it was being filmed. Before the show’s premiere he told Entertainment Weekly in an interview, “The hand of God was on this. The edit came together perfectly, the actors came together perfectly, it just comes to life.” He mentioned a couple of weird things happening during filming, such as snakes gathering at the foot of the cross, that attracted the attention of the cast and crew.