|Dominic Cooper stars in Preacher, on AMC. (Photo: Lewis Jacobs)|
The rise of nerd culture to a dominant position over the last decade or so has been enough to give one an inkling of what it must have been like to watch the final triumph of early Christianity over pagan Rome. A small movement with a keen sense of its own oppression has ascended to dominance, turning its beliefs and enthusiasms, once considered odd and marginal, into the norm. Whereas expressing an interest in things like comic books and science fiction would once have been an invitation for ridicule and even bullying, such things are now firmly in the mainstream. Indeed, nerd culture has managed to become so dominant that some of its fans have begun to act in the same manner as their former oppressors. For instance, film critics (especially female ones) who dare to criticize an entry in the endless parade of superhero movies often find themselves facing vicious criticism, even personal threats.
A more benign manifestation of nerd-dom’s newfound power appears in the recent wave of television adaptations of fantasy, sci-fi, and comic-book franchises, including hits such as Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. AMC’s new drama Preacher, which is based on a comic series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, aims to tap into the audience for those shows. It even comes complete with an aftershow, Talking Preacher, that’s dedicated to discussing the latest episode and is hosted by Chris Hardwick, whom one can always count upon to be uncritically enthusiastic about anything nerd-related. I mention all of this because, since I saw the pilot, I’ve been trying to account for the mostly positive critical response to a show that’s alternately too glib and self-important, too frantic and slow-moving, in its first episode.