Evil: Incel Cliches Result in Missed Opportunities, Weak Writing

I'm a little late when it comes to the CBS supernatural series Evil. It genuinely attempts to tackle the balance of the spiritual and the skeptical within its storytelling. With its second season looming, I decided to start looking back at its first season and one episode, in particular, stood out to me for all the wrong reasons in "Exorcism Part 2". It concluded the arc of a social reject in Sebastian, played by Noah Robbins. We meet the character previously two episodes ago in "Vatican III" when he's rejected socially by the barista at the coffee shop he frequents. Coincidentally, the series' main antagonist Dr. Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson) witnesses the interaction and preys upon the young man's insecurities.

Evil: Incel Clichés Underlie Missed Opportunity, Lazy Writing [OPINION]
Image courtesy of CBS

How Series Handled Incel Culture

Throughout Sebastian's arc, Leland systemically trains him in the world of incel culture. For those who don't know what the term means, it's short for "involuntary celibate", a culture of misogynistic men festering within their toxic masculinity with the mindset that they're owed sex or some form of amorous affection from their female targets. So when it comes to the scenes, we essentially get the cliff notes version of what such behavior tends to lead to. In Sebastian's case, Leland shows him the forums, happens to know a police officer who's willing to train him in firearms, and goes to a female-only gym to show what he's learned doing fake gun gesturing displaying more of his asshole training in such a short time.

Evil: Incel Clichés Underlie Missed Opportunity, Lazy Writing [OPINION]
Image courtesy of CBS

How Evil Missed Putting Context on a National Problem

The checklist of the clichés amounts to Leland wanting to target David (Mike Colter) and the prayer group he leads for women. At the conclusion of "Exorcism Part 2", we find Sebastian arming himself up and ending up where most anti-gun PSA's go…an accidental suicide. Leland mourns the loss of his Frankenstein plan. It felt like the incel arc was just basic filler from the series that couldn't come up with anything for the "devil" to do at the time. Why specifically this show and why this particular arc, because there are tons out there who are like Sebastian out there on the surface, who are much deeper than what the lazy writing presents him as. The series literally punched down insecure nerds and the socially awkward. It's hard enough dealing with the social stigma of anxiety especially if you look a particular way. They could have dragged this out to flesh Sebastian more. Maybe life wasn't always so shitty for the young man. We weren't ever meant to even think or feel for the character's likely depression, because he wasn't supposed to be human.

I'm not asking the showrunners Evil to refocus its priorities, because I get they need to tell stories. If you're going to address something like this, there were better ways to approach it. Just FYI, I never wrote for television before, but would it have been so radical to have David talk to Sebastian about what he was about to do? What about a woman in Sebastian's life that was an actual positive influence coming back into it? Hell, the main character Kristen (Katja Herbers) is a forensic psychologist that could have reached him, *gasp* could have possibly deprogrammed him and what he thought of women creating another middle finger moment to her rival Leland…Nope, we never got any of that.

Evil: Incel Clichés Underlie Missed Opportunity, Lazy Writing [OPINION]
Image courtesy of CBS

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.