A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Path is a drama about a shadowy religion that may be a destructive cult. Leaders at a "retreat" use an unnamed psychedelic drug to bring on visions; they refer to it as "medicine" and being "high." An injured child screams at the site of a trailer park devastated by a tornado; a man brutally beats another after he won't apologize to someone he's wronged. A woman attempts to seduce a man by removing her nightgown and standing in front of him with her breasts visible, and she offers to perform oral sex on him. A married couple has sex with moaning and thrusting but no nudity. References to a family member committing suicide by hanging. Many visual references to the fictitious religion feature a logo, jargon, and religious rituals. A religious leader forecasts doom for our planet with fires, flood, starvation, and wars.
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What's the story?
For the followers of Meyerism, a religion founded by a former Army physician Dr. Stephen Meyer, this life is only a preparation for an eternity in a heavenly place they know as the Garden. To get there they must follow THE PATH, laid out by Meyer in his writings. Even now, the Meyerists tell each other, Dr. Meyer is off writing the final tenets of the religion, the final rungs on "the ladder." While he's gone, his son Cal (Hugh Dancy) is in charge of the faithful, leading them through rituals and confrontational meetings from followers wondering just why their leader has been away so long. Chief among the discontented is Eddie Cleary (Aaron Paul), formerly on his way to deep-insider 8-R status, who attended a retreat that left his faith deeply shaken. His wife, Sarah (Michelle Monaghan), who was born into the Meyerist movement and believes deeply in its tenets, thinks he's having an affair. Eddie only wishes it were that simple. As he learns more about the religion he formerly believed in so fervently, he wonders just what he's gotten mixed up in -- and what endgame the Meyerists have in mind.
Is it any good?
This creepy, well-acted drama definitely has a hooky premise, but it's slow-burning and talky -- teens may get bored, though the intricate plot will have charms for some. Chief among them is learning more about the tenets and practices of Meyerism, which show creators insist is not meant to be a twin of Scientology, though it bears many similarities. With many shots of cracked-open doors, long mysterious corridors, Meyerist symbols carved into doors and clocks and books, The Path slowly draws viewers in. Nothing much happens for moments at a time: People sit and talk, they take car rides, they debate. But slowly a picture emerges of a noose tightening, particularly around the neck of Eddie, a good man caught in the grip of something bigger than himself. It's a story line that takes some sophistication to appreciate. Viewers who watch distracted, half-watching and half-playing with their phones, may complain that "nothing happens." Yet others who don't mind letting a drama slowly unspool, particularly those who have an interest in cult-like religions, will be glad to get caught in its spell.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the religion on the show. Is it a cult? What's the difference between a cult and a religion? Are the showrunners attempting to show this faith in a good light? How can you tell?
Meyerism has a lot of jargon connected with it. Followers refer to "the ladder," "light," and a "cave." How is this jargon similar to words used in other faiths you know? Is this similarity intentional?
Music is often used in drama to communicate emotion. Pay attention to the musical cues while you watch The Path -- when does the music direct you to feel uneasy? Scared? Amused? If you watch the scene with the sound turned down, do you experience the same emotions?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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