Evil: Are Kristen, David, and Ben Based on Real Paranormal Investigators?

In Paramount+’s ‘Evil,’ a psychologist gets an interesting job offer when a priest-to-be asks her to join his team as an assessor. It means that they, including another man named Ben, would be responsible for figuring out whether a certain case has supernatural undertones or if it is entirely scientifically explainable. Thus begins the exciting journey of Kristen Bouchard, David Acosta and Ben Shakir, with all three of them on different spectrums of beliefs. One would think that the clash in their ideologies would create problems in their workspace. Instead, it balances the scales, and the trio works exceptionally well, being entirely respectful of each other’s beliefs. For Robert and Michelle King, the creators of the show, this was the foundation of the story.

Kristen, David, and Ben Represent the Different Sides of Faith and Skepticism

Robert and Michelle King have been happily married for decades and have worked on several projects together, and it has been possible because of their mutual respect for each other’s beliefs. While Robert has described himself as a “devout Catholic,” Michelle calls herself an agnostic Jew who is not so easily swayed by the arguments of religion. She believes that there is a rational explanation for everything, while Robert believes that there can be such a thing as the divine, as well as Satan and his evil minions trying to ruin the humans.

This conflict of ideas has long been a topic of interesting conversations between the couple, which led them to question where one draws a line. When does a believer start doubting, and when does a skeptic find themselves baffled because there is absolutely no sane way to explain something that has happened right in front of them? More importantly, the duo was interested in the question of evil things and what makes a person do them. This debate finds space in ‘Evil,’ with Kristen representing Michelle and David representing Robert.

While horror and mystery become the main attraction of the story, its heart lies in the philosophical debate brought about between the characters by the things they see unfold in front of their eyes. For this to happen, all three characters had to be respectful of each other’s viewpoints, even if they may not align with it themselves. The Kings wanted to make sure that there was a safe channel open for dialogue between the characters, and instead of fighting each other about what may or may not be happening, they would add to the conversation meaningfully.

Going forward with the show, Robert and Michelle realized they needed the same thought process in the writers’ room, so they hired people with all sorts of beliefs whose ideas would expand the discussion rather than them trying to shoot each other down. This approach of putting their foot down for a given ideology would have turned the show into a preachy thing, which isn’t what the Kings wanted at all. With each episode, they wanted to keep the discussion going for the audience, which is why they made it a point to craft each chapter in the story in a way that would give weight to both sides of the discussion. If one could explain it away with scientific explanations, the other could still be free to find reason and strength in their faith.

Giving more weight to Kristen and David’s polar opposite ideologies is Ben. What makes his presence more interesting and important is that he doesn’t even believe in the same god. In the show, Ben is a Muslim turned atheist who believes everything is explainable with the right tools. The actor, Aasif Mandvi, revealed that, unlike completely shrugging off the idea of a greater force, he tries to investigate his beliefs no matter which way they are leaning and is ready to accept things as they are rather than trying to fit them into his own belief system.

Mandvi revealed that the character was initially supposed to be a white male, but it was after he was cast in the role that Robert and Michelle King infused more of Ben’s Muslim background and his own relationship with God into the show. Together, the writers and the actors created characters that would reflect a person’s beliefs, depending on whom they choose to represent their belief system. All this allows the story and the characters to feel more real and relatable to the audience.

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