Shows about angels have done well on television. Highway to Heaven and Touched by an Angel enjoyed long runs. TNT’s new series, Saving Grace follows the ongoing relationship between an angel, Earl (Leon Rippy) and his subject, Grace (Holly Hunter), as well as other characters who may need him.
Nancy Miller Talks Saving Grace
“Earl is a nondenominational [angel],” said series creator Nancy Miller. “He speaks to Grace in the language she grew up in. Grace came from a Catholic family so he speaks in that language that she would understand. As we go on, you’re going to find out that Earl is a last chance angel to a Jewish guy and speaks from that culture to him. Later on you’re going to find out that Earl is a last chance angel to a guy who is Muslim. So he speaks that language to him. As the series goes on, I think Earl is going to surprise people.”
Even those religions that downplay angels still may have a use for them. “Earl is an angel but in the Muslim faith there’s angels and in the Jewish faith there’s angels. Some people say that there are. Now in Buddhists and Hindu from what I’ve learned, there isn’t but I think we kind of put things in a place. I don’t think God does. So that’s where I try to take my mind when it’s about Earl. But Earl is Grace’s angel because there had to be an angel that she could relate to. She’s not going to relate to Roma Downey or Michael Landon, but Earl she can relate to.”
The show also includes a scientist (Laura San Giacomo) but she is not the foil to the religious characters. “Our show is about opposing forces and surprises. You would think that a scientist and a Catholic who believes in God deeply can’t be in the same person. You would think, why would an angel lead a cop back to a condemned killer? What does a condemned killer have to teach this woman? There are a lot of opposing forces in life that we explore and that we’d rather embrace instead of shy away from.”
Saving Grace is set in Oklahoma City, a personal choice for Miller. “I was raised in Oklahoma City and I wanted to put this character smack in the middle of the Bible Belt. A lot of times people call Oklahoma the home of the buckle on the Bible Belt. So it was a combination of my past, what I know, the Oklahoma City bombing plays a big part in Grace’s life. It played a big part in my own life. So for all of those reasons it was just a perfect fit.”