Hulu’s New Series ‘The Path’ Explores The Lure Of Cult Faith
Hulu’s The Path is notable for many reasons. It’s Hulu’s first hour-long scripted original series, Hulu’s first original drama, and it focuses the provocative topic of faith-based groups.
Creator Jessica Goldberg is quick to say the religion in her show, which is centered around a fictional organization, the Meyerist Movement, is not about any existing religion, especially not the one viewers may want to connect it to, the cultish Scientology.
“Many people will make that assumption just when they read the description,” said Goldberg. “But once you watch it you realize it’s not that.
The plot follows the previously mentioned Meyerist Movement. Those who follow the Meyerist Movement practice the teachings of founder and former army psychiatrist, Dr. Stephen Meyer. His followers believe in honesty in order to overcome negativity and reach enlightenment. They go through certain stages of advancement, known as the Ladder, and follow a force known as the Light. If a member questions the movement’s teachings, he or she is labeled a “denier,” and is cut off from the Meyerist community.
The cast includes familiar names: Aaron Paul, Hugh Dancy and Michelle Monaghan. This is Paul’s first TV role since his Emmy-winning part on Breaking Bad. Paul plays Eddie, a doubtful convert, whose uncertainty causes trouble with his wife (Monaghan), as a woman born into the faith. Dancy is the charismatic unofficial leader of the Meyerists in upstate New York.
Goldberg’s inspiration came from her devastation over her father’s death and divorce.
“I had my own faith crisis,” said Goldberg. “I got the rug pulled out from under me.”
Goldberg wrote the pilot during a hiatus from Parenthood where she was a producer and a writer.
“I just found myself like Eddie,” explained Goldberg. “I was this person walking through my life going, ‘None of this is real.’ Writing the pilot proved to be cathartic.”
Paul himself identified with Eddie in some ways, citing his upbringing in a religious household and his Baptist minister father.
“I’m always in a state of wonder,” said Paul, who is also an executive producer on the project. “All I do know is that we’re sitting on a planet that is spinning out of control in the middle of nowhere and I’m constantly looking up in the sky wondering what is all of this. I know I’m never going to know. That’s just what I believe. But a lot of people believe they do have the answer.”
Dancy also found the premise of the show quite inspiring.
“What I’ve realized is that, first of all, something is only a cult in the eye of the beholder. Your cult is my movement,” explained Darcy. He also added, “We all have that thing in us where if the right person at the right time comes along and says, ‘You’re broken and I can heal you,’ you’d respond.”
The actors reportedly were always calling and emailing Goldberg to better understand the faith.
The show’s executive producer is Jason Katims, the producer behind hits like Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, and its first two episodes premiered this week, with the next eight to premiere on a weekly basis.