"The Bible" has been an incredibly successful miniseries for the History channel, so it's no wonder viewers took to the internet after noticing that the actor cast in the role of Satan looks quite a bit like President Barack Obama.
Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni plays the role of the fallen angel. A number of Twitter users noticed the similarity between Ouazanni and Obama on Sunday. Among them was Glenn Beck, who first tweeted that the series was "one of the most important shows in decades," then posted a screenshot of Ouazanni and asked if others thought he looked like "That Guy," Beck's preferred term for Obama.
The History channel and executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have responded to news reports picking up on the similarity between the actor and Obama.
"History channel has the highest respect for President Obama," a statement from the History channel read. "The series was produced with an international and diverse cast of respected actors. It's unfortunate that anyone made this false connection. History's 'The Bible' is meant to enlighten people on its rich stories and deep history."
"This is utter nonsense," Burnett said. "The actor who played Satan, Mehdi Ouzaani, is a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor. He has previously played parts in several Biblical epics -- including Satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our President."
"Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love our President, who is a fellow Christian," Downey added. "False statements such as these are just designed as a foolish distraction to try and discredit the beauty of the story of The Bible."
As The Hollywood Reporter notes, "The Bible" comes to viewers from acclaimed reality-TV producer Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey. Burnett has donated to Democratic causes in the past (though he also produces Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" and worked on "Sarah Palin's Alaska." Downey is known as being highly religious and also producers "Little Angels," a Christian show for children.
Joshua Dubois, the former head of the White House faith office said he felt those making much of the similarity were "reaching":
"The Bible" has come under fire for other reasons, as well. A number of Biblical scholars have noticed that the show seems to be "Europeanizing" characters in the story. In particular, it seems as though characters with positive roles are being cast as white, while roles of characters engaging in evil are more likely to be filled by actors with darker skin.
Writing on HuffPost, Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D. had this to say on race in "The Bible":
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey replaced the life-giving red-brown soil of Fertile Crescent with sandy white soil which would not sustain life so they could show God creating a white man in God's image. That man, like the bulk of the cast, is white like them, like their target audience, unlike the Afro-Asiatic Israelites.
When they do cast a black actor it is to reinscribe some of the most base racialized stereotypes in the Americas: the big black man/dingo with a taste for white women.
Gafney is referring to Samson in the last line of the above critique. For more on the Obama look-alike, head over to The Hollywood Reporter.