Joan of Arcadia

Joan of Arcadia Information

On initial release, the show was praised by critics and won the prestigious Humanitas Prize and the People's Choice Award. It became one of the few television shows to be nominated for an Emmy Award in its first season for Outstanding Drama Series. The title alludes to Joan of Arc and the show takes place in fictional Arcadia, Maryland.


In the pilot episode, God appears to Joan and reminds her that she promised to do anything he wanted if he would let her brother survive a car crash that left him a paraplegic. God appears in the form of various people including small children, teenage boys, elderly ladies, transients, or passersby. Joan is asked by God to perform tasks that often appear to be trivial or contrary, but always end up positively improving a larger situation.

One of the more obvious effects of Joan's actions occurs when she is asked to take a reclusive bully to the school dance. While both her mother and the assistant principal object, Joan follows through with God's task. At the dance, it is revealed that the bully has a bottle of alcohol with him, but Joan convinces him not to open it. Despite this, the assistant principal later reaches into his jacket, finds the alcohol and expels him. In his anger, the boy threatens the chief of police (Joan's father) with a handgun, and he is then arrested. Joan later finds out from God that, while this turn of events seems rather bleak, it was the lesser of two evils"?without Joan's actions, he would have shot over a dozen students and teachers with a handgun, before turning the gun on himself. This ending is noticeably more direct than most episodes, since it is the only time God comments so clearly on "what would have happened" rather than primarily allowing events to speak for themselves.

The series starred actors Joe Mantegna and Mary Steenburgen as Joan's parents Will and Helen, Jason Ritter as her paraplegic older brother Kevin, and Michael Welch as her younger brother Luke. The family relationships and plot situations were written more realistically than other shows with spiritual themes. Various storylines that spanned multiple episodes dealt with the consequences of Kevin's accident, Will's job as a police officer, Helen's career as an art teacher, and Luke's aspirations to be a scientist. No specific mention of any "true" religion is ever made, and God quotes Bob Dylan, Emily Dickinson and the Beatles rather than any scripture or verses. Furthermore, God is portrayed with a very human personality. In "Touch Move", he tells Joan that he has to send her "down there", and laughs when she becomes worried he means Hell, when he meant the school basement. Also, in one episode, he hands Joan a book from a store they have just left. When Joan accuses him of stealing, he remarks "Well, technically everything's mine".

Christopher Marquette also stars as Adam Rove, a close friend of Joan's who has an on-and-off romantic relationship with her. Another of Joan's best friends is Grace Polk, played by Becky Wahlstrom.


  • Amber Tamblyn as Joan Girardi " Middle child of the Girardi family. Teenage girl who talks to God
  • Joe Mantegna as Will Girardi " Joan, Kevin and Luke's father. Police chief of Arcadia PD, eventually chooses to return to detective work after he is kidnapped and bust wide open the internal corruption of the town of Arcadia's infrastructure. Mantegna had a development deal with CBS and liked the script so agreed to be part of the show. He was also involved in the casting of the other characters.
  • Mary Steenburgen as Helen Girardi " Joan, Kevin and Luke's mother. Secretary and eventually art teacher at Arcadia High School. She also reveals she had been raped years before she meets Will during college.
  • Jason Ritter as Kevin Girardi " Eldest child in the Girardi family. Became a paraplegic in a car accident while in high school. Works for the local newspaper as a fact checker at first; later pursuing a career in journalism, and going on to become a local news anchor.
  • Michael Welch as Luke Girardi " Youngest Girardi child. Science nerd, straight A student
  • Chris Marquette as Adam Rove (Recurring Season 1; Regular Season 2) " Only child of Elizabeth and Carl Rove. Joan's best friend/boyfriend, Grace's lifelong best friend. One of Helen's art students, talented artist. His mother died three years before. Has a photographic memory.
  • Becky Wahlstrom as Grace Polk (Recurring Season 1; Regular Season 2) " Only child of Sarah and Rabbi Polanski. Adam and Joan's best friend and Luke's eventual girlfriend. A major activist against all authority, has a particular hatred for school principal Gavin Price.

Recurring cast

  • Aaron Himelstein as Friedman " Luke's best friend
  • Mageina Tovah as Glynis Figliola " Luke's friend and one-time girlfriend
  • Sprague Grayden as Judith Montgomery " Joan's friend from the summer psychiatric camp. Her parents are psychologists and she takes advantage of them frequently.
  • Mark Totty as Detective Carlisle " Will Girardi's junk food addicted partner on the Arcadia Police Department.
  • Elaine Hendrix as Ms. Lischak " Chemistry and Physics teacher. Shown to be overly dramatic for physics.
  • Patrick Fabian as Gavin Price " Assistant Principal, Arcadia High School. Very unpopular among students.
  • Annie Potts as Lucy Preston " Lieutenant, Arcadia Police Department
  • April Grace as Detective Toni Williams " Will Girardi's partner on the Arcadia Police Department in Season One.
  • Derek Morgan as Roy Roebuck " Arcadia Police Department
  • Wentworth Miller as Ryan Hunter " a young, charming dot com millionaire who also talks to God, but with his own sinister agenda. Introduced at the end of Season Two in the episode Common Thread it was planned for him to be a recurring character in the third season.
  • David Burke as Fr. Ken Mallory " Helen's friend and pastor of a nearby church.
  • Sydney Tamiia Poitier as Rebecca Askew, a reporter at the newspaper where Kevin works. Dated Kevin.
  • Constance Zimmer as Sister Lilly Watters, a former nun who helps advise Helen Girardi, also Kevin's girlfriend.
  • Haylie Duff as Stevie Marx
  • Erik Palladino as Lt. Michael Daghlian

Guest cast

Incarnations of God

Some of the many incarnations included:

  • Juliette Goglia " Little Girl God
  • Kathryn Joosten " Old Lady God, or occasionally as Mrs. Landingham God
  • Russ Tamblyn (actress Amber Tamblyn's father) " Dog Walker God
  • Kris Lemche " Cute Guy God
  • Jeffrey Licon " Goth Kid God
  • Keaton Tyndall and Kylie Tyndall- Twin Girl God
  • Zachary Quinto " video assignment God
  • Adam Richman (from Man v. Food) " a butcher God
  • John Marshall Jones " commonly referred to as Chess Player God
  • John Kassir " Mime God
  • Robert Clendenin " Linesman God
  • Roark Critchlow " Newscaster God
  • Wendy Worthington " Mailwoman God
  • Phill Lewis " Naval Officer God
  • Candice Azzara " Housewife God
  • David Doty " Businessman God
  • Larry Hankin " Homeless Man God
  • Chris Hogan " Sidewalk Vendor God
  • Oliver Muirhead " Proctor God
  • Alphonso McAuley " DJ God
  • Thomas Kopache " Creepy Guy God
  • Curtis Armstrong -Security Guard God II
  • Lindsay Hollister " Computer/Library Girl God
  • Fred Stoller " Pizza Delivery God
  • Trevor Einhorn " Mascot God
  • Ronnie Warner Street Guitarist " God
  • Anastasia Baranova " Exchange Student God
  • Brian Klugman " Cashier God
  • Louis Mustillo " Garbage Man God
  • George D. Wallace " Old Man Walker God
  • Joel Murray " Balloon Sculptor God
  • Erin Chambers " Majorette God
  • Susan Sullivan " Rich Woman God
  • John Patrick Amedori " Loner Loser Kid God
  • Allyce Beasley " Woman with Cats God
  • Rick Overton " Bad Stand-Up Comedian God
  • Iqbal Theba " East Indian Sunglasses Salesman God
  • Rae Allen " Fortune Teller God
  • Christy Carlson Romano " Officious Hall Monitor God
  • Mike Starr " Big Tough Guy God
  • Sonya Eddy " Female Custodian God
  • Veanne Cox " Personable Woman God
  • Jack Kehler " Electrician God
  • Al Mancini " Grandpa God
  • Rolando Molina " Trash Man God
  • Adam Wylie " Skinny Kid God
  • Mark L. Taylor " Salesman God
  • Shelly Cole " Punk Girl God
  • Jane Morris " Substitute Teacher God
  • James Martin Kelly " Sweeper God
  • Michael N. Chinyamurind " Nigerian Doctor God
  • John Del Regno " Locksmith God
  • Michael Wyle " French Waiter God
  • Cal Gibson " Groundskeeper God
  • Todd Sherry " Gay Male Secretary God
  • Jordan David " Geek God
  • " Three Card Monte Guy God


  • Barbara Hall, Executive Producer
  • Jim Hayman, Executive Producer
  • Stephen Nathan, Executive Producer
  • Hart Hanson, Consulting Producer
  • Peter Schindler, Co-Executive Producer
  • Randy Anderson, Co-Executive Producer

Theme song

The opening credits roll with the song "One of Us" written by Eric Bazilian and performed by Joan Osborne. It was a hit single for Osborne in the United States from her 1995 album Relish:

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home (repeated)
Osborne re-recorded the song (with a noticeably less rough quality) specifically for the show. To fit the lyrics of the song, Joan first meets God as a teenage boy riding to school on the bus with her (although they don't actually speak to each other at the time).


Scenes of Arcadia's skyline and other outdoor scenes were actually the city of Wilmington, Delaware. Arcadia itself is set in Maryland.

Reception and cancellation

Joan of Arcadia debuted on the heels of Touched by an Angel, which had ended its nine-year run in April 2003.

While Joan of Arcadia was one of the highest rated new shows of the 2003"2004 television season, its ratings declined in the second season, in spite of continued critical acclaim. The show was cancelled by CBS on May 18, 2005. Fan campaigns were created in response, in an effort to have the show reinstated. Only two episodes "No Future" and "The Rise and Fall of Joan Girardi" from the second season were repeated by CBS, and remaining reruns were pulled from the schedule. Near the end of the second season, a menacing character was introduced to the series, an amoral "tempter" (aka "The Adversary" with Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" as his musical motif), seemingly destined to cause a significant amount of conflict in the show's characters. The show's cancellation left that premise unexplored. Ghost Whisperer took over the show's Friday time slot in September 2005.

After the show's cancellation, props such as pieces of Adam's artwork and Joan's signature messenger bag and costume pieces belonging to cast members were sold on eBay. Grace's trademark leather jacket was not included as the jacket was brought in by actress Becky Wahlstrom from her own teenage years.

Viewers by season

"During its first season, Joan of Arcadia averaged 10.1 million viewers, respectable numbers for Friday, a quiet night for television. [The following] year, viewership sank to 8 million, according to Nielsen Media Research."

Nielsen ratings

Season Episodes Premiere Season finale Viewers
(in millions)
1 2003"2004 23 September 26, 2003 May 21, 2004 9.9 #54
2 2004"2005 22 September 24, 2004 April 22, 2005 8.0 #70


See List of Joan of Arcadia episodes for more information

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Result
2004 Saturn Award Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television - Amber Tamblyn
Golden Globe Award Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama - Amber Tamblyn
People's Choice Award People's Choice Award for Favorite New Drama Series
Primetime Emmy Award Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series - Amber Tamblyn
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series - Louise Fletcher
Satellite Award Satellite Award for Best Actress - Television Series Drama - Amber Tamblyn
Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress " Series, Miniseries or Television Film - Mary Steenburgen
Teen Choice Awards Teen Choice Award for Choice Breakout TV Show
Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Show - Drama/Action Adventure
Teen Choice Award for Choice Breakout TV Star - Female - Amber Tamblyn
Teen Choice Award for Choice Breakout TV Star - Male - Jason Ritter
2005 Saturn Award Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television - Amber Tamblyn
Primetime Emmy Award Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series - Cloris Leachman
Satellite Award Satellite Award for Best Actress - Television Series Drama - Amber Tamblyn

DVD releases

Season DVD CoverDiscsRelease DateEpisode #Additional Information
1 style="text-align:center;" style="text-align:center;"|6May 10, 200523Deleted Scenes, Audio commentaries by the Filmmakers and Cast
Behind-The-Scenes Featurettes: The Creation of Joan of Arcadia and Joan of Arcadia " A Look at Season One
God Gallery
2 style="text-align:center;"6November 28, 200622Audio Commentaries on selected episodes
A Look at Season 2 featurette
The Making of Queen of the Zombies
A Tour of Joan's High School
Common Thread Table Read
Note: each disc in the season, except the last, contains 4 episodes.

See also

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Joan_of_Arcadia" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



Page generated in 0.29681706428528 seconds