NEW YORK (CNS) — Much of the action of the animated Fox comedy series "Bless the Harts," set in fictional Greenpoint, North Carolina, takes place in a restaurant called The Last Supper.

A copy of the iconic mural of that event painted by Leonardo da Vinci adorns the establishment — and from it Jesus emerges on a regular basis to give the show's main character advice.

Emily Spivey, the program's creator and one of its scriptwriters, thus sets herself and her collaborators an interesting challenge. Can they remain on the right side of the line dividing respectful humor from flippancy toward the sacred?

Having debuted last September, the series is now airing in reruns Sundays 8:30-9 p.m. EDT in anticipation of its second season premiere in the fall. Viewers also can watch all 10 episodes of the first season on

Kristen Wiig voices the beneficiary of Jesus' counsel, cash-strapped waitress Jenny Hart. Wiig's signal presence — she also serves as an executive producer — is just one indication of the show's tight connection with NBC's landmark series "Saturday Night Live."

Wiig's former "SNL" castmate Maya Rudolph provides the voice of Jenny's mother, Betty. And Spivey, who also voices The Last Supper's proprietor, Louise, was a "Saturday Night Live" writer for nine years, beginning in 2001.

Additionally, High Point, North Carolina, native Spivey acknowledges the influence on her show of "King of the Hill," Mike Judge and Greg Daniels' animated series about a blue-collar Texas family that ran on Fox for 13 seasons.

In "Bless the Harts," Jenny's boyfriend Wayne Edwards (voice of Ike Barinholtz) and teen daughter Violet (voice of Jillian Bell), an aspiring comic book illustrator, round out the central household. Based on the series' first four episodes, though, it's primarily within the confines of The Last Supper that two things sacred to Southerners — food and faith — intersect.

At Louise's insistence, Jenny wears an apron that says, "I Survived the Feeding of the Multitudes Buffet Special." Unlike Chick-fil-A, however, Louise says of The Last Supper, "We're open on Sundays because that's just leaving money on the table."

It's Jenny's inability to escape massive debt that prompts her to turn to Jesus. In keeping with a well-worn sitcom trope, she's the only person who can interact with him in this way.

As voiced by Pakistani-American actor and comic Kumail Nanjiani ("The Big Sick"), Jenny's Jesus comes across as a down-to-earth guy who's been around for millennia and will give it to her straight. In a September 2019 interview with "TheWrap," Spivey said she consulted with her sister, a Methodist minister, who advised her to portray Jesus as though he were her BFF.

To Spivey, according to the same interview, the duo's conversations are "a visual representation of prayer, in a way," and that seems fairly accurate. Yet, as most believers understand, sometimes the divine answer is no.

Thus, when Jenny's water is shut off because she can't pay the bill, she wonders if Jesus can change the wine she drinks into H2O. He replies, "I can't do it the other way around — and this is a rose vodka."

Most viewers aren't, of course, accustomed to seeing Jesus portrayed in this way. However, even if the series may appear to downplay Jesus' divinity, it does, nonetheless, invite its audience to confront some fundamental, yet difficult, spiritual truths.

When Jenny laments her inability to get ahead financially, for example, Jesus reminds her that "suffering and struggle are part of the whole deal." The moment is a clear indication of the seriousness with which Spivey and her colleagues are willing to approach Christian belief.

By contrast, comic gambits in which Jesus employs such colloquialisms as "what's wrong, shug?" and dresses up as a Harry Potter character for Halloween register as precious. Along with some off-color language and references to sexuality, moreover, "Bless the Harts" occasionally lapses into outright bad taste, as with a joke about "slutty nuns."

Still, overall, while the series isn't exactly reverential in its portrayal of the Lord, it is at least sincere and respectful. Too crass at times, very funny at others, it's a refreshingly positive, if unusual, take on the figure of Jesus to which viewers of faith can give at least qualified support.