Christianity on TV

By | June 1, 2011

This is funny, but not what I'm after.

I saw an article today stating that the BBC ran a survey and received results showing it was “anti-Christian” and ageist. I don’t live in the UK, nor do I watch any current BBC shows other than Doctor Who. This article doesn’t give any numbers or specifics, either, so I really can’t confirm or deny the veracity of what it says (though I can’t say I doubt it). However, it did start me thinking: can I think of a single scripted show anywhere on TV that I think accurately portrays Christians? I couldn’t come up with one. I certainly don’t have a lock on every show out there, but it’s interesting to me that I can’t think of any that even come close. The closest I can come up with from the past are 7th Heaven and Touched by an Angel, but I never really watched either of those shows so that’s just based on inference – it’s more likely that they’re just feel-good shows with a saccharine-Christian overtone.

What I’m trying to come up with, though, are characters who represent real Christians struggling with real everyday problems. Not marginalized, caricatured, superficial, weak, clichéd, Bible-quoters, but characters treated with the same respect as other characters as they go through life trying to make decisions based on their beliefs. People who struggle, and sometimes fail, to live their life according to God’s will as revealed in the Bible; who try to deal with others, including (and especially) those they vehemently disagree with, in love even when it hurts them to do it. Part of the key there is “struggle.”

I’m not even looking for a show that centers on such a character, necessarily, but just includes one.

Something closer to the characters in the movie Second Chance, really, which shows the conflict within the church community as vastly different approaches collide. I’ve reviewed this movie before. It’s got arrogance, profanity, selfishness, humility, love, forgiveness, short-sightedness, integrity, and self-sacrifice – and that’s all just one character: the pastor. (Understand that I’m not saying that the film itself is an example of what I’d like to see on TV. As one reviewer said: “It feels more like an exhortation to the Christian Community and I wonder how someone on the outside would be able to follow it.” I’m just pointing out that the characters here are examples of real people and Christians.)

Seems odd that Christianity is supposedly so prevalent in America and the UK, and yet our media really doesn’t seem to reflect that much – and in fact could be said to skew toward its marginalization.

As I said, though, I don’t know every show out there. It’s certainly possible these characters exist and I’ve just missed them. Can anyone think of a well-rounded portrayal of Christianity on scripted TV?

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