Maybe it hasn't occurred to any of those who complain about the lack of complex portrayals of people of faith on TV that every time TV tries to offer some kind of multilayered approach — like, for example, Nothing Sacred
or The Book of Daniel
— those shows are loudly condemned by extremist religious groups before they even air. I doubt this encourages the networks to spend time and money developing such shows.Answer:
Good point, and too true. And they wonder why TV so often depicts religious characters as mad zealots.
Jill made a similar point: "I was interested by the letter you received recently decrying the lack of churchgoing people on American TV. I recently rented The Book of Daniel, and I was struck by how positive this series was toward religion. I understand that the gay son would be too much for many people to accept (not me, but other people). However, this show depicted a family whose faith was very strong. The parents had a solid and realistic marriage, and they supported their children. So many people took issue with all of the dysfunction in this family, and indeed, everyone had "demons" to wrestle with (no pun intended). But don't you think that would make religious people feel better? We all have problems, and we all do things we regret and feel ashamed about, but Jesus in this show was always loving and forgiving (and not in a sappy way, either). Do you think this show would have been more successful if the parents (Daniel and Judith) had not been accepting of Peter, their gay son? Maybe if the show had depicted their journey from prejudice to acceptance, rather than starting out at acceptance, it would have been more 'palatable.'"
I appreciate these comments, because I've always looked on The Book of Daniel
as a lost opportunity. It pushed a lot of buttons, and that's how it was designed. And if memory serves, wasn't Peter's sexuality being kept a secret from Daniel's father, among other family members? The show was a risk from the start, but I agree that its overall depiction of religion and of the Jesus character's benign affection for these screwed-up souls was very affirmative. The show never was going to be to everyone's taste, but the way this culture tends to condemn first and watch later (if ever) is obviously frustrating to those who would like at least to try to create something different.