God love him, Stephen Collins doesn't care that, although 7th Heaven is currently the WB's most-watched show, you're about as likely to hear foul language in church as you are to catch co-workers conversing about the hit show around the office watercooler. "What I love about our show is that we're sort of a guilty pleasure," admits the actor, who plays holier-than-thou Rev. Eric Camden. "A lot of teenage girls will say, '... never miss your show,' but they don't want their friends to know that, because it's not cool.
"I've always said," he adds, "we're so uncool that we're cool."
The small-screen mainstay (A Woman Named Jackie, A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story) concedes that Heaven depicts an idealized vision of post-millennial suburban life. But, so long as the program keeps off-camera clans gathering around the tube — his own included — he will register no complaints. "My kids and I talk about things after the show that I can't get them to talk about otherwise," he confesses. "For an hour, we're a family, all enjoying the same entertainment."
Besides, the leading man feels that Heaven is more realistic than much of the edgier fare that is available to youngsters, at least in one way: Characters over the age of 21 exist. "Count the adults on MTV," he challenges. "You can watch all day, and you probably won't need more than one hand.
"MTV presents a world where adults are somewhere else," he continues. "Wherever [the kids] are, [the grownups are] not there, because [the execs] know that, to a great extent, that's what teens want."Heaven help us.