Exploring religion in mainstream TV shows is becoming more common, in spite of its complexities.
In the past, mainstream television has been very reluctant about airing complex religion-based shows since they have the potential to offend the particular religion or turn off viewers who are of the opposing beliefs. Most channels stuck with the more conventional biblical epics and easily understandable shows, for example Touched by an Angel.
Religion is Becoming a More Popular Subject for TV Shows[/tweetthis]
This has, however, changed in the recent months with the following five shows debuting in 2016:
The Path on Hulu, The Real O’Neal’s, Of Kings and Prophets on ABC, The Passion on Fox and Greenleaf on OWN.
The plot engines of these series is the motivating power of faith for characters over the spectrum of belief, from the deeply skeptical to the blindly devoted.
ABC’s The Real O'Neals is a comedy centered on a deeply religious catholic Irish family of five. It debuted on March 8. The seemingly perfect family ironically battles with many secrets from divorce of the parents to eating disorders and sexual identity among the sons. The series is therefore based on how they deal with the various issues.
OWN’s Greenleaf created and produced by Craig Wright depicts the dark side of the family that runs a super successful Christian mega church in Tennessee. The series premieres on June 21st. The story is centered on the character of Grace, a wandering daughter, Grace, who after years of estrangement from her family returns home for what she intended to be a quick visit to attend a funeral. With the reunion with her charismatic pastor father and the church, her affection for them is rekindled in addition to her confronting their shortcomings.
Of Kings and Prophets which debuted on ABC on March 8 is a series set in the old Biblical days depicting the lives of King Saul and King David. The show initially faced a lot of rejection among different networks with fears that it would offend the Christian community before it was finally accepted by ABC. The show depicts wars, violence, romance, and struggles over faith, particularly in an argument between Prophet Samuel and King Saul after the king is instructed to kill a rival king but he resists.
The Passion which aired in March is a two-hour live special musical retelling of the last days and hours before the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The show was shot live in the streets of New Orleans featuring big names like Tyler Perry, Chris Daughtry Seal, Shane Harper, and Trisha Yearwood among others.
The Path on Hulu revolves around members of a fictitious new age movement called Meyerist. The 10 episode long series seeks to depict why choose and stick to certain beliefs raising thoughts on Judeo-Christian conventions. Initially easily dismissible as weirdo cultists, the Meyerists are shown to be three-dimensional characters with relatable and complicated family dynamics. The main character, Eddie played by Aaron Paul battles with the movement’s beliefs leading to arguments with his religious-devoted wife Sarah played by Michelle Monaghan.
He chooses to stick around for his family. The drama also involves a murder and a subsequent criminal investigation.