Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Studio 60, episode two

"They write conservative Christians as if they've never really met one, . . ."

Another good episode. The Christian character was a little more human and a little less a caricature. A little. More sympathetic, less cardboard. Really an intriguing character, able to be serious about her faith without taking herself too seriously. I liked that. Well written and acted.

The actress (Sarah Paulson) playing the conservative Christian is openly gay. Maybe that insulates the writers from criticism that the character is being too Christian? "Well, yes, her character said that, but we saw her at the GLAAD dinner the other night, so we know she doesn't really mean it."

Rapture magazine was a featured player in last night's episode, a fundamentalist Christian magazine that was trying to get people to boycott the fictional show within a show. One character mentioned that Rapture had four times the circulation of Vanity Fair. The only Christian magazine I know of that has that type of circulation is Christianity Today, which is NOT a fundamentalist magazine.

And not all conservative Christians believe in the rapture, nor do all think that everyone who isn't a conservative Christian is going to hell, automatically or otherwise. Nor do most Christians support boycotts--that's more a publicity thing than anything else, and most Christians know it. Most Christians don't support censorship.

(Nor is attempted censorship a conservative Christian phenomenon. It wasn't Christians who tried to force the producers of Basic Instinct to change the end of the movie, was it? It was gay activists, who didn't want the villain to be gay, I believe. And what of the censorship of political speech--Michelle Malkin, Anne Coulter, etc.--on college campuses?)

One of my friends pointed out how Christians sometimes make themselves targets for caricature. It's true, many Christians are a little bit nuts. And some are more than a little bit nuts, and a few are darn frightening. But I'd bet that you'd find similar proportions of normal people to wackos in most groups--gay, atheist, Muslim, Hindu, surfers, stoners, etc.

My problem with the way the first episode of Studio 60 treated Christianity: they treated it as if the only thing they knew about it was the caricature. They write conservative Christians as if they've never really met one, they've just heard about them and found a few sites on wikipedia and beliefnet.com, and picked and chosen whatever fit their template.

Can you imagine how black people would feel about a show which featured black culture prominently, sometimes negatively, and the writers of the show knew nothing about black culture other than what they'd gathered third hand?

On any given weekend, 40 percent of the people in America are in some kind of house of worship--church, synagogue, cathedral. I guess it's nice to see a well-written, superstar driven show that's trying to acknowledge how religious Americans are.

And of course, Matthew Perry and Brad Whitford are great. I'll keep watching, I guess.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"Great New Show, mini CSI:Miami rant"

Last night, I'd planned to do my normal Monday night dance--flicking back and forth between football and CSI Miami. But I got sidetracked with the new Matthew Perry show, Studio 60, on NBC.

It's a Tommy Schlamme (rhymes with "salami") show (what kind of parents name their son "Tommy Schlammy"? To quote my 16-year-old daughter, "Who does that?), so it's very well written. Brad Whitford is great, and Perry is a very solid actor, very underrated. (I always thought he was the best actor on Friends, back in the mid-1990's when I watched that show.) And Amanda Peet is a revelation--very solid, very real.

Of course, every show has to have an oddball. Here, it's a former girlfriend of Matthew Perry's character who's a born-again Christian. I always cringe when TV shows have born-again characters, they're INEVITABLY charicatures. It's like Hollywood people are never around real Christians, so they don't know how to depict them. "Three eyes, green skin, family from the far side of Mars, and they pray? Like, to God? Sounds realistic to us!"

Anyway. Good show. Check it out.

Besides, the football game was a snorer.

And speaking of CSI: Miami: I'm kind of tired of David Caruso.

Do you remember when it became public that Samuel Jackson had ordered the writers of Shaft to come up with more catch phrases for the script: "It's my duty to protect that booty," etc.?

Well, every line that David Caruso's character speaks . . .

(actually, he doesn't speak lines, he intones them, he orates them. There ain't no normal speaking going on here.)

. . . sounds like a failed Samuel L. Jackson catch phrase. Real people don't talk like that, EVER.