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Idol Chatter

I saw a promo for Monday night’s “Studio 60” episode and couldn’t help wondering: Is this the week that the show–to coin, or at least adapt, a phrase–jumps the cross?

As you probably know, “jumping the shark” has come to refer to that definining moment when a good TV show has gone bad, reached its peak and started downhill, pulled a stunt so absurd that it smacks of out-of-new-ideas desperation–like the Fonz water skiing in leather jacket and jumping over a shark, the archetypal and defining “jumping the shark” moment. To adapt the phrase, I’d like to propose jumping the cross as that defining moment when a TV show trying to cater to the coveted Christian crowd proves beyond a doubt its lack of authenticity, that its religious commitment is only skin deep, drawn up by secular writers without a real clue what it means to write authentic spiritual characters and storylines.

In the case of “Studio 60,” fans were disappointed when Harriet–the Christian character central to the show–voiced unapologetic support for premarital sex. But that was a throw-away line to a reporter and hasn’t been picked up again in the show. This coming week, however, Harriet apparently agrees to, or at least considers doing, a lingerie photo shoot. I have a feeling that, if she goes through with it, or even considers it seriously, Harriet, and “Studio 60” as a whole, will lose whatever credibility it has among religious viewers, and that will be a shame. The cross will have been jumped.

I’m still a fan of the show, and of Harriet, so my money is on the promo being over-sexed, and overselling that storyline. It’s hard to believe that the show’s creators would be that clueless; they’ve carefully crafted Harriet as a hip, fun, intelligent, and imperfect character who is also a passionate Christian and voice of morality and compassion–and I can’t believe they’d throw that away for a cheap lingerie-shoot episode. (It would be great to see her wrestling with temptation, as long as she maintains her essential, core values and isn’t too gleeful about the opportunity she’s considering.) But it is sweeps time, and I am sure others, including some of my fellow Idol Chatterers, would disagree with me on this one.

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