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Idol Chatter

When I wrote about my top 10 favorite Jewish television characters, the response was sharp and the debate robust. So, in these days of TV-strike doldrums, I figured it was time to come up with a list of the top 10 Christian TV characters, though this time I am restricting the list to those who have appeared in the past 5 years or so only. So, here goes:
10) Lane Kim from “Gilmore Girls“: I don’t admit very often to having watched “Gilmore,” but my wife was a fan, and I was known to catch an episode here and there. And Lane was always my favorite, trying so hard as she did to balance her parents’ strict rules and expectations with her own musical dreams and desire to forge her own way in life. It’s debatable whether to put her in a “Christian” list, given that her primary religious act was rebellion against it, but if Lane truly wanted out of it entirely, she could have had it.
9) Marguerite Perrin from ‘”Trading Spouses”: A reality show contestant that came off more as a cartoon, the self-proclaimed warrior for God would be too offensive for this list were she not so over-the-top as to be comedic. Trading families with a New Age bunch, Perrin did her best to convert them to Christianity, but her antics made her a punch-line instead.


8) Coach Taylor and his wife, Tami, from “Friday Night Lights“: A show I’ve caught way too seldom, but a goodie nonetheless.
7) Annie Camden from “7th Heaven”: The good Rev. Camden may have been the religious professional in this crowd, but Annie was the heart and soul of this long-running family drama. In good times and bad, she retained her humanity and her faith.
6) Melinda Doolittle from “American Idol.”: Perhaps my favorite Idol ever, she embodied Christian values, humility above all. Spoft-spoken and the opposite of flashy, her golden voice surpassed all others, she and deserved to go all the way. But can humility really survive, and triumph, in a self-promotion contest like “Idol”? Mindy Doo may be the proof that the two are simply irreconcilable.
5) Pres. Josiah Bartlett from “The West Wing”: A religious, liberal Democrat who quotes Scripture, talks in Latin to God, and attends Mass regularly. Too bad for term limits. You had my vote forever, President Bartlett.
4) Angela from “The Office”: I don’t believe she’s ever explicitly spoke of being a Christian, but she did mention “The Purpose-Driven Life” at one point, and belting out her impassioned, confident karaoke rendition of “Little Drummer Boy” at the Christmas party a couple of years ago left no doubt that to this hard-edged character, Christmas is all about Christ, not parties, gifts, or any other distractions.
3) Harriet from “Studio 60”: Say what you will about this show, its politics, and whether the character of Harriet, the evangelical comedienne modeled on Kristin Chenoweth, was there merely to give creator Aaron Sorkin cover to bash conservatives and Christians. Truth is, Harriet was the most deeply drawn, complex, and interesting new Christian on TV in a long time, allowing neither side to claim her as a mere stereotype or caricature.
2) Kenneth from “30 Rock”: In a year or two, don’t be surprised to see this scene-stealer at the top of the list. His Christmas-season antics, on the show and especially on its series of related AmEx commercials, were brilliant in their tweaking of our society’s Christimas culture wars and a perfect way for this earnest, good-to-the-bone character to assert his faith and teach everyone a lesson about the true meaning of the holiday. And these scenes were hilarious.
1) Ned Flanders from “The Simpsons”: Predictable, I know, but how could Ned not come in first? His faith as perfect as his mustache, his heart as pure as an angel’s, Ned is everyone’s favorite evangelical neighborino.
My least favorite Christian TV character: Sherri Shepherd, whose stint on “The View,” complete with her assertion that the world might be flat, is doing nothing to challenge stereotypes of the close-minded, uncurious Christian who’d be happy to return to medieval times.

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