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Movie Mom

‘Revelation’ — a new Showtime Series

posted by Nell Minow

Entertainment Weekly reports that Showtime has a new series about a minister and his family called “Revelation.”
Margaret Lyons wrote:

I’d be pumped for anything from David Janollari and Craig Wright — their mutual previous credit is Six Feet Under, so I trust them to create a thoughtful, unique family drama. But I’m particularly excited to see some religiosity play out on TV because I think it’s underexplored — most religious people aren’t 7th Heaven’s Camden family, you know? I remember seeing the pilot for Friday Night Lights and being so struck by scene where the Panthers say a prayer with the pee wee kids. I can’t remember seeing other characters pray on TV before, and it obviously stuck with me.


(watch 3:15)
While shows like “Seventh Heaven” and “Big Love” focus on families whose religious faith is central to their lives, I’m with Lyons — very interested to see a thoughtful portrayal of a family with sincere religious conviction who struggle with the application of those views to their life decisions.

  • Marcy Murninghan

    Great points, Nell! Actually, though, religious themes run throughout many plotlines of quality TV drama. David E. Kelley, for instance, often braided belief traditions and values into his scripts, from Picket Fences to Ally McBeal to Boston Common and Boston Legal. In fact, religion, he told me in an interview years ago (for a Harvard Divinity School project on the spiritual values of CEOs in Hollywood, Wall Street, and journalism)is a character in his dramas. Similarly, Dick Wolfe’s L&O franchise trades in ethical dilemmas, with no easy answers; while not overtly religious from a faith tradition perspective. Stephen Bochco and Norman Lear dealt similarly with spirit-related questions–and crises. Both made attempts to address religion more overtly, but their efforts weren’t commercially successful.
    More recently, Tom Fontana, who, I believe, once studied for the priesthood, weaves questions of faith and values into his current show, The Philanthropist, which is somewhat controversial in the field of organized philanthropy because, they say, it fails to accurately portray what foundations do. I disagree: I think Fontana is superb, and dramatizes the Golden Rule in a way that entertains as well as inspires–plus, there’s a good dollop of corporate governance thrown in, for good measure!

  • Marcy Murninghan

    PS: Other dramas come to mind: Rescue Me, Amazing Grace, The Wire…

  • Marcy Murninghan

    PPS: Correction to previous post: It’s “Saving Grace”, not “Amazing Grace” (easy error!). Also, in the multiple Emmy-nominated Mad Men, Vatican II serves as one of the many cultural backdrops (along with the civil rights movement, the emerging women’s movement, issues pertaining to gay rights, America’s role in the world as Vietnam loomed), and so on. One of the main characters, Peggy Olson (played by the Emmy-nominated Elizabeth Moss) confronts what Catholicism means to her, as well as being a professional woman with aspirations beyond the secretarial pool. Both blend together in unforgettable drama that hits close to home for many who lived through that era.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, Marcy — I agree that the media does a great job of portraying ethical dilemmas. After all, that is the source of much conflict and drama and comedy both require conflict. But there are very few portrayals of people with sincere faith who rely on religious principles and institutions for guidance.
    Did you know that the old Hays Code (the one that Hollywood operated under until the advent of the MPAA rating system) not only limited the portrayal of language and sex but required that the bad be punished (the ending of the Bette Davis movie “The Letter” had to be changed) and prohibited the portrayal of clergy as corrupt or foolish?

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