Idol Chatter

Last night’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” (yes, still on television, briefly, as it finishes airing its remaining original episodes) was so faith-focused, it’s hard to know where to start. The show had largely abandoned its obsession with the culture wars to become more of a romantic drama focusing on Danny and Jordan’s growing love affair and Matt and Harriet’s always roller-coaster relationship. Last night melded the two; call it Love in the Time of Culture Wars.
At the end of last week’s episode, Jordan was off to the hospital because she hadn’t felt her baby kick in several hours, while cast member Tom Jeter learned that his Air Force brother was one of three airmen captured in Iraq–shown on Al-Jazeera with their captors. In last night’s episode, while Danny tends to Jordan in the emergency room, the rest of the show’s characters stay in the studio to support Tom. At the same time the network honchos do what they can to get more information and learn how they can help.
The episode flashed back and forth between the present-day drama and the weeks immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks, when the characters were, like we all were, still reeling from the tragedy, still united behind the president, and still hopeful for a quick and successful war. The contrast between then and now is palpable: mourning and defiant then, terrified and resigned now.
In the midst of all this, somehow, Matt and Harriet still find time to argue about God and faith, but the episode’s most touching moments–aside from Jordan’s and Danny’s fears for the baby and expressions of love for each other–come when Harriet falls to her knees in prayer, her natural response to the tragedies swirling around her, then and now. Matt, of course, chastises her for such supposed silliness, for what he sees as her futile attempts to speak to a deity whom Harriet admits we humans cannot comprehend. But then something extraordinary happens: She asks Matt to pray with her, promises she’ll teach him how to do it–and he’s about to accept the offer. But just then, they get the call that Jordan is heading for an emergency C-section, and they both speed off to the hospital.
Still, as they depart, Matt looks up to the heavens and mouths… a prayer. Tragedy has hit home, one of his own is in danger. There are truly no atheists in foxholes, at least on TV. And no culture wars, either. Suddenly, prayer doesn’t seem so futile.

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