Small-Screen Spirituality: Religion in TV, Sitcoms, and more by Ellen Leventry--Flying Nun Highway to Heaven Charmed - Beliefnet
Untitled Document
A Brief History of
Small-Screen Spirituality

The Goldbergs
(CBS, NBC, Syndication)
Considered by some the first American sitcom, this popular show followed the adventures of an immigrant Jewish family assimilating into American life.
The Flying Nun
This sitcom about the misadventures of a flying nun in a Mexican convent earned its wings after three seasons and made Sally Field a superstar.
Bridget Loves Bernie
A New York-based comedy about a wealthy Irish Catholic girl (Meredith Birney) who falls for a Jewish cabbie (David Birney). The show brought protests from both Jewish and Christian groups and was canceled after one season. On a brighter note, the two stars eventually married.
Donny and Marie
This long-running variety show starring the irrepressibly moral Osmonds did more for Mormonism than a legion of missionaries.
Highway to Heaven
Michael Landon directed, starred in, and produced this surprise hit about an angel on probation sent down to earth to help humans through difficult times. The show was canceled before Jonathan could get his wings.
With Sherman Hemsley as Deacon Ernest Frye and Clifton Davis as the Rev. Reuben Gregory, "Amen" became the first religion-based sitcom to hit it big in the church of Nielsen. Fun fact: Clifton Davis is a real-life minister.
Touched by an Angel
A show about angels sent to earth to remind troubled people about God's love became a juggernaut for Jesus, catching critics by surprise and helping to revive the Tiffany network.
Seventh Heaven
This family drama about a minister, his wife, and their seven children is still the Frog network's most consistent performer.
Nothing Sacred
On the heels of Miramax's "Priest" came this short-lived drama starring Kevin Anderson, with frank depictions of the temptations facing those in vocations.
Dharma and Greg
Dharma, a free-spirited yoga teacher, falls for Greg, an open-minded Harvard-educated attorney, and wackiness ensues! Significant for being the first sitcom to celebrate Eastern philosophies.
The Halliwell Sisters are brought together in their childhood home to fill an "ancient witchcraft prophecy" and battle the forces of evil. Leave it to Aaron Spell-ing to bring a positive portrayal of earth-based religions to pop culture.
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