So I just watched my first episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Sadly, we deleted the first four due to an inexplicable sense of TV schedule constipation because…wait for it…something had to give.
Now, after watching this episode, I’m really sorry. Studio 60 boasts some of the greatest writing I’ve heard on TV, which I guess we should expect by now from creator Aaron Sorkin. (After all, we have him to thank [or vilify] for The West Wing.) In addition to great writing, Matthew Perry and the stupendous Bradley Whitford make the lines ring in your ears. And for crying out loud, the girl who plays Harriet the Christian does a fantastic job being real.
(Two great quotes in this episode: Questioned about mocking Pat Robertson predicting the weather, she says, “That’s not mocking religion, that’s mocking stupidity.” And when a reporter wonders how she differs from her mother, she replies, “I don’t hope in as many things.”)
And as if all that wasn’t enough, four words: Sting plays a lute. Five more: He sings “Fields of Gold.” Dang.
What does all this have to say about the state of network television. Is it getting friendlier to Christians? Can we expect to see Left Behind on a network soon? I hope not. (But Veggie Tales has made it to Studio 60‘s network, albeit in edited form.) If we can see simulacra of Christians who are trying to make sense of life in our post-cultural-apocalypse landscape, I’ll be happier. It makes me think of the Christian played by Ryan Hurst on the TNT show Wanted. He wasn’t perfect by a long shot, but he was wrestling with how to be like Christ, when the world around him demands a different kind of imitation. Which remains our challenge.