Confessions Of A Christian TV Addict
Thursday, August 8, 2013
Hello. My name is Mindy Mizell. And I am a TV addict. At least, that’s how I feel when I sadly admit I’ve now watched the entire series of Mad Men, House of Cards, and Game of Thrones. Plus, I just started Season 5 of Breaking Bad so I’m nearly caught up on that entire Netflix series too. I know…. decadent and totally disgusting. I told you, I am a TV addict.
To be fair, I really only watch a few hours of television each week and only one series at a time, but it is definitely far more than I’ve ever watched in my lifetime. I mean, I grew up on a TV diet of strictly the national Evening News and maybe an occasional episode of the Cosby Show or Friends. But this year, a seemingly “perfect storm” somehow created the TV monster I’ve since ashamedly become. Job loss, time to kill, etc.
Feel free to judge me. I would. I have! I used to cringe when I’d scroll through all the shows my husband had recorded on our DVR each week. How could he waste so much time watching all that? And, seriously, Project Runway? How in the world does my football-loving husband have time for Top Chef and “make it work”! Given all my previous judgments on others, I think it’s only fair you judge me too on the types of shows I’ve been watching. Again, I would. So go ahead. Please.
Seriously. I mean, what do my selections say about me? Mad Men has become a show where everyone sleeps around. Game Of Thrones is so bloody and violent I had nightmares after the “Red Wedding” episode horrified us all. House of Cards, well...the main character is a man in his 50’s who has an inappropriate relationship with a 20-something. And Breaking Bad is all about a chemistry teacher turned meth maker and drug dealer.
So why am I coming out of the closet and offering this embarrassing admission that I actually watch this stuff and spend hours “wasting” time on TV? Trust me, I’m not telling you this so that I somehow feel less guilty. I can sleep at night just fine. (Unless I watch Breaking Bad before bedtime.) No, I’m actually only admitting all this, because I’ve been wanting to write this blog for some time. Unfortunately, I knew doing so would officially “out” me as to all the TV I’ve been watching so I had to preface this blog with all the judgments I know will be rightfully bestowed upon me. I guess it’s a cost I’m willing to pay, because I so badly wanted to make a point.
Phew. Okay. So now that I’ve got all that out in the open…what –is- it that I want to say so badly?
I’m a little embarrassed to say it now, but here it goes…
I see God in my TV.
Yes, I see God in my TV when I watch any of these shows. I see Him in nearly every episode.
I know, I have some explaining to do. This is likely NOT what you were expecting me to say. But what I mean is…I feel that God is teaching me something new about myself, about humanity and about life every time I watch one of these shows. I didn’t really feel this way when I used to watch the Bachelor every week. In my opinion, it was just mind numbing television that I found enjoyable to turn on as I’d try to get through my weekly load of ironing clothes. But I digress. Bottomline, I see God on TV now when I watch Mad Men, House of Cards, Game of Thrones and yes, even Breaking Bad.
I know, again, probably not what you were expecting this blog to be about considering what kind of Christian would really even be watching these shows anyway? I mean, aren’t they a bad influence? Don’t they have too much violence, and too much sexual content? Yes. They do. And I’m not saying you should watch these shows if you feel convicted about the content being inappropriate. It’s probably the same reason why there aren’t more Christian writers reporting on this topic.
To be clear, I am a Christian who loves Jesus.
Yet, I’m also a huge fan of these shows, and for that, I’ll admit….I’m actually not ashamed. I absolutely love all four of these drama series, and I can’t wait for the next seasons to finally begin! I love the drama, the characters, the stories. LOVE, love, love them. If I didn’t think the content was so controversial, I’d be advocating that everyone instantly watch these incredible shows because they are brilliant. The writing is phenomenal, the casting is outstanding and the cinematography is amazing. Obviously, I still wrestle a bit with the ethics of watching these shows, but I don’t want to digress too much since that’s likely another blog topic for another day. I’ll just say that I consider the debate to be similar to a Christian debating the ethics of drinking alcohol or not. It’s a personal decision that should be made in line with your own convictions and your own relationship between you and God. But again that’s another topic not intended for this blog.
Let’s get back to the whole “I see God in my TV” claim that I threw out there a minute ago. It’s probably not as bizarre as I may have tried to make it sound. I’ve talked to enough people, including Christians, who say the same thing after watching these shows. There are definitely life lessons to be learned in each of the episodes, especially the characters.
So really, the point of this blog is: “What have Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men and House of Cards taught me about God?”
Lesson 1: “Sin” aka "something we do that we know is wrong" has serious consequences
If you’ve watched any of these shows, you know what I’m talking about, because in all of them the main character(s) do things they know they shouldn’t and all of sudden all these crazy things happen in their lives and families. It’s as if the Universe is reacting to their bad choices and trying to right all their wrongs. We saw it with Don Draper in Mad Men when he cheats on his wife (multiple times) and then he becomes this super depressed and lonely character. Despite his charm, wit and good looks, we can’t help but feel sorry for the miserable character he’s become through his bad choices. Then there’s Walt aka "Heisenberg" in Breaking Bad who keeps digging himself into more and more trouble. He tries to cover up for one bad decision and justify his actions and the next thing you know he goes from making a small compromise to killing people! House of Cards....a similar progression. Kevin Spacey’s character is obviously talented, smart and successful, yet he also cheats on his wife, manipulates people and makes bad decisions so we’re not surprised when he also becomes depressed. Of course, Game Of Thrones has the same them but throughout so many different story lines. People manipulate, cheat, murder and it becomes obvious why no one has any true friends.
Lesson 2: All people are flawed and selfish
I guess this should come to no surprise to Christians who are taught in Sunday School that “we’re all sinners.” But usually, Hollywood does a better job of setting us up with a Hero we can cheer for and rightfully so. He or she is usually attractive, witty, and has these characteristics deep down that make us know they are the “good guy”! But none of these shows have a “good guy”….perhaps, a reminder that none of us is really “good” at all. We’re all flawed and selfish people, but it becomes even more obvious or like looking at ourselves in the mirror, when we realize that the person we’re cheering for in these shows isn’t all that “good”…in fact, he’s pretty bad! It reminds me of that verse in Romans, “There is no one who does good, not even one.” Perhaps, it’s easier to stomach that fact about ourselves when we realize that no one around us, even our favorite characters on TV, have it together. I may joke that I’m a TV addict, but there are many personal flaws I won’t ever admit to on a blog….or sometimes even to myself. Yet, I know all my own character flaws stem from a universal problem with humanity….our selfishness.
Lesson 3: A higher standard exists
The age, old battle of Good and Evil exists in every series I watch. I see it time and time again where the characters are struggling to make choices, because there is a right and a wrong. There is good and there is evil. How do we as humans intuitively know Good or Evil when we see it? Why do all of these stories follow that same theme? We don’t need to be told what’s Evil when in Breaking Bad we see the drug dealers killing children. We know it’s wrong. We don’t need to be told when Kevin Spacey cheats on his wife that it’s a bad choice. We know it. We cringe when we see Don Draper getting drunk before noon or the teenage Joffrey order for his fiance’s father’s head to be cut off. We know it’s evil. We know Good too. We see it in Don Draper’s face when he finally tells his young children where he grew up and he admits to his shameful past. We know that Ned Stark is considered “honorable” and didn’t deserve his horrible fate. Good and Evil are obvious to us and are weaved throughout every story line to the point that it makes me wonder.... when we put the TV remote down and turn off the TV, where is Good and Evil in our own world. Is it around us? Is it…..within us?
Yes, I see God in my TV. I see story after story about flawed people, I see story after story about people trying to become better versions of themselves despite the battle of Good and Evil waging within them. I see lessons God likely intends for us to learn while in this "life classroom" (as Oprah puts it).
While I see God ON my TV more and more lately, I’ve been most surprised about something else.
Watching these shows has also made it a little easier to see God when I turn off my TV as well.