Crazy Christians – My Take on Studio 60

Since the pilot, the television in our house has been tuned to NBC on Monday nights for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It’s a beautfiul portrayal of the pressures that surround entertainment in this day and age. At the same time that special interest groups are fighting for their right to free speech, other groups are fighting to silence that which sheds negative light on their particular message.

NBS, the fictional network that airs the fictional SNL clone, Studio 60, heavily controls what sketches make it to air. If small-market Terra Haute is threatening to not air the show, NBS balks. That was then. In the pilot, the current producer freaks mid-show (it airs live, as does SNL) and walks on camera to slam the censorship that is a result of ridiculous political correctness for the sake of art. This, my friend, is real life.

The show continues and we find that the newly hired president of NBS actually stands up for art, by refusing to continue the micro-managing, hiring back the ex-writer and producer that were on the show in its hey-day, and brute-forcing her way through protests, small markets refusing to air the show, etc. All of this leads to newfound success on the fictional network and show.

So, what’s the point? Several articles and conversations have recommended a boycott because of the token sketch causing the ruckus at the fictional Studio 60, titled “Crazy Christians”. Though it airs, we never get to see the sketch, so we have nothing to go by but the fictional show’s frenzy. Also at the forefront of the criticism of the show is how the female lead is portrayed as a hardline Christian and somewhat “nutty”. Because the show paints Christians in a negative light, and makes fun of this seemingly “nutty” group of people, we, as Christians, should not watch the show, regardless of its entertainment value.

Some people fail to see the humor in this real world fight against Studio 60. The show ignores the protests and boycotts of Bible-belt markets and airs the sketch anyway. They poke fun at the protests. Yet, here is the same group of people, in real life, boycotting a show that is poking fun at the group boycotting the subject of the show. Seems kind of counterproductive, no?

Besides the fact that I enjoy the entertainment value and humor of the show, I see something that we as Christians can take away from it. Lose the bubble mentality. Look at the show from the perspective of the “other side.” They’re writing the material into the show because that’s how they see us. Why give them more ammunition by taking the defensive and boycotting the show that is making fun of us boycotting?

Rather than fight against the show, use it as research. Find out what they’re really trying to say. Is it simply humor for humor’s sake? Satire? Probably, but let’s assume for a moment these people really do hate Christians and are using Studio 60 as their platform. Find out why, and embrace it. What a concept, huh?

We as Christians too often take the defensive approach. Sure, there is reverse discrimination happening all over the place these days for the sake of political correctness. By taking the defensive approach, we build this little bubble around us and prolong the idea that “Christians are crazy.” When people think of Christians, they think of protests, annoying “ram-it-down-your-throat” evangelism, boycotts, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Joel Osteen. Why prolong the insanity? We don’t want to listen to what they have to say about us, but we’ll talk all day and night about what’s wrong with them. People, believe me, we have our flaws too.

Remember, Studio 60 is an entertainment program. You may not think it’s entertaining, but don’t make it your platform for saying “Christians aren’t crazy.” We may not be crazy, but the rest of the world sure thinks we are. By doing exactly what they say we do by being crazy, we don’t help our cause any. It’s time we actually do something to change the world’s opinion of us and speak their language.

We don’t have to change the message, but we definitely have to change they way we present it.

5 replies on “Crazy Christians – My Take on Studio 60”

these are interesting thoughts on the way in which Christians interact with a non-believing world and the culture which arises from that non-believing world. i may be the only person not watching Studio 60, but it’s not because of this issue. i just prefer other programs. i can appreciate the frustration of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who get upset with the ways in which they are portrayed on TV. i also think you make valid, salient points about our responses to those portrayals. i think it is also worth noting, however, that Aaron Sorkin, as well as the writers of other NBC shows, seem to really enjoy numerous negative portrayals of Christianity. The West Wing and the many shows in the Law & Order lineup are worth mention in this regard.

Christianity seems to be the culturally acceptable “whipping boy” among writers in Hollywood. yes, you make good points as to why _ namely, that those in Hollywood probably only ever experience those sorts of Christians. But it still hurts to be portrayed in such a way and to know that Christians are the butt of every religious joke on TV.

i concur with you that we believers need to take the power out of those portrayals by changing our behavior, yet we also need to find a prophetic voice with which we can dissent from our culture in such a way as to have real power.

@James: I’m glad you pointed out that you “just prefer other programs.” That’s exactly why you should not watch a program. If you don’t like Howard Stern, Studio 60 or Barney, you have the right to change the channel and protect your children from it.

I left all of the background of Sorkin and Hollywood at large out of my argument to make the point that we need to find a better way to react to persecution. It has existed for thousands of years and we’re no better at managing it today than we were then.

Why react and build more walls when our true calling is to “Go Make Disciples”? We’re not going to do that by shutting our doors.

hmm..I think it’s an extremely fine line we have to walk. I know many christians who have fallen down the wrong path in the name of “becoming more relevant”. I think the easy answer is to follow the call of God to conform to the image of Christ and to become “set apart” from the world, “in it, but not of it”. Being set apart from the “culture” is what, in my experience, makes Christianity so attractive. I think, as a worst case scenario, some churches even put culture above Christ by changing the basics of our faith to be more relevant. We are to receive persecution with joy, and I would imagine the more ferverent the church the more harsh the persecution would be.

Stephen, you’re exactly right. It is a very fine line. In “Radical Reformission” by Mark Driscoll, he uses a triangle of three key points: Gospel, Culture and Church. It’s absolutely critical for ALL THREE of these to exist. Otherwise, you’re at risk of being a fundamentalist, or too liberal, etc. In the context of Studio 60, culture is an oft forgotten point.

I stumbled across your blog while I was perusing the google search results for “Studio 60 hates christians”. I’m a christian and wanted to see why so many christians were so torn up about this show (you’d be surprised all the articles I’ve found). I personally love the show and think the writing is flawless. I believe your post is spot on. To me, Studio 60 points out how the world looks at us inside of our little bubble passing out boycotts to everything that hints at something countering what “we” hold dear.

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