• ABC Promises “Violent, Sex-Drenched” Bible Series

    by  • January 11, 2016 • Broadcast Decency, Sex, Violence • 7 Comments

    Once again, the Disney-owned broadcast network is pushing the envelope in offending viewers of faith.

    In recent years, the Bible has become big business. The success of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s History Channel mini-series The Bible and their big-screen movie Son of God has sparked a renewed interest in Hollywood in producing material aimed at the “Christian demographic.”

    Of course, film and television dramatizations of Bible stories are nothing new. As far back as the 1920s, big-screen adaptations of the Bible was popular subjects for film; while in the 1950s, Biblical epics were as popular a film genre as comic-book superheroes are today.

    But despite the fact that the entire reason studios are now making Bible-based programming is supposedly to appeal to Christians, most so-called “Biblical” movies and TV shows are utterly tone-deaf and grossly offensiveto that group. Christians hold the Bible as sacred, and do not appreciate seeing it degraded to just another sex-and-gore-slathered soap opera. Yet, from Darren Aronofsky’s 2014 film Noah (replete with a murderous Noah and stone Transformers), to CBS’ current “comedy” Angel from Hell and Fox’s upcoming glorification of the Devil, Lucifer, current media creators seemingly have no concept of how to treat Biblical material respectfully and with integrity.

    Case in point: ABC’s upcoming mini-series Of Kings and Prophets. Based on the Old Testament books of 1 and 2 Samuel, the mini-series will tell the stories of the birth of the prophet Samuel, the rise of King Saul, and the calling of David, his fight with Goliath, replacement of Saul as king, and adultery with Bathsheba.  As The Hollywood Reporter announced recently, the program “reveals the kinds graphic sex scenes typically unwelcome on broadcast television.” Boasted the mini-series’ showrunner Chris Brancato, “These stories are violent and sex-drenched. We’re going to go as far as we can…we’ll be fighting with broadcast standards and practices.” Some of the content will be so explicit, Brancato said, that it may not even air on television, but will only be available online, where there are fewer restrictions.

    Amazingly, while creating a so-called “Biblical” story reveling in sex and gore, Brancato also claimed the show would be “tasteful,” and that none of the sex or violence displayed is gratuitous. This is difficult to reconcile with his gleeful statements about “fighting with standards and practices,” or his joy at discussing the “violent, sex-drenched” nature of the mini-series.

    Like many another “Biblical” program of recent times, the point of the Bible’s stories is almost comically missed by Of Kings and Prophets’ producers and writers, the ABC network, and most of Hollywood – the fact that they serve as lessons in morality. These stories teach that sinful behavior has negative effects on individuals and society, and that God continues to walk with, care for, and love the Jewish people (in the Old Testament) and all people (in the New Testament). Those are the reasons such stories are still studied by Christians – indeed, the whole reason they’re included in the Christian Bible at all…not because they’re filled with salacious sex stories and graphic gore.

    Yes, some Bible stories contain references to war and adultery; and certainly, some individuals in Biblical history exhibited bad personal behavior, just as some of America’s founding fathers did.  But just as a story about Thomas Jefferson which focused solely on his sexual affairs and ownership of slaves, but ignored his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and role in the American Revolution, would be hopelessly unbalanced, grossly unfair, and miss the entire point of mentioning him, so too is a recounting of Biblical stories that focuses exclusively on its scandalous aspects. At that point, the tale ceases to be either Biblical morality or history, and becomes just a violent, prurient soap opera with a historical or fantasy setting, little more than Game of Thrones using Bible characters’ names. 

    It is especially tragic that such tripe is coming from ABC. The Disney-owned ABC network has been lauded for its sensitivity when creating dramas and comedies about other groups, such as African-Americans in Black-ish and Asians in Fresh Off the Boat. These programs, while occasionally dealing in mild stereotypes for humorous purposes, are rarely if ever openly offensive. But it is striking how insensitive the network – and offensive the program – is when it comes to dealing with Christian belief.   

    Indeeed, ABC has never been particularly sensitive to religious viewers. Witness the network’s 2006 TV movie The Ten Commandments, in which Moses was presented as a bloodthirsty lunatic who only imagines he hears God’s voice, or the network’s 2012 prime-time series Good Christian Bitches, which portrayed Bible-belt Christians as alcoholic, money-grubbing, sex-crazed hypocrites. It is unsurprising that ABC is continuing this trend with Of Kings and Prophets; but it is sad that Disney – which gains so much revenue from Christian audiences seeking family-friendly entertainment – is apparently okay with producing and promoting yet another TV series which deliberately offends viewers of faith.

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    About

    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    7 Responses to ABC Promises “Violent, Sex-Drenched” Bible Series

    1. G-Mom
      January 22, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Disappointed that ABC & Disney, which used 2 stand & stand-up 4 Family
      has FALLEN! Yes, I can watch other Channels, but why B forced to do that! DISAPPOINTED!

    2. Barbara
      January 22, 2016 at 7:12 pm

      As I see it, Disney is a fallen angel. What ever happened to the innocent, entertaining, family-oriented Disney productions of the early days?.

    3. Justin
      January 23, 2016 at 9:16 am

      So they’re trying to be like Game of Thrones to “pull that audience.” Ugh.

    4. Carol
      January 23, 2016 at 11:37 am

      This explains why I find all the newest offerings on ABC don’t interest me, and have so little entertainment value. I don’t have to boycott them…I just have no interest in going there!

    5. Patty
      January 23, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      It is so hard to find a decent show to watch anymore. We like to watch reruns of the older shows such as Laramie, etc., which usually are pretty wholesome. Our poor children and grandchildren have very few decent programs to watch. Everyone is portrayed as sleeping together before marriage, they constantly are cussing, woman are always in their underwear…It’s totally embarrassing. Even the advertising is disgusting. We are getting tired of changing the channels all the time.

    6. Robert Graham
      January 25, 2016 at 7:29 am

      With all that’s going on in todays world. sex, gore, dirty talk from Angel from Hell, and the devil named Lucifer should not be on TV where their are children to watch this stuff. do you have children, and would you let them watch the crap your airing on TV? I am going to assume you would. clean it up for your own moral sake. God guild you.

    7. Cathy Willey
      January 26, 2016 at 7:52 am

      We should learn who is sponsoring this show and let them know that we and our friends will be boycotting their products. I have been a part of a letter writing campaign in the past, and it made a difference!

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