Sometimes when I am in a group of people and the conversation about our favorite tv shows comes up I have to be careful. If I am being honest I will say that two of my favorite shows on tv right now are Weeds and Californication. Most of the time that conversation goes well. Sometimes, depending on who I am around, I get some looks.
For those who are unfamiliar, both shows are on Showtime. Weeds is about a suburban family who, after the death of their father, look for ways to start making money. They decide to begin selling marijuana in their suburb of Agrestic. Californication is about a writer who has a problem with sex-addiction, drug addiction and alcoholism. Despite his best intentions and hopes he continues to spiral out of control. Both shows are full of nudity, harsh language and plenty of drug use. So, don’t take this as an endorsement.
What I do want to say about these shows is this: they are great. My friend Alex McManus is fond of saying, “Non-Christians make the best Christian movies.” Meaning, that it is often non-Christians who make movies that feature better truths than Christians. Because lets be real, Christian movies are terrible. It’s movies that aren’t pandering to the Christian crowd that are most true, contain the most honest.
Usually, when I tell Christians that I love these shows they usually look at me and say (without ever seeing the shows), “How can you watch that show? Doesn’t it just glorify (sex, drugs, violence, alcohol)?”
This is usually my first clue that they have never seen either of those shows. Anyone who has seen them know that they do anything but glorify the lifestyle. No matter which character you’re discussing, Celia Hoades, Hank Moody or any of the Botwins their lives are a consistently escalating nightmare based on their decisions and lifestyles. These are not shows encouraging this lifestyle.
But (and here is what I love about them both) they all have these defeating personalities, make these awful decisions, are in a constant spiral downward, however they still fight to hold their families together, still have friends who would do anything for them, still try to make things right for themselves and those around them. That’s legit. That is truth.
Friends and real family are thick and thin and that is what these shows are about. They are about sticking with the people you love, no matter what. About once a season there is something that escalates the shit storm and all the characters are faced with the decision to stay in or get out. Every time, some get out but most stay in—thick or thin. That’s what these shows are about. They are about the three friends who have your back more than anyone else.
That is both a more real message than most Christian movies also in a more enjoyable package.