All right, I debated about whether to write this post because, in order to do so, I must necessarily admit that I watch "7th Heaven." It's true. I do. Been watching it for years. This family drama on the CW (formerly the WB) is utterly ridiculous and horridly written, which is precisely why I keep watching. There are TV shows that are good, TV shows that are bad, and TV shows that are so bad they're good. "7th Heaven" is so bad it's good. (Incidentally, "The O.C." careened from good to bad to so bad it was good in just a few short seasons, and got canceled just as it started to get so bad it was fun to watch, again. Sad. Opportunity lost.)
Anyway, I know a lot of folks have been talking this week about conservatism's representation on TV in light of "24." A lot of people, in the past, have talked about "7th Heaven" being a conservative-ish show. I've never been quite in agreement. It's nominally pro-family values, and nominally Christian, but the show rarely actually invokes the God the family is ostensibly serving, and often swerves into default liberal territory with touchy-feely preaching about various social ills.
But, this week, the show got downright tough in its political defense of conservatives. Well, as tough as the Camdens get. In this week's episode, two main teenage characters-- T-Bone (really) and Ruthie-- were charged with writing a paper on the genocide in Darfur. The show tracked their research with its signature, grating, overt preaching on doing more for Darfur, but some of the exchanges were pretty hard on the Blame-America-Firsters. Check it out:
T-Bone: “Working at an environmental company as a receptionist and being an expert in world concerns…I need some research on Darfur. Would you happen to have access to anything at that company of yours on Darfur?”
Jane: "I don’t know him."
Other Girl Whose Name I Never Remember: “It’s a palce. It’s part of the Sudan, in Africa.”
T-Bone: "My mistake that I thought you might have any information on the subject at all. Have a nice day.”
Jane: "Wait, I have information. Darfur’s where all those people are right...I gave a bunch of stuff to Ruthie last week, on those people. There’s a lot ot them.”
Other Girl: "Not very good stuff.”
Jane: "What do you mean?"
Other Girl: “They make it look like our president isn’t doing anything.”
T-Bone: “Well, that’s not true. That’s not true at all."
Other: "I know, but the info she gave Ruthie..."
Jane: "It’s an environmental company. Everything we do is based on research."
Other: “I think politics affects your research.”
Jane: "Oh, since when do you have opinions?"
Other: "It’s just. It’s Darfur. And it’s important that everyone understands what’s going on. And, I don’t think your information is accurate. I don’t even think it makes sense. I think somebody just made it up.”
Jane: “Are you calling the people that I work for liars?”
T-Bone: "Maybe they just didn’t do their research. I know how difficult that is. Do they have access to the Internet?"
Jane: "I’m sure my bosses did their research. They can’t just make something up and print it and put it out there for people to read.”
T-Bone: "Oh, but they can. Newspapers do it every day."
Other: "I can get you some research. I have access to the Internet." To Jane: “There aren’t two sides to this story. There’s just the truth. And, the truth is this is genocide and the United States of America is the the first to call it genocide, which is something the United Nations refuses to do. The United States of America has done mor than anyone else in the world to end this genocide.”
Jane: “Genocide? Like Rwanda.”
Other: “It’s like that. It’s just like that. How can you care so much about endangered species and not know that African people are endangered people? They’re being systematically murdered. Not that there’s anything wrong in caring for the environment or animals…but, Jane, these are human beings.”
And, another one for you:
T-Bone: "So, even though you have your own computer and access to the Internet, you get your research from Crazy Jane?"
Ruthie: "I got some research from her company, yes."
T-Bone: "Were you planning to share that with me?"
Ruthie: "Well, I was going to hold onto it to use as a rebuttal to whatever you were writing.”
T-Bone: "I don’t know what I’m writing. I haven’t gotten enough information yet."
Ruthie: "So, by the time you get enough information, there may be no one left in Darfur."
T-Bone: "You’re blaming Darfur on me? I actually suspect that you blame Darfur on our president. Although, you may be surprised to learn that the United States of America has contributed almost $ 2 billion in assistance to improve the situation in refugee camps."
T-Bone: "So, the United States is the single largest international donor to the Sudan. And, we provide 50 percent of the food from the UN world food program to Darfur and 70 percent of the contributions to Sudan, overall. And, we’re contributing $16 million to humanitarian campaigns to prevent rape, treat vicims, and build crisis centers."
T-Bone: "And, going back to the years 2003-2005. In those two years alone, the U.S. contributed $2 billion to refugee camps."
Ruthie: "Hmm. Let’s see. I’m not great with numbers, but I know that whatever we’re doing, it’s not enough."
T-Bone: "Why is it always, ‘What’s the US doing?’ Why isn’t it, ‘What’s the world doing?’"
Ruthie: "You mean, why not just pass the buck? Because people are starving, women are being raped, children are being enslaved and orphaned. Men and women are having their ears and lilps and limbs cut off. Someone has to do something. We’re supposed to be a superpower, so why don’t we use our super powers for good instead of evil."
T-Bone: "We’re doing everything we can possibly do.The very people who criticize us for policing the world are the same people who criticize us for not doing more in Darfur."
T-Bone: "So, why can’t the UN send in more peacekeeping troops? Why can’t the UN even establish a no fly-over zone? Why are we supposed to do it? Why are we even supposed to pressure the UN to do it? Why don’t they just do it?"
So, I transcribe "7th Heaven," so you don't have to watch it. But, I'm thinking maybe more people should watch it, so I'm officially coming out of the "7th Heaven" closet, so to speak. Yes, it's terrible and saccharine and silly, but it's rare that I see the normal, non-liberal, patriotic point of view get that much air time on a TV show. Those political exchanges are actually some of the more balanced and intelligent ones I've seen on TV in a while (perhaps, including the cable news shows).
On a related note, Lorie Byrd looks at "24" and "American Idol" as possible conservative bastions on the tube in her Townhall column. Read up, and then start watching,