Edited By: Leslyn Kim
Okay, I’m going to go low(humble) here from the very beginning and lay it all bear for the sake of not losing a reader who already hates the title of this blog post. My TV/media watching over the last few weeks has consisted of one episode of Breaking Bad, one episode of Game of Thrones, multiple basketball games, a few historical shows, AND two episodes of the TV series Scandal. Aaaaaaannnnnd, two weeks ago I slid over to a late night showing of American Hustle. See, I’m not perfect 😉 Now, do I have your ear? Or will you at least give me a fair chance to share my own personal thoughts on the wildly popular TV mini-series – Scandal?
My wife and I finally gave in, and decided to see what all the hype was about. Every time the TV show Scandal comes on the social media-sphere it is literally saturated with short, shocking, intriguing comments. Most of them intentionally nebulous,……….”Wow, she did that?!” …. “Huh uh, he’s foul!” … “Straight Scandalous!”. I’m not trying to make fun, but these types of comments are a dime a dozen.
So, to the Netflix app we went. There it was, tons of Scandal episodes ready to stream at our command. We made it approximately three episodes into season one. We both could have watched a few more that night. The story was growing larger than life, even more scandalous as it unfolded. Every episode left you at a cliff-hanger, leaving you to want more. Something was bothering me about it though, and I hadn’t yet confided in my wife about it. I sensed that I may have been more bothered by the show than her. Maybe it’s just me. Or, maybe it’s the Holy Spirit convicting me? Maybe he’s trying to help me search out those deep dark corners of my heart that we often make intentionally hard to read? I decided to sleep on it.
Then, shortly after a conversation with someone I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my faith with, it all became clear for me. Here was someone, a former skeptic/agnostic(?), confiding in me that they have been reading the scriptures and sensing that something was changing in their life. I could write a separate blog on this, but I digress. This person confides in me that they’ve been consumed with another wildly popular TV-series, yet admits without fully parsing it out that they feel convicted(Holy Spirit), because the characters seem evil and lacking in any redemptive qualities. Ouch! It hits me like a ton of bricks. If this person can sense conviction from the milk of the Word what’s my excuse?
I’m not a die-hard fan of the TV shows that I admitted to watching above, and also don’t find many redemptive qualities in them. So far I’ve watched three episodes of Breaking Bad, and have meandered my way through one-and-a-half seasons of Game of Thrones over the last year+. There. With that being said, in my opinion, good or bad, there was something especially questionable about Scandal.
What makes Scandal so scandalous?:
As clever as the writing on the show is, it may be most clever/deceptive I can recall at causing the viewer to celebrate darkness. And I’m not referring to Rahab lying to the the King of Jericho to protect the spies hiding on her roof. I’m explicitly saying that it promotes the adulterous affair of the president, with the shows main character, and leads you to believe it’s justified based on the personal internal/emotional struggle of both characters. The main character’s crisis management firm takes pride in their ability to bail out people in trouble. One of the most clever slight-of-hands occurred on the first or second episode. A man was being falsely accused of murdering his girlfriend. It turns out that he wasn’t guilty of the murder. He had a legitimate alibi that proved he couldn’t have been at the scene during the time of the murder. Yet, he was attempting to hide the alibi to protect his stellar reputation, because the alibi involved sexual immorality. If you took the time to think about it, the show seemed to be attempting to place the viewer between a rock and a hard place. Do we celebrate with an “innocent” man who’s just been exonerated, or do we we reflect on the unfortunate circumstance of his infidelity? The show seemed to hint at celebrating both. Celebrate his exoneration, and his infidelity, which was only a natural progression toward his own much needed self-discovery. Whether the characters are guilty or not guilty only ever appears to be mildly relevant. Its strictly business. The single mode of operation is by-any-means-necessary. If the client has a pesky or aggressive accuser, no problem. Do or say whatever it takes to intimidate the accuser, so that they’ll back off of the client. The intimidation has no barriers. Forget Romans 13, which calls for us to respect those in authority in reverence for God’s sovereignty. Just because you work for the CIA, it doesn’t mean that I have to listen to your orders. Or, just because you’re the President’s Chief of Staff that doesn’t mean that I won’t throw you under the bus to save myself or to protect my client who’s guilty. It’s the worst of collective American Evolutionary pyschology. It’s survival of the fittest on steroids. In that way, it annoyingly lends itself to support much of American, corporate, interpersonal relational behavior. Every man does what is right in his own eyes (Proverbs 3:7, Proverbs 21:2). If that means innocent bystanders get mowed over in the battlefield of life, so be it. No sleep lost here.
In my opinion that separates Scandal from the others I mentioned above. To be honest, Breaking Bad seems to meddle in the same grey area. It’s main character is conflicted. He turns to manufacturing and selling illegal drugs as a means of securing his families financial future as he faces the imminent threat of fatal lung cancer. Although, as far as I observed he seems at least very conflicted in his decisions. Don’t get me wrong, all of them major in a form of moral relativism. None of them are wholesome. Yet, Scandal seems to take it all to a whole different level, by celebrating in the triumph of darkness.
Celebrating darkness as light:
1 Corinthians 5
5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this?
Yes, this epistle was a letter to a church, and yes, it’s “only” a TV show. But, is it really just a TV show or is much of the infidelity featured on the show happening in real life? I see a fine line behind the art of drama and theater, which often portray the complexities of life intertwined with the fallen and sinful nature of man, and the glorification of all the above. Scandal intrepidly blurs the line between good and evil. It’s fraught with greater good theology. A little leaven is tolerated for the greater good.
Writing this was actually convicting me. If I take the Word serious, if I sing songs with young children in kids ministry like – “Oh be careful little eyes what you see”, then why am I so casual about what I expose my eyes to?
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[c] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[d] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
I’ll be transparent here by speaking to myself….. Sometimes I wonder if the temptation to tempt myself is too tempting to overcome the temptation to watch what I know I shouldn’t. LOL. I’m guessing that I’m not the only one 😉
New King James Version (NKJV)
2 I will behave wisely in a perfect way.
Oh, when will You come to me?
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not cling to me.
4 A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will not know wickedness.