Friday, January 23, 2015

Bless Me Father, for I'm a Catholic on a TV Show

I have mentioned that I have watched quite a bit of Netflix streaming during this blah part of my current pregnancy. I didn't set out to find Catholic characters on TV shows or anything. My very scientific method of selecting series to watch is to just click on shows that Netflix suggests and hope for the best, mostly. But there they were, three shows in a row with Catholic main characters and recurring Catholic themes. After exactly none that I can remember in anything I've watched before that (not the major focus, anyway).


On the one hand, it's nice to see familiar and comforting sights like Catholic Churches and confessionals on television. It's nice to feel represented, somehow, in our popular culture. But on the other hand . . . boy, howdy, do they ever get us mostly wrong. They get us mostly wrong in quite various and varied -- although not necessarily UNENJOYABLE -- ways. Let's take a look, shall we?

1. Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

This mystery series set in 1920s Melbourne looked like a good fit for someone on (as Haley and Christy would say) "TV shows about dresses" withdrawal. Which I was, after Gran Hotel ended so abruptly on Netflix with no English translation of the final season in sight. <shaking fist>

Overall, I really, really enjoyed the first two seasons. Phryne Fisher is smart and cheeky and charming and generally awesome, if rather lax in the, um, personal moral compass department. But her dalliances are kept almost entirely off-screen, and the acting, writing, and dresses are, for me, all top notch. Detective Inspector Jack Robinson reminds me an awful lot of the fella I married, so I like him too.

And then, there's Dot, Miss Fisher's lady's companion, who is a devout, practicing Catholic. She's a really likeable character, but she's definitely portrayed as naive and silly compared to the sophisticated, worldly Miss Fisher.

The fact that the main character gets it wrong on issues like abortion and chastity (and communism!) doesn't really bother me that much. She's completely uncatechized, but she means well. But the fact that Dot is scared to answer the phone because her priest told her that the electricity in phone lines might cause an explosion . . . um, what?

Dot's love interest in the show is a Protestant constable, which causes some tension. In the first two seasons we never really see Dot abandon her values, she's just not particularly respected for them. Which is too bad.

Still, I'd watch season 3.

2. Murdoch Mysteries


When I ran out of Miss Fisher episodes (there aren't many), I decided to give Murdoch Mysteries a try. It's another detective show, set at the turn of the twentieth century in Toronto. And, hey, ANOTHER Catholic character, the MAIN main character this time. It seemed very promising, but I found it to be mostly a disappointment.

The dresses are pretty good, but why in the name of all that is holy is Detective Murdoch wearing guyliner? WHY?

It seems like he's supposed to be this genius detective a la Sherlock Holmes, and I think he's meant to be socially awkward, in the tradition of geniuses. But, he's not. He's just this conventionally handsome guy solving mysteries by using modern technology that he conveniently invents. In guyliner.

And then there's the Catholic thing. We are told he's a devout, daily Mass-going, frequently confessing Catholic, and that, in a Protestant town, his career is suffering because of his stubborn insistence on being Catholic. That's great, right?

But he keeps getting it really, really wrong.

I only watched maybe five episodes, but in two of them, he violates major tenants of his faith. In one episode, he believes that a medium has given him a message from his dead fiancee. I kept waiting for him to have been faking it, and cleverly expose her as a fraud, buuuuut, he didn't. He just rode off on his bicycle, happily having violated the first commandment. In another, a murder investigation takes him into the secret gay underworld of 1900s Toronto. He's full of doubt about his beliefs on the subject, and the episode finishes with him appearing to conclude that all it will take to change the Catholic Church's position on same sex behavior is enough time.

Phryne Fisher believes that as well, I'm sure. But that's not nearly as problematic for me. She's not supposed to be a devout Catholic. There are many seasons of Murdoch Mysteries, and I have no idea how his faith is handled in later episodes. Maybe it all turns out okay . . . maybe he gets a backbone, and a catechism, and some makeup remover. I quit watching, so I couldn't tell you.

I didn't find the content of the show objectionable. As far as I saw there's no onscreen funny business, and very little gore. But it felt like I was watching a character journeying in the wrong direction, and I'm not much interested in doing that.

3. Bones

I'm really not sure HOW I picked this one. I pretty much never watch American TV shows. (Except for this one.) But, I ended up watching it somehow. At first, I was just intrigued by the fact that two of the first three episodes featured Catholic characters, even though those characters were a crazy stalker guy, and a murdered altar boy. But I kept watching, and it turned out one of the two main characters is a Catholic himself.

Bones, the forensic anthropologist, and Booth, the FBI agent, are played against one another as the brain vs the heart, and reason vs faith. I'm finding the show very enjoyable, if occasionally frustrating.

Considering that the show is about a team of forensic anthropologists and an FBI agent who solve cases by examining the remains of murder victims, there really isn't much gore or violence. I also appreciate that the cases themselves aren't salacious, as is often the case in crime-based shows. And while there is some hanky-panky, it's all been off screen.

I'm only in season two of ten, so I know there is plenty of character development left to come, but I like this show, and I find Booth very endearing, even with his shortcomings.

He tells a nun that he goes to Mass every Sunday, but he also has a son out of wedlock and keeps falling into physical relationships with his ex-girlfriends. I know all of that happens, I just wish the writers didn't portray it as completely to be expected, and no big deal.

Still, I love how open and matter of fact Booth is about religion. It is a huge theme of the show. It comes up almost every episode, and Booth consistently defends his faith, even if he doesn't seem to quite understand all the nuances of Catholic doctrine. Unlike Dot in Miss Fisher, he's not set up as the silly butt of the smart kids' jokes. The writers treat the perspectives of both Bones and Booth with respect. And unlike Murdoch in Murdoch Mysteries, Booth doesn't appear to have been made Catholic so we can all watch him learn important lessons about how wrong Catholicism is.

Sometimes they give Bones the last word, and she gets a zinger or two in against religion in general, and Catholicism in particular. But Booth has some profound everyman insights into his faith. He's a good man and he seems to want to be a good Catholic. And, at this point, that seems very refreshing.

And that's my honest opinion, but this is a sponsored post.


Okay, your turn. There must be other TV shows out there with Catholic main characters and Catholic themes. Actually, I KNOW there are, because I already asked this on the Catholic All Year Facebook page. But, let's talk about them here. Are there any mainstream TV shows that feature a Catholic main character who gets it right? Or someone who goes from not particularly Catholic to devout Catholic, rather than the other way around?




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62 comments:

  1. There is an English detective show titled Father Brown which portraits a Catholic pries investigating crimes in his parish. I've only seen one episode, so I can't quite tell if he is "true" Catholic (i.e.representing our Faith in faithful manner). And of course, there is one and only Hercule Poirot and 13 seasons of his shows with David Suchet.

    That's all I can remember at the moment :)

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    1. Father Brown is awesome! My husband and I have watched quite a few episodes and it's one of very few shows featuring Catholic characters that actually gets it right. I highly recommend it!

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    2. Yes, we love Fr Brown! He's based on Chestertons character but the current version is set in the 50's. The mysteries are a bit sillier than other BBC shows like Endeavor but still good.

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    3. My husband and I enjoy Poirot quite a bit! We have not even bothered, however, with Father Brown, based on the reaction of my husband's brother, a Roman Catholic priest. By his account, Father Brown is an affront to the memory of GK Chesterton. With a reaction like that, I am not interested in squandering our precious kid-free streaming time.

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    4. As a massive Chesterton Fan, I don't think he'd be too offended at this screen adaptation. The whole show has an air of playful wit that I think perfectly captures Chesterton's outlook on life. Chesterton, above all, would be the last person to take himself or his work too seriously so I would give it a shot. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but it is fun, witty and vocabulary improving. :D

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  2. I've just started watching Phryne Fisher, and I agree with you about it being a great show. But I do like Dot (although I've only watched about five episodes so far), and I think the writers of the TV show made her a more likeable character than she was in the books (granted, I've only read the first one!).

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    1. Yes, she's certainly likeable, on the show. My understanding is that in the books Hugh is Catholic, so I'm hoping show-Hugh converts. That would be cool. I don't think I've ever seen a conversion on TV.

      But I don't have generally high expectations for the faith and morals of the show, since the author bio I came across for the writer of the books says something about her living with a "registered wizard." Now, admittedly, I don't know what that is. But it doesn't give one a lot of confidence. Still, I enjoyed the show. Especially once I realized that they were just messing with me on the Jack and Phryne thing.

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  3. Ok, I know this is a "reality show" (and it was, in all the bad ways) but there was a show on Lifetime called "The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns." It follows five girls (all early to mid 20's) in their discernment process. The spend six weeks visiting three or four different convents and living and working with the sisters. There is the inevitable drama between the girls (I am sure it was aided by the producers) but the sisters they visit are just wonderful. They get quite a bit of screen time and share the challenges and joys of religious life beautifully. Plus, they are just so adorable and beautiful and living their vocations with joy, which I found so encouraging and attractive.

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    1. Ditto about the nuns on that show! They were so great. The rest of the show, eh. But the nuns!

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  4. Have you seen Leverage? The Catholic stuff is really just sprinkled here and there and only primarily in the first season. But my favorite episode revolves around a Catholic church that is about to be demolished called "The Miracle Job". I love the scene in the confessional. If you watch it, you'll see why.

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    1. No, I've never even heard of it. But I'll look for it.

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    2. I love that show and that episode is my favorite!!

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  5. Hercule Poirot is one of my favorites and Father Brown. I really wanted to like Fisher mysteries but I just couldn't get into to them. Jessica Fletcher is not a Catholic but she's a baptism away! Murder She Wrote is pretty much the bees knees in American murder mysteries in my opinion. Bones I abandoned after the whole ritual baby killing episode and the weird out of wedlock relationship with Booth. It was just disappointing. Oh Grand Hotel just ending on Netflix was such an upset! I an really considerin brushing up on my spanish!

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    1. Acorn TV has some of the best British mysteries on streaming (I'm partial to murder mysteries. They are like my favorite genre ever. At uni, I really wanted to write my thesis on the anthropolgical significance of murder mysteries in present culrure compared to the death cults in Mexico but babies).

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    2. I've seen that Poirot and Murder She Wrote are on Netflix, but I don't think Fr. Brown is on there. I got the free month trial of Acorn when Foyle's War disappeared from Netflix in the middle of me watching it. And they do have a great selection of lesser known British TV, and it's a good deal. But most of the stuff on there is available on Netflix too, even Foyle's War again, so I'm just doing that now.

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    3. Foyles War is back on Netflix!!! I just checked - it is available through season 8. :-D

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  6. Mad Men's Peggy is a Catholic who leaves her parents' home and immediately starts making bad choices. Season 2 has this Catholic plot line where she helps her family's priest (who is young, smart and handsome, btw) with something...but then that plot line just disappears. Mad Men is great because of the dresses (obviously), but also because the characters really aren't rewarded for cheating on their wives or other sexual escapades. These things actually end up making them unhappy. There is also a character who has same sex attraction who never acts on it. How often do you see that?! Anyway, I like Mad Men.

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    1. I know people love this show, but my guess is that I wouldn't personally like Mad Men. My understanding is that it's similar in feel (if not setting) to Breaking Bad, where we watch a character get destroyed by the choices he makes. I don't know if I could handle that, even with dresses. I need a hero.

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    2. By the end of Breaking Bad I really didn't like Walt anymore. Several seasons into Mad Men and I still like Don because you can see a lot of self-sacrificial goodness in him despite his brokenness. The characters are deep and flawed, but it seems like there is still hope that they can find some happiness in the world. I think with Breaking Bad, there was not much hope.

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    3. I watched the first season of Mad Men, maybe two, I don't recall, it was over three years ago, but I stopped watching it because it seemed every other episode if not every episode, someone was hopping into bed with someone else. That's all it seemed to become. If they made the wrong decisions, did they try to repair them, or did they just continue on the same path, regardless if they were unhappy with their actions.

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    4. Well, these are both interesting perspectives. We'll see if I get to it. I do like the dresses!

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    5. I like Mad Men, but for me it's more of a hate-watch. Just the business-as-usual misogyny and racism bothers me (although it's interesting to me from a sociological perspective that it's clear that very little of it was malicious - it's just the way it was back then). I don't like watching Don be a jerk. But just when I think I can't stop hating Don, he does something so good-hearted and genuine that it forces me to not hate him anymore. But I'm still angry with him!

      And yes, I echo the point about people reaping the consequences of their actions. But the show does seem to be setting Don up to redeem himself at the end of the series - but who knows?

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  7. I started watching Jane the Virgin this week because my husband's on a business trip and of course that means it's OK to indulge in trashy TV that I wouldn't watch when he's home because... Yeah. Well anyway, I want to know what others opinion is. The show is clever, playing off the telenovela format, but I have a couple of serious objections. Well, one significant objection. There's a prominently lesbian character whose relationship with her stepmother (telenovela, remember?) gets a lot of on screen time. I'm not sure I can/should continue watching because of it. There's some interesting discussion in the first two episodes about abortion that I felt highlighted the schizophrenia of our culture about killing babies, and there was another interesting sequence involving Jane's decision to consummate her relationship with her fiance. I'm wondering if it's worth watching to just see how the writers deal, if they deal, with these serious and weighty issues... Sorry if this doesn't make sense, my baby's fussing for her nap and I'm scrambling to get bread dough together...

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  8. Jane the Virgin! Not every character on the show is supposed to be Catholic, just her and her grandmother. Other characters do some pretty crazy and immoral things. It is a telenovela after all. But the Catholic characters go to Mass and pray the rosary. I really like that Jane is portrayed as a normal young woman, though, unlike some of the shows you mentioned. She does have her temptations, but ultimately she sticks to her Catholic beliefs.

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  9. Lost has some pretty strong Catholic themes and a couple of Catholic characters. They certainly don't get it all right at all, but Catholicism is treated with respect and the underlying theme is that if these people would follow their Faith they wouldn't be so, well, Lost. (Also one episode emphasizes that *gasp* baptism is necessary for salvation!) :)

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    1. I watched lost when it was new, but gave up on it before the last couple seasons. I might have to try it again though.

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  10. I'm watching the first season of Oz (which is a pretty brutal and disturbing look at prison, with some nudity and sexuality) but if you can get past the gore and the disturbing themes, the Catholic nun leaves her job in protest of the death penalty and the Catholic priest offers a great insight to the faith and how to meet people where they are. (Disclaimer: I'm only 4 episodes in, and I anticipate it only getting more disturbing.)

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  11. I can't agree enough! We love Jessica Fletcher.

    I have a joy/hate relationship with Ms. Fischer and haven't finished the first series yet.

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  12. Netflix is teeming with Hercule Poirot. The shows with David Suchet are the best and I believe that it is currently the only Poirot on Netflix at the moment.

    Poirot is Catholic and it does come to the forefront in many of the movies/shows, especially when a suspect or victim is Catholic. It's so worth watching for the the genius that is Agatha Christie and also for the wonderful style elements. The show went to great lengths to capture the art deco style - his apartment is a relic.

    There is some fun watching the props department try to come up with other art deco pieces. The same tea set shows up in show after show, but for different people, etc. They also have to use the same large art deco house for several shows - but they show it from different angles. It makes it interesting.

    I highly recommend it! Poirot is the right amount of quirky, the shows are very well done, and the clothing is impeccable. Especially his. Which is just one of his quirks. That and his moustache.

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  13. I discovered Once Upon a Time last year and LOVE it! I really enjoyed your review of it (I think I watched at your suggestion). I love how they describe sin, without calling it sin. :) I finished watching it (as much as Netflix has available and am re-watching it from the beginning. LOL)

    I do like Bones a lot. I started watching years ago, before I was Catholic and barely noticed that Booth's character was Catholic, now as I re-watch some episodes I notice it. Though he is not what I would call a devout Catholic, but his faith does influence his decisions, for the better in my opinion. Booth does tends to ignore the Church teachings on sexual morality.

    As for other TV shows with Catholics... that is hard. I love the Inspector Lewis Mysteries (the constable? 2nd is Catholic) -this show is the progeny of Inspector Morse series. (the pre-quel Endeavor is quite good!).

    It is really hard to find Catholic characters portrayed well in US TV/movies or any TV/movies. For movies - check out Yours Mine and Ours (original 1968 with Lucille Ball). the Original Cheaper by the Dozen (1950, black and white) is great, but it is not clear if the characters are Catholic or not. Though there is a hilarious scene where a Planned Parenthood rep comes to the house. Makes me laugh out loud.

    Oh, how could I forget Blue Bloods (recently added to Netflix) it stars Tom Selleck and is about an Irish Catholic NYC police family. I really like this show! My husband and I BOTH enjoy it. I love the family meals with prayer before hand and family discussions of what is going on in their lives and the world. It is realistic, it presents challenging moral situations and the characters don't always choose correctly. I have yet to see anyone recommend that someone else in the family go to confession, though they do show characters getting "advice" from priests. Not sure if we are meant to deduce that is confession?

    I second Murder She Wrote. Just love that show.. I grew up watching reruns. Not Catholic, but demonstrates characters with a strong moral compass. Have you seen Foyle's war yet? I adore that show. There are a few supporting Catholic characters, but again the main character has a strong moral compass. Also check out Bletchley Circle. Not Catholic but great British, post-WWII amateur slueth detective show. The twist is that the ladies are all former Bletchley Park code breakers, now living more sedate lives.

    Two more movies to mention: Calvary (brand new movie)- a very well done movie about a priest who is threatened in confessional. He is told he will be killed the following Sunday by a man who was raped by a priest as a boy. He is told his death will matter because he is a good priest. It is rated R, and I think only 18 years and older should see it with advisement. But it is actually a very nuanced and respectful portrayal of Catholicism. A priest I know recommended it. The whole movie takes place over one week.

    the other movie: Arranged (available on Netflix) is a respectful movie on Orthodox Judaism and Islam. It is fascinating and well done. I just wish such a movie could be made about orthodox Catholic characters (obviously not about arranged marriages.) It shows a stark contrast between the relativistic culture these two young ladies work in and the orthodox faith they both embrace and follow willingly. I would love to hear your take on this movie. :)

    I will be adding your above suggestions to my Netflix que. :-) Sorry for the novella: the portrayal of Catholics in TV/movies has been on my radar in a major way since my conversion. LOL Maybe I'll write my own post on this. :)

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    1. I forgot to mention... the Yours Mine and Ours (1968 version) is available through Netflix DVD rental, not streaming. I'll be returning the DVD shortly. ;)

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    2. I have heard that about Blue Bloods, but haven't seen it yet. And I saw that Kathryn from Through a Glass Brightly really highly recommend Calvary. I'm hoping to see us this weekend.

      I have seen and really enjoyed Foyle's War. Yes! He's a really great character, who wants to do the right thing. And Sam Stewart is great, too. I did watch Bletchley Circle as well, but didn't like that. It's SO dark, and I never really connected with the characters.

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    3. I can see that about Blechley Circle. Season two is less dark, but still dark. Though I could feel the feminism stick being banged over my head while watching it (both season inclusive). LOL I put up with it because I have a fascination with Bletchley and the WWII code breakers.

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  14. Not a show I would necessarily recommend, though I did watch it regularly back in the day, but I appreciated how Law & Order: SVU portrayed Catholic detective Eliot Stabler. He had a significant violent streak when confronted with injustice, so he was not an all-around great guy. But he was very serious about his Catholic faith and the other characters took him seriously in it, and so did the show's writers. The current guy-detective who replaced Stabler is also Catholic but you get the sense it is only culturally.

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  15. The West Wing. President, First Lady, and president elect in the final episode (not to mention chief of staff and several other prominent characters are all catholic). The administrations are liberal but Aaron Sorkin is a smart (and fair!) writer who does give the legitimate catholic facts a fair shake. His characters are haunted and human though, and they struggle with their catholic identity.

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  16. I love watching BONES and Booth's Catholic faith continues to come out. Even though Brennan always wants to counter with her lack of belief and why it's better, she listens to him. In season 7 or 8, there's a week when Sweets (he's new in season 4 I think) asks where Booth is always going on Friday, thinking maybe it's Friday confession. Booth says he can't go because he's living with a woman and his child (not to do too many spoilers since you are many seasons behind) - and he either has to move out or marry her before going back to confession. The things he says about the Church are almost always sound (can't really think of an episode where they are wrong about what the Church teaches). And he struggles with his faith through out the series as he does his job, and talks with Brennan about how he always comes back to the Lord. Anyway, LOVE Bones - hope you keep watching!

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    1. I love Bones too!! Especially that one episode in which Booth reads in Latin and the person with him was incredibly surprised. I love the part in which he replies, "What?! Altar boy, here." Or something like that.

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  17. I really enjoy Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries because the costumes and the stories are usually so interesting. I especially love Dot. While she is sometimes made to seem a bit silly, I like that Miss Fisher generally doesn't try to make her feel bad about it but respects that Dot has certain scruples that dictate some of her behaviors. I feel like Dot grows up a bit over the course of the series and matures without giving up her beliefs. I'm eager to see how her relationship with Hugh progresses and whether or not he actually converts and how they end up.

    I haven't watched the Murdoch Mysteries and after your review I probably won't.

    I love Bones. I also love that Bones doesn't always get the last word in. I struggled for a while in liking that show when Booth was so nonchalant about his sexual relationships in light of calling himself a practicing Catholic, but his holding fast to other things brought me around. I like that even though he's more brawn than brains, he has some really profound things to say about faith vs. reason.

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  18. This is not a TV show, rather a movie, Jesus of Nazareth, on Netflix streaming. It's in movie format but I believe it was originally a mini series when it came out either in the late 60s or early 70s. I put off watching it because I thought, well it's not Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, so it can't compare, but it's really well done. The scene introducing Mary (played by Olivia Hussey, of Romeo and Juliette) is very well done and also when she proclaims her Magnificat, as well as the Annunciation scene.

    Another movie featuring Catholics, though it's more of an Italian culture thing- is MARTY, with Ernest Borgnine, also on Netflix streaming.

    My Son John, though I saw it on Amazon Prime- GREAT MOVIE, SUPER GREAT take on devout belief in the teachings of the Church as well as the spread of communism- it's a movie from the 50s.

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  19. I love Bones! And while Booth certainly has his flaws, his faith comes up a lot throughout the series and he is always willing to defend Catholicism and religion. Keep watching: it just gets better!! :)

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  20. I completely agree with Bethany about West Wing. The Bartlets are devout Catholics and quite conflicted at times between their political convictions and convictions of heart, such as the whole "personally pro-life, politically can't tell someone what to do. Sorkin does a tremendous job of keeping it very balanced and respectful, even in the tension. While not a perfect representation, I feel like it is one of the best I've seen.

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  21. This is sort of an awkward place to tell you this, but since you wrote about shows about dresses (and since through my own fault I can't find a better way to contact you), I thought you might like to hear about a book I have started reading called "The Lost Art of Dress" by Linda Przbyszewski. It is a fascinating history of how style was taught and developed in America and the women who influenced it. One line I love that I thought you might also like is taken from an older text, "A woman should wear flattering colors in the home since the home is the center from which all lines of human endeavor radiate."

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    1. Oooh, that sounds very fancy. And interesting. The comments are always a good way to reach me, but if you prefer email it's CatholicAllYear@gmail.com

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  22. I was an extra on Homicide: Life on the Street one time. The episode was about two murdered priests; and I was in the funeral scene. I remember that I had to 'educate' the camera man as to how a Catholic would genuflect upon entering. It never made it to the screen, but at least they filmed me doing it. Ironically, I believe the scene was filmed in a Methodist church... It was so long ago, I don't remember how they handled the funeral, so maybe I'll have to try to find those old episodes and watch them again.

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  23. The guyliner on Murdoch upsets me so much. I mean, WHY!!!!!

    Mad Men's Peggy, as already mentioned, is from a Catholic family. And the show is great. Can't think of any others in my show watching list although Buffy the Vampire Slayer is full of crucifixes & holy water!

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  25. Oh this is one of my favorite things to look for in shows / movies I watch. I look at it a LITTLE more broadly because in some sci-fi / fantasy you sometimes see things that are pretty unmistakably proxies for Catholicism or the search for Truth(TM) in general which will send some pretty cool pro-Catholic messages (if you know what to look for).

    Anyway -

    - Orange is the New Black - I like this show a lot because of the portrayal of the prison and the various characters. Over time the show fleshes out the stories of one character after another in such a way as to make it clear that they broke the law and therefore they are in prison, and yet you feel a lot of sympathy for them as human beings and the situations they found themselves in such that they chose things that put them in prison. For me it underscores the idea that choices have consequences, and no matter how understandable a choice may be in the moment, the consequences (both certain and potential) MUST be considered very carefully. It's a great study on human nature with enough humor to keep it from being too heavy. On to the Catholic part - there's a nun in prison who is well-portrayed with that otherworldly serenity that I see in most of the nuns I have met IRL. And generally she serves the role of the voice of sanity. They show her praying, they show her leading others in prayer, and they show her encouraging others to pray even if they haven't prayed in a long time. But then at one point she gives some VERY questionable advice to the trans woman (Laverne Cox's character) - she basically tells Laverne Cox to give her wife her blessing to begin a relationship with a man on the grounds that it's not fair to the wife to be married to a woman now when she wanted to be married to a man. I know that's a tough situation and all, but I was still like - WHAT?!!! Coming from a nun? And then later on more of Sister's background is revealed and it's made clear that she's had some conduct and doctrinal disputes with the Church before. So her advice to the trans woman KINDA makes more sense, but not much.

    Constantine - not a TV show but a movie. I mainly liked the visual representations of angels and demons - the couple times it happened in the movie, the sight of angel's wings just being suddenly unfurled was done with maximum dramatic effect. But from a doctrinal perspective, Constantine's whining that his soul is certainly damned because he attempted suicide (and was revived) because of the "rules" ... it's nonsensical. Because all he would have to do is step into the confessional that the other main character visits in the beginning of the movie and the entire main plot line goes away. Also, he speaks about good and evil as if there needs to be a "balance" of both in the world, which of course is utter baloney. Like I said, I really only liked to watch the angels' wings unfurl.

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  26. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The religion of the Bajorans is very clearly a proxy for Catholicism. They have a Kai (a Pope) who is elected by the Vedekk Council (i.e. College of Cardinals) and they have active and thriving monastic orders. So many things I love, I'll try to be brief - The main Bajoran character is very devout, and she is frequently seen praying and attending services with other Bajorans. Her religion and its value both for her and as a source of strength and unity for the Bajoran people is never questioned. The gods of the Bajoran religion are actually super-advanced aliens that our human heroes THINK they understand and can explain, but as the series progresses it's clear that scientific knowledge about these gods doesn't even begin to cover it, and there is so much about these gods that cannot be explained or understood even with all the technology they possess. Toward the end of the series, even a non-Bajoran walks into a shrine to pray. Anyway, even though the Bajoran religion is clearly a proxy for Catholicism, like I said earlier, but it's very clearly NOT actually Catholicism - certain inconsistencies (such as not one but TWO female Pope-equivalents) don't bother me. The way this religion was treated in this series is a really great development, because any of the previous two Star Trek series made it very clear that humanity had "outgrown" a need for religion, so it was really cool to see religion and the supernatural treated as something real in this series.

    Game of Thrones - the religion in King's Landing (the political capital) is clearly modeled after medieval Catholicism. There is ritual, priests, traditional prayers, a cathedral - only their god is seven-faceted (the Great Sept) rather than three-faceted.

    Star Trek: Voyager - Last one. There is an episode where Captain Janeway experiences her final temptation. No kidding - she is dead (or so she thinks - in fact she is hovering near death, her soul desperately clinging to a few connecting points with her body), and she meets her father who helps her walk through the ship one last time to say goodbye. Well, her father is revealed to be a suspiciously demon-like alien who leaves through a "portal" which suspiciously looks like a fiery portal to hell. In fact, Captain Janeway rebukes him with, "Go back to Hell, coward." To which he replies, "I will be back for you again when you die. And you will nourish me for a long time." The only thing the episode was missing was a "Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen."

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  27. That's just off the top of my head, and even with that I found I exceeded the post length limits. Anyway - glad to know I'm not the only one that thinks about this stuff!

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  28. I don't know if anyone's mentioned it but The Mindy Project has some hilarious Catholic references. Danny, one of the main Characters, is "Catholic" and they're always poking fun at him for having Father Francis over for dinner every week. One of my favourite references is "I'm so Catholic, I'm not sure about this new pope". But aside from that he doesn't seem all that serious about his faith. There must be a Catholic writer on the team because the jokes are really funny and pretty realistic without being offensive. Also, in reference to Murdoch Mysteries...I'm Canadian, and I've never watched the show so I didn't know that he was Catholic but I'm not all surprised that the CBC has taken the "Catholics just need to get with the times" approach to it. Its kind of their thing!

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  29. I also really like Bones. David Boreanaz has found the fountain of youth, and I also like his Catholic character. I agree with Katie about the balance between Booth and Bones. As she said, he does have a serious problem having children with women to whom he is not married, but there's a realistic honesty in him. I saw one episode where a priest (I think) was found buried outside of his parish church. When Bones & Booth go inside, Bones picks up an ornate chalice and inspects it. Booth freaks out, explains what it's for (accurately!), and reverently puts it back. Disappointing ending to the episode, but like you wrote before, sometimes people make bad choices.

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  30. I watched a few episodes of Orange is the New Black and it was totally filthy. I wish they could have not included some of the total trash (women naked having sex, men masturbating and being given oral sex, etc etc graphically depicted, not like, a slight hint or passing image in the background). I felt like the themes of women living in prison were very interesting but I was so disturbed so much that I felt the need to go to confession. I realize not everyone is impacted in the same way, but it is seriously hard core viewing and I could never recommend it.

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    1. I wondered about that show. The ad campaign for the new season was the women on votive candles, which caught my eye. But I got the feeling I wouldn't be able to watch it.

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    2. Yeah, I agree with Elizabeth. I watched the first episode and felt kind of... violated. I didn't expect it to be nearly so sexually graphic. I shoulda looked up reviews before clicking "play" on that one.

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  31. Happened to come across this while reading blog posts about Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Anyway, just wanted to mention Dana Scully from The X-Files. She isn't always consistent with her faith, but that's quite consistent with her character, and there's a genuine character arc that usually takes her faith seriously. So that's nice to see.

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  32. does anyone know how to find the name of the teaset used on a Father Brown episode? It was episode 23. thanks....

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  34. Father Dowling Mysteries is a great show that was out in the 1980's. It takes place at St. Michael's parish in Chicago and ran for three years. It's not gruesome, bloody, or full of swear words. I think that it may be on Netflix. I know that it is on DVD. I highly recommend it. :)

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