From The Big Bang Theory to Orange is the New Black, readers of TheHumanist.com are fans of quality television shows that feature humanist characters or episodes that address science or religion in a critical way. Though we may not always agree on the media’s portrayal of atheists and agnostics, it’s refreshing to find more TV shows than ever before that nontheists can relate to, and that have lead characters as open nonbelievers. Here are three new TV shows now airing, set to air, or in the planning stages that may be worth checking out.
Time: Wednesday nights at 10:30 PM on TV Land; first aired on July 15, 2015
Created by: Christopher Vane
Stars: Michael Rosenbaum, Sara Rue
Synopsis: Rosenbaum’s character, Buddy Dobbs, plays a man who was recently dumped by his girlfriend and is currently on the run from a loan shark. After consuming a considerable quantity of alcohol, Buddy prepares to jump off a bridge in a small town and end his misery. But just as he is about to jump, a reverend, on his way into town to begin his tenure as a new leader of a local church, talks Buddy out of it. In a strange twist of fate, the reverend slips and falls to his death. Buddy then decides to steal the reverend’s identity. Unbeknownst to him, Buddy has casually assumed the role of a gay reverend despite actually being a heterosexual atheist. The show follows Buddy’s adventures as he assumes his “new” life.
Why Humanists Should Watch: This comedy employs dark humor and certainly takes a jab at the status quo. For starters, there are not a large number of openly gay pastors in the United States. Furthermore, you would be hard-pressed to find an atheist delivering a Christian sermon in a pulpit on Sunday mornings—I’m sure Buddy’s first attempt at addressing his congregation will elicit some laughs. This show that strays away from conventional comedy and isn’t afraid to poke fun at social taboos is bound to be well-received by a community accustomed to controversy.
Time: Set to air in 2016 on HBO
Created by: Paolo Sorrentino
Stars: Diane Keaton, Jude Law
Synopsis: Diane Keaton plays an American nun living in Vatican City who meets Lenny Belardo (the young Pontificate of Pius XIII), played by Jude Law, and the two soon develop a working relationship. The Pope has a strong conviction to help the poor and is very conservative—all qualities and beliefs a pope should have—but this young pope struggles to decide whether or not he believes God is real, and the show follows him during his crisis of conscience. In a statement by Paolo Sorrentino, he describes the show as being about “the clear signs of God’s existence. The clear signs of God’s absence. How faith can be searched for and lost. The greatness of holiness, so great as to be unbearable when you are fighting temptations and when all you can do is to yield to them. The inner struggle between the huge responsibility of the Head of the Catholic Church and the miseries of the simple man that fate (or the Holy Spirit) chose as Pontiff. Finally, how to handle and manipulate power in a state whose dogma and moral imperative is the renunciation of power and selfless love towards one’s neighbor.”
Why Humanists Should Watch: This eight-part miniseries touches pretty heavily on nontheism as well as compassion for fellow humans. The internal struggle the young Pope has is one that millions of people—religious and non-religious—have encountered at some point in their lives.
Not-Yet-Titled NBC Show By Amy Poehler
Created by: Amy Poehler, Aisha Muharrar
Synopsis: In October last year The Christian Post reported that Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler, is developing a sitcom for NBC; though unconfirmed that the show will feature Poehler herself, the main character is an agnostic woman who inherits a church, complete with its own slew of community members, each of whom is extremely rooted in his or her values. The show is sure to be a crowd-pleaser filled with moments for gut-bursting laughs. (Poehler photo by David Shankbone)
Do you have any shows you recommend that fellow humanists watch? Share in the comments below!