Wednesday, February 11, 2004


My friend and Act One alum, Dr. Pat Phalen, took me up on my request for a more complete episode analysis of the recent Joan of Arcadia "hate-crime" episode. (I hate the phrase 'hate-crime'. Is there really any other kind? Crime is always about hating the good/God....) I was going to have Pat print her message in the comments for the original post, but that has been so clogged by the seems to me futile argument going on down there that I am going to print her assessment here.

I watched Joan this week...with a group of friends who had
never seen it before. Of course, I built up the show to them to the
point where everyone was looking forward to it. Then, in the first few
scenes, I became very uncomfortable about telling them the show was
"smart." The storyline about the minister, the redneck and the
detective was the same old same old. I immediately started to apologize
to everyone...but we saw it through. The twist was very obvious -- but
it was interesting that the boy had received God's message of love from
the minister. It wasn't the minister who told him that "being" gay was
a sin. Unfortunately, the difference between "being" gay and sodomy was
never introduced -- at least it was left vague rather than denied.
Anyway, my own reading of the redneck was that he himself was not
particularly devout. I had the impression from the show that he didn't
even go to church -- this church was the boy's place of worship...not
the family's. This may be me trying to find the smartness in the
script, or it may have been intended -- I'd have to watch the show again
to know. In any case, I found the storyline development unworthy of the
show overall. I was also disappointed to see the obvious attempt to
start dealing with teen sexuality like every other program deals with it
(teens don't think, they just have sex. All of them. It's fun...Let's
watch.). I was really hoping that the stars of the show would be deeper
than that -- maybe to the point of thinking -- and choosing the smart
alternative. Is diversity too much to ask for from prime time
television? We would not do a program where the stars just do drugs.
All of them. It's fun...Let's watch. Would we?

All this said, I don't think the show was a total disappointment. Joan
had some terrific lines, funny and deep. The people with whom I watched
the show actually liked it and said they would watch it again. But they
were willing to overlook several deficiencies in the quality of this
episode and concentrate just on Joan's lines!

Is it just me, or were there too many versions of God in this episode?
And weren't some of the discussions between God and Joan kind of, as I
guess you Hollywood writers say, on the nose?

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