My poor, sweet husband married a wimp when it comes to movies and television shows. You know how some husbands get to take their wives to movies with violence and suspense? Swords clash and blood spurts and the victor does a little dance with a bloody head dangling by the hair? So manly.
Eric doesn’t get to do this with his wife. He gets to go alone, or with a buddy.
Eric gets to watch Father of the Bride and the Cosby Show and Columbo when I’m in the room. I can’t help it. I have bad dreams, okay? And I’ve never had a filter for sorting out reality from fiction when it comes to suspense or fear– it just feels like it’s happening right now, to me or persons I love.
But a man can only take so much, and a few months ago he carefully suggested I might like to watch House of Cards with him. He had been watching it when I walked into the room, and I sat down for a few minutes. Immediately intrigued, he had to fend off my questions. “Who’s that?” “What’s he doing?” “Why is she so terrible?!”
So he started the series over at the beginning for me and now I’m up to my eyeballs in politicians and the terrible, manipulative games they play. I have no idea how close the show is to the reality of Washington DC, but I am fearful that it might be quite accurate.
These people are terrible, awful, horrible examples. The only characters with any redeeming values usually stand up for good and get squashed like bugs halfway through the show. Frank Underwood, the main character, has manipulated grieving parents, stood in front of a church like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, slept with a young reporter, and systematically rearranged the careers of other politicians for his own benefit.
Don’t even get me started on his wife. She might actually be the devil. I haven’t quite decided.
So the obvious question is this– why would a follower of Christ watch a show like this? It certainly isn’t edifying or encouraging. I don’t get good ideas from it. It doesn’t teach me to love my husband or children any better, and I’m certain it makes me an even worse employee.
But that’s the beauty of the thing. Sometimes the bad examples speak the most clearly. I get pretty saturated in my churchy world– I work in one, I attend one, I blog and write for other Christians. I forget there’s a whole world out there that desperately needs Jesus, and then a show like House of Cards comes along and reminds me of how depraved we all are without Christ.
When we don’t have God, we’re selfish and mean and manipulative and seductive and awful. This is no way to live. Watching the bad characters destroy the lives of others gets my sense of justice and compassion all stirred back up again. I remember why following Christ with humble service to others matters. Kindness matters. Selflessness is beautiful.
And while the terrible people on screen cavort and manipulate and destroy one another, I shake my head and remind myself to never be like them.
What about you? Do you have a terrible show that actually teaches you something? Tell me all about it.