Best Secular TV series for Christians

Hi Forum Friends,

I’m writing an article highlighting some of the best secular TV series of 2011. Need your help and opinion here.

What do you think is/are the best TV Series to have aired this past year that is/are:

  • Well-written and produced
  • Great Entertainment
  • Healthy for the average Catholic/Christian

And why?

That’s an interesting question . Most entertainment shows don’t address religion that often , if at all . So , keeping in mind that when I watch episodic TV , it’s usually some sort of drama ( I rarely watch situation comedies anymore ) , I would say that NCIS and Blue Bloods are usually respectful of Christianity and religion in general . They may have an issue with Christianity in some plot related sense , but I find them to be sensitive, tasteful and respectful , at least by modern standards .
This is not meant to be a complete list . I would appreciate it if anyone could add some other series .

I have to interject here. If you are writing this for your blog, then shouldn’t you have watched the shows yourself? And thus wouldn’t you know which are the best ones?

I find your question to be two-parted: First of all, the best shows on television are not necessarily the most Christian or Catholic. That doesn’t mean that they are bad or shouldn’t be watched. I just would not base my list of best shows on if they are Christian or not.

Second, and this is vice versa, the most Christian shows are usually not the best. If you look back in history, I would never rank 7th Heaven, Blue Bloods or any of the other family friendly shows as the best, mostly because I find the writing subpar and predictable and the acting average at best.

With that said, I run a blog, TV for Catholics, that is dedicated to secular TV from a Catholic’s perspective (including have already written a 2011 Year in Review, as well as comments on the shows nominated for the Emmy for Best Drama, and I would be happy to collaborate with you on this project should you need it. I have reviews posted of the new 2012 shows with an emphasis on their family and moral potential.

Studio Ghibli. In your country its works are licensed by Disney which has been artificially restricting them to prevent competition with its own programming but these movies are available on DVD and now Bluray. These are really good family friendly, moral teaching stories.

If compared to newer Disney and Pixar fare, Studio Ghibli’s works are more traditional and less post modern.

Masterpiece classic: Downton Abbey, At least that is my vote. (you can watch the first season on netflix, and the current second season at PBS.org).

I second Downton Abbey. Fabulous TV series, beautifully written and filmed, and historically pretty accurate. The acting is superb, too, but what else would you expect from the British? :thumbsup:

As well, the genealogy show, Who Do You Think You Are, is great. Entertaining and informative, and sometimes surprising in its findings. And it’s inspirational, too, though not in a religious way–it’s inspired me to dig into my own family’s ancestry! :wink:

“House” (a.k.a. “House, M.D.”) because it’s the only show to address faith and medicine on a consistently provocative and entertaining basis - that’s aside from its basis in the mysteries of Sherlock Holmes. Whereas Dr. House himself is an avowed atheist, the show clearly - clearly - shows he’s the most miserable and most unhappy doctor, compared to his Christian and Jewish colleagues. Another CAF poster mentioned on a “House” thread a while back that one of the doctors, possibly Chase, was Catholic. I’m really going to miss that show - “Nurse Jackie,” which takes place at a Catholic hospital, is the only show that comes close to the brilliance of the writers of “House.”

Magister102, right on all points! :slight_smile: I’m not writing it as a personal opinion piece, what I think is the best show, but more a piece that can highlight shows that are valuable for the Catholic/Christian eye. The shows don’t have to be spewing Bible verses or condemning every sin, but something that is ‘healthy’ (or, perhaps in the case these days, 'NOT AS UNhealthy" for the person who wishes to be selective in their TV viewing. I personally don’t watch too much TV, so I wanted to get a feel of what you other people thought, and then go check out those shows.

I saw your blog and I like it! Keep up the good work! If you don’t mind, I would like to look at a collaboration some time in future! Thanks for the input!

What do you mean by secular TV shows, how is that defined? A show that is not mainly about church or temple or religion? (which might encompass most TV shows that do not on a religious network?)

I assume you mean no swearing and such…etc.

If so, then one new series that encompasses all above is A Gifted Man–because we follow the main character’s learning arc as he goes from narcissistic doctor who only cares about success and image, to one who devotes his time to help those who are poor and need him, but cannot afford him. He does this via visits from his deceased, ex-wife…who comes back and visits him in spirit form, and helps him learn to be a better men, teaches him lessons, nudges him on the right path. So it’s got a whole spiritual, angle to it, as well as providing a great message and heart-warming little stories each episode. Patrick Wilson stars and he’s always good.

Glad you suggested this I had my eye on this will have to watch it.

Speaking only for myself, I would consider the following current shows which I watch acceptable to Christianity:

Downton Abbey
Boardwalk Empire (has violence. It did have a character realize the sinfulness of living with her lover and repent then marry to be right with God.)
maybe The Walking Dead (It did have a character try to induce an abortion with pills, but she changed her mind)

Do you want shows which are well made and not too scandelous or shows without anyone committing any mortal sin? Even sex was brought into Downton Abbey.

I also recommend Downton Abbey. The acting and writing are very good and the time period that the show is set is just an interesting one for me, from an historical perspective, especially in terms of how much life changed during such a short period of time. Maggie Smith’s character of the Dowager Countess is one of my favorites. I also like how many of the characters are multi-dimensional. For example, Lord Grantham is one of the kindest characters on the show, but they also show his faults and weaknesses, especially in this last episode. The same with O’Brien’s character. I do not like her because of her conniving and troublemaking, but they also show a good and caring side to her.

I’m a big fan of Bones. It has an athiest and a Catholic as the leads and I think they are both treated with respect. It has pretty good values, not perfect, this is a secular show, but it has plenty of high moments. One thread for awhile was a couple having their first child struggled with the possibility of him being blind and there was never talk of abortion, only that they would deal with whatever came. It does have violence, it is a crime show, so not for young kids, but for teens and adults, I think it is great. :thumbsup:

I’m thinking that a show that is suitable for Christian viewing is not one that has no sin or violence. But I think it’s quite important that the show does not glorify these things.

For example, a character in the show can be immoral, but do the producers show him in a glorified manner? If they do, they’re not showing the truth. Is the focus on glorifying sin and pleasure, or is it focused on story-telling and - god willing - goodness of truth?

Sounds good! I’ll check out Bones. Thanks KarenElissa…

I think Downton Abbey would be okay then. The immoral behavior is thought to be scandalous in the show.

I’ll throw a kind of unusual recommendation out - FRINGE.

It’s not for very young viewers - it’s an SF/Fantasy/action/crime show on Fox where there are some very frightening images and situations, and there is an extra-marital relationship between two of the main characters.

What’s interesting is that Walter, a sort-of modern Dr. Frankenstein who acts as a consultant for a branch of the FBI that is investigating a series of connected bizarre events - is repeatedly shown as a believer in God and a Christian, who regrets the past use of research, and the immoral nature of his experiments in the past, and the hubris of an earlier attempt to play God by crossing into a parallel universe, which resulted in tragedy. He’s a very flawed character who is working towards his moral redemption, and who has made hard choices in past episodes towards that end. That’s not a moral perspective one normally sees on episodic television. He’s also wonderfully played by John Noble (who was the Steward of Gondor in THE LORD OF THE RINGS).

A late entrant to 2011 with 7 episodes airing between October and December is “Once Upon a Time”. I am thoroughly enjoying the their take on the classic fairy tales and am intrigued by how they tie in to the present-day plot. No swearing, no sex scenes, moral messages, even though there is no Christianity in it.

I have followed Bones, House, Glee, Boardwalk Empire, Friday Night Lights, Ugly Betty, True Blood, Walking Dead, among other Emmy Favorites. While I enjoyed them and appreciate the art form they are, I did so exercising a Catholic filter of sorts. I think that’s why Once Upon a Time has been so refreshing for me - I can thoroughly relax for the entire episode to just take in the experience (at least so far).

I have been enjoying Person of Interest this season. It has been quite good so far.

I have been generally (I am one or two seasons behind since I don’t have cable) keeping up with Psych, and Burn Notice. Psych is really clean and just hilarious. (Find the pineapple:p). Burn Notice has more violence, and sex, and hard decisions where there is no right answer. I also enjoy the Big Bang Theory, but that requires a good filter and a good bit of humor to laugh at oneself.
Bones is also fun, but I haven’t really been able to keep up with it.

I am not a big fan of Fringe, I watch a bunch of the first season, but it really didn’t appeal to me.

I’ve seen people on this site bash the family, but I often watch “19 Kids and Counting.” While their theology doesn’t always line up with my Catholic faith, it shows people who love Jesus, and who have JOY in how they live their faith. I also admire their dedication to their faith.

I don’t know it that’s what you’re looking for.

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