Is it wrong to watch "immoral" tv shows even if they don't necessarily promote immorality

For example, I started to watch breaking bad. While there are certainly morally objectionable things in the show, besides the main plot line of a teacher making meth to support his family, is it wrong to watch the show?

Besides it being a very well written and performed show, I don’t believe it promotes things like drug use or selling drugs. The characters are always in trouble because of what they do, and they hardly promote or show meth making and drug dealing as a glamourous life style. In fact in a way, they show it for what it really is, a bad thing. To me its kind of like the Godfather. The Godfather doesn’t promote the Mafia lifestyle. Most of the characters in the Godfather series were descpicable people, and once again it didn’t say “go out and be a gangster”

So is it wrong to watch shows or movies like this? Part of me thinks no, but i really am not sure anymore.

I wouldn’t think it would be wrong to watch BB. I don’t personally watch the show, but my friends love it. Come on - is it really going to change you for the worse? Most likely not…

There’s nothing wrong with depicting immoral behavior in movies or television. Sin is a part of human life and it can’t be ignored in storytelling; on the contrary, one of the purposes of storytelling and the arts is to help us understand human nature in all its aspects.

The problem comes in when immoral actions are depicted as good, or even glorified. Unfortunately that happens a lot in our increasingly corrupt society. I haven’t seen Breaking Bad so I won’t comment on that. But there are still many good shows on TV, along with all the garbage. Use your discretion.

Making meth to support your family as “entertainment”? That would be suitable as a documentary but not as a “kick off your shoes, grab some popcorn, and enjoy” kind of thing. The Godfather didn’t promote what? It was an A to Z guide to the Mafia lifestyle (I saw all except the last one). Once again, that’s fine for a documentary but not as “entertainment.” Even if the TV example or the Godfather don’t glamorize what they do.

Like the Sopranos. People killing other people, cheating on their wives, murdering their own - that’s “entertainment”? Sorry, it’s like meditating about the subject. A waste of time at best and a “let’s get used to strippers, profanity, murder, theft, mob hits and adultery” as a great way to spend an hour. (Yes, I’ve seen numerous episodes.)

I’ve ended my desire to indulge in ugly social voyeurism. Indiana Jones, the first movie, a nice balance, but what they’re showing today? Nope.

It’s always getting more graphic, showing more skin, more sexual situations, and adding profanity, immoral sex and even drug use by professional, well-paid people as parts of the scenery, and they, the producers, want more? Apparently so.

Hope this helps,

Well, while Nietzsche wasn’t a Christian theologian, his statement of “If you stare long enough into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you” has always rung true to me. There’s enough real misery and pain in the world without filling our minds with the fictional version of it, too. Another statement that has always rung true for me is “This does not further,” which I think was attributed to Siddhartha. In other words, if something is not of use, why do we mess with it? In our case, if it’s not useful to our faith, why spend time on it? Last, of course, is Christ himself – “Sufficient therein is the trouble for the day.” Finding fictional things to worry about or wrap ourselves up in distracting ourselves from our families and our work as Christians.

I used to be a pretty avid computer and video gamer, but have no use for it any longer. There’s no need to spend 4-5 hours a day playing a game. I know people who by and large define their lives by what shows they’re watching. Likewise, I don’t know what the point of spending time like that watching TV shows with dubious content is. Even if it were Little House on the Prarie, there’s still other things we can do.

Maybe I sound like a curmudgeon anymore or something, but Catholics need to by and large tune out and turn off the content that the world offers us and begin living wholly for God.

Compare the show to, say, Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s stories depict murder, incest, witchcraft and sorcery, drunkenness, fornication, paganism, theft, war, etc. etc.

In spite of all this, Shakespeare’s work is lauded for it’s poetry, it:s dramatics, it’s comedy, and his understanding of the human condition. And we teach it to school children
Now I haven’t seen Breaking Bad so I can’t compare it to anything. But what I can say is that morally unsteady ground can make for impressive art. Though from what I’ve seen, ibwouldn’t let children watch it.

The Church tried to engage Hollywood early on. It basically said that the visual medium needs to be used responsibly but Hollywood did not really listen. Oh, there were other religious groups who added their voices, including Protestants, Jews and others. And it did help, for a while.


I think this was discussed on another similar thread. For younger people who are more impressionable and far less wise to discern what should be as opposed to what is, I’d say it’s ill advised for them to watch. Not immoral per se. An adult who is wiser can probabaly get a chuckle or two from Frasier’s failed relationships and know not to follow suit. One of my favorites was Friends; people sleeping around was the norm. Still a great show, even if the subject matter was a bit irreverant.

We started watching Breaking Bad, loved it at first, but then I started debating whether to keep watching it when it took what I considered to be an unacceptable and out of character moral turn for the worse. My wife and son were both hooked, however, and my son made it clear that if he didn’t get to watch it with us, he’d watch it with friends. I decided to keep it as part of our family viewing (after the young 'uns went to bed, of course). This allowed me to skip through the more objectionable content and turn each episode into a learning opportunity (mostly focusing on how the ends never justify the means, the opposite of which seems to be the driving theme of the show). I think certain shows are what you make of them, and whenever you can, you should attempt to turn around the intended message and turn it into something positive.

Ahh. I think folks get too scrupulous over these things. I’ve seen every episode, it’s the best tv series ever done. I’ve never missed an episode of “The Walking Dead” either.

Ask yourself if watching that show is leading you to sin. If the answer is no, then I wouldn’t worry about it.

I also watch The Walking Dead where there are sometimes moral dilemmas when I don’t know whom to side with anymore. There were some scenes though which you need to skip.

Perhaps for you, but not me.

I don’t know if I like this argument though. I mean lets say someone watched porn, but only because they found it hilarious because of bad acting (weirdly enough, me and my sister have a gay male friend who watches straight porn because of this:eek: :confused::shrug::bigyikes:.) If it doesn’t lead a person to sin then would watching adult films be okay? I don’t think so.

I’m trying not to be scrupulous, but anymore I find that people need to be adults and decide what they can and cannot watch. I too long for days when there was more moral television on, and there still are shows that are (I’ve heard a lot of people like Downton Abbey because of this. I myself watch Dr. Who because of this, and a lot of masterpiece theatre shows) But in some cases I guess I feel there is a difference between glamourizing a certain lifestyle, and just portraying it. Someone mentioned friends. Friends causes me more issues because it shows its characters in a positive light for hooking up. A show like BB doesn’t do it (though certainly it might promote some form of evil for some) for me because peoples lives are screwed up.
As the walking dead ? Seriously, its about a zombie apocalypse. Most people on here would do the same thing to zombies in order to survive. Same with War movies. Are people going to attack Saving Private Ryan and say its immoral because its wrong to kill, even though the killing in it is related to warfare, survival and men fulfilling their duty?

To each their own I guess. I try and approach with caution, as everyone should.

I don’t think that is the producers/directors’ intent ever. I heard the big cry of “You can’t cut out or ignore any part of my movie/TV show.” Oh yeah, directors were up in arms that anybody would edit their sacred work by cutting out a little skin or replacing profanity with clean words.

My job is not to be educated by fictional TV shows. I want 100% clean TV shows. If Hollywood won’t give me that then whatever it is is not worth my time.


“be adults” is the lie some people tell themselves about movies and TV. Right after the war, there were plenty of war movies. I watched them when I was a boy. People got shot and fell over, sometimes they screamed in pain, and sometimes there was a little blood. We got the point. With Saving Private Ryan, the director decided we needed to see dismemberment, soldiers on fire or with their guts hanging out. Anyone who has never been in combat has NO idea how that actually feels like. NO ONE. And to see your radio man’s face shot off? Oh yeah, that was soooooo important.

I had a gun pressed to my head with a warning that I’d die if I made a move. Do you know what that feels like?

More blood and gore does not sensitize, it desensitizes. My dad was a vet and he rarely talked about what he saw. The same with the other vets in the neighborhood. They wanted it behind them. They only wanted to get married and have kids, which they did.


I’m not overly concerned with that their intent is. I have no intention of watching certain content, regardless of who it upsets. My son gets annoyed when we watch something and I either skip past a lewd scene I know is coming, or that pops up unexpectedly. That opens him up to at least a short talk on how disrespectful it is to his mother and sisters to watch that sort of garbage. Sure, that usually annoys him more, but the fact that he’s not yet been able to come up with a single reason that validates watching something like that I’m hoping will resonate with him at some point. (For the record, it’s not like we sit around all the time watching inappropriate stuff with our son, but there are a handful of movies we enjoy that we know have one or two scenes we have to skip through, while other movies/shows don’t always give accurate content warnings so we’re occasionally caught off guard.)

Edited to add: Yes, we have had several people get angry with us for being such “prudes” and not letting our son do what’s “natural.” In other words, because we don’t intentionally view movies with graphic content and don’t allow him to keep porn in his room, we’ve been called mean, unfair and bad parents. We tend to distance ourselves from people like that anymore.


Here’s how you determine if something is sin or not without even asking:

Would Jesus do this?

The answer is obvious. When you have questions like these, always think what Jesus would do. If Jesus would not do this, then it is a sin (with some exceptions like marriage).

Actually, it is fine for entertainment.

A waste of time at best and a “let’s get used to strippers, profanity, murder, theft, mob hits and adultery” as a great way to spend an hour. (Yes, I’ve seen numerous episodes.)

It is hardly a waste of time if you are actually capable of understanding fiction as something beyond insipid indoctrination. To view fiction only as a vehicle for sterile black-and-white situations is un-Catholic.

It may be worth the time of other people who want something different.

Now they have a better sense of the horrors of war than if they had watched a sanitized movie. How can you think that is unimportant? What a blessing, that citizens who have never seen warfare with their own eyes can get a sense of the sacrifice and experience of other people.

The answer is obvious. When you have questions like these, always think what Jesus would do. If Jesus would not do this, then it is a sin (with some exceptions like marriage).

How am I supposed to know what Jesus did in his free time? How would I know whether he would go bowling or not? If I think not, is it a sin now?

This makes sense to me. That Jesus wouldn’t do something cannot be the only criteria. Yes, Jesus wouldn’t steal, that sort of thing, but as mentioned, if He went bowling, not sinful. Pointless and boring though, because He’d score a perfect score each and every time…:smiley:

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