The Sisterhood: A Reality Series About Would-Be Nuns

Posted on November 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Lifetime’s new reality series “The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns” is one of the best shows on television right now. It follows a group of five young women who are considering becoming nuns and have entered into a process called “discerning.” They spend time in three convents, which for the first time opened up their world to cameras. They are The Carmelites for the Aged and Infirm in Germantown, New York; The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence in Chicago, Illinois; and The Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker in Walton, Kentucky.

The girls come across as shockingly unprepared for what they have undertaken, most of them with little practical or theological understanding, looking stunned when their cell phones are taken away and they are told that there is no make-up allowed. They bring a lot of luggage (literally as well as metaphorically) and seem to have no idea that they will be wearing the same simple uniform every day. A senior nun quietly explains, “Things you may have used our in society, they don’t really help you to grow with integrity and to see yourself as the gift you are that God sees you.” I’m pretty sure the one with the fancy nails, the (fake) Vuitton bag, and the boyfriend isn’t going to make it. I also have my doubts about the one who gushes about being proposed to by Jesus like she’s on “The Bachelor” and he handed her a rose.

What is deeply moving and inspiring here is not the halting steps of these young women but the deeply spiritual sisters who are guiding them. They present religious life as a truly holy undertaking on the most profound level. They are warm and welcoming to the young women but their comments and choices reflect the way that their faith has anchored and illuminated their lives and made it possible for them to devote themselves to worship and good deeds.

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Television

The TV Preferences of Republicans and Democrats

Posted on December 11, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Entertainment Weekly commissioned a study showing political differences in television-watching and they are so pronounced it provides some explanation of the increasing polarization and partisanship of our political conversations.  In the early days of television, Marshall McLuhan famously called it the “Global Village.”  With so few choices available to watch, we all saw the same programs and that created a common framework and vocabulary, whether it was “The Ed Sullivan Show” or “I Love Lucy.  But the range of choices has led to such disparity in our sources of information and entertainment that television now separates us more than it brings us together.  EW asked people who described themselves as “liberal Democrats” or “conservative Republicans” to list the television programs they liked and didn’t like, so the results are intentionally focused on the extremes, and the survey excluded news, sports, and music.

Are you surprised by any of these?

Liberal Democrats like “The Daily Show” and “Masterpiece” and generally picked comedies,  highly verbal shows like “30 Rock,” “The Office,” “Modern Family” and “Saturday Night Live” more than the conservative Republicans.  They don’t like “Dog the Bounty Hunter” and “Cops.”

Conservative Republicans like “Castle,” Jay Leno, and cable reality shows like “Swamp Loggers” (one of the liberal Democrats’ least favorites).  They don’t like anti-hero shows like “Weeds” and “Dexter” and left-leaning political comedy shows like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”

Encouragingly, if a little predictably, both sides like “The Middle.”

Less encouragingly, this data will be used to determine where political advertising dollars are spent, which promotes even less overlap in world view and understanding between the extremes on both sides.

 

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Television Understanding Media and Pop Culture

‘Sister Wives’ on TLC

Posted on September 30, 2010 at 8:00 am

America’s fascination with extreme family living has led to reality shows about very little people and very big families. The latest is TLC’s “Sister Wives,” about a real-life fundamentalist Mormon polygamous family living in Utah. We meed Kody and his three wives, legal wife Meri and Janelle and Christine, who consider themselves equally fully married. The house, designed by a “plig” (polygamous) architect is helpfully shown to the audience via diagrams. It has separate apartments for the three women, and each has her own kitchen. Apparently, it is easier to share a man than an oven. Two of the women work and the third, who is pregnant with the family’s 13th child, is the house-wife. And things get even more complicated very quickly as it turns out that for the first time in more than 16 years, Daddy is dating again. He is thinking of marrying wife number four, who comes with her own three children.

It is a remarkably likable family, far easier to imagine as your next-door neighbors than the more glamorous and dysfunctional fictional counterparts on HBO’s “Big Love.” They all laugh easily and often and the children all seem happy, healthy, confident, and well cared for. The house is immaculate. The biggest problem the family may face is the one that comes as a consequence of the increased visibility of the show itself; they are now being investigated for breaking the laws against bigamy. Stay tuned.

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Television
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