How to Enjoy Jen Hatmaker’s Upcoming Reality Show

When I heard the news last week that Christian author Jen Hatmaker would be the subject of a new HGTV reality show, I was conflicted.

Certainly, I am curious how Jen and her family will translate through reality TV. From what I’ve read from Jen’s blog and her social media commentary, she and her family have plenty of humor and clumsy situations to offer. I mean, it’s a rare gal who goes commando on the Today show and later admits it. But that’s part of her charm—she shares what the typical person hides. She invites us to join her in gawking and laughing at the oddities surrounding her life.

In addition to the humor, I believe the Hatmakers have just enough whimsy to make their lives a good viewing spectacle. They have nontraditional work and home lives: He’s a pastor, she’s a national-level writer and speaker. He has tattoos and rides a Harley. She says the crazy stuff that most of us only think or mutter under our breaths. They have three biological children plus two adopted children from Ethiopia. And their Christian faith is an integral part of everything they do. The Hatmakers will make for good reality TV because different is their whimsy.

Different has worked with other family-focused reality TV shows, such as with TLC’s Jon & Kate Plus Eight and 19 Kids and Counting. These series showed nontraditional home lives with faith elements included (the latter more so than the former). In both series, viewers are treated to the more interesting aspects of living in a nontraditional family. And by interesting aspects, I mean the odd and the chaotic—because that makes for good reality TV. Boring doesn’t drive ratings. From Jen’s perspective, it sounds like she believes her family’s TV presence will be far from dull:

“Crazy is as crazy does, keen reader. They can only pick up what we lay down, savvy? So in other words, we are doomed, cause we can lay us down some crazy. However, these good people actually like our little tribe and have assured us they are going more for “fun wholesome family” and less “OH NO YOU DI’INT! HOLD MY EARRINGS!” You’re supposed to like us, not wish us dead at the end of every episode. So yeah, this is a total crapshoot.”

The Hatmakers may provide us with some highly amusing television—and for that, we will be eternally grateful. But I must say that I fear TV life will produce another Jon and Kate fiasco rather than another Duggar family.

Honestly, I also fear how Christians will respond. Some will be offended by off-the-cuff humor. Others will expect the show to be a method in modern-day evangelism. They will be placed on a pillar by some and run through the wringer by others. There will be analysis and commentary and suggestions for how the Hatmakers should be.

I’m wondering, could we simply let the show and the Hatmakers be what they are? This is a TV show and a family. Although God may use it to bring on the next great revival, my guess is no. TV will grant the Hatmakers the chance to display on a grand scale how their humanity intersects with the divinity of Jesus in everyday circumstances. That could be something beautiful to behold, something that makes us laugh and cry and hope. It could be the means for greater understanding about Christians in general, which would also be beautiful.

Although we must wait for the show to know the impact it might have, one thing is for sure: the Hatmakers are a wonderfully, imperfect family with a wondrous, perfect Savior. If we keep that in mind, we just might be able to watch this reality show and truly enjoy it.

About Erin Straza

Erin Straza (Associate Editor) is a freelance writer, editor, and marketing communications consultant, helping organizations tell their stories in authentic and compelling ways. After a stint in corporate marketing while earning her MBA, Erin taught marketing communications at Illinois Wesleyan and Illinois State. She is crafting her first book, writing from the Illinois flatlands where she lives with her husband, Mike. Find more from Erin at her blog Filling My Patch of Sky and on Twitter @ErinStraza.
E-mail: erin [at] FillingMyPatchOfSky [dot] com
Blog: Filling My Patch of Sky
Twitter: @ErinStraza