At Christianity Today, I wrote about Broadchurch and True Detective and the situation in Ferguson, and whether or not I am part of the problem:
But there’s one very important thing both shows do, something that Christians, frankly, need to do better in their storytelling: they understand intuitively that sin is both a personal and a corporate matter. Sin is something in people’s hearts, and it’s also something that permeates a community. And when something goes wrong in a community, rarely is the perpetrator the only one at fault.
In True Detective, it becomes clear that the evil within the community is far more pervasive than one man. It starts high and slides all the way to the lowest, and it runs straight through the hearts of the detectives themselves. This is reminiscent of The Wire, which compellingly shows that violence and drugs and criminal activity have both a simple answer—all people are capable of evil—and a very complex one, because there is no way to simply point a finger in one direction. Once you start tugging on the loose threads, you discover that the boys selling drugs on the corner and the kingpin and the mayor, they’re all connected.
Similarly, in Broadchurch, tugging on the loose threads reveals that while everyone is under suspicion, it’s not really merely the perpetrator’s fault. In some way, one death is a failure of the whole community to live with love and integrity. And each person, even the “innocent,” has something ugly in their own hearts, something they hide from others that ultimately harms the community as a whole. They harbor anger and resentment and the line from acquaintance to enemy is quickly crossed. Grace and forgiveness are hard-won, when they’re there at all. (See Calvary for another good look at this.)