Suggested Programming For EWTN …

… Speaking of not liking things we are supposed to like just because they are Catholic (like Popes), let’s talk about EWTN. Sam Rocha hates EWTN. As do I. I adore Mother Angelica and the rosary. The televised mass is a delight. The rest of the programming; however, is a bit droll. It’s too serious. Seriously Catholic. So Catholic. Overly serious.

*Yawn*

Catholics are a riot. We drink, we laugh, we have van loads of babies and every feast day is a mini party. Catholics are lovers of life and connoisseurs of beauty. We need to be showing the world that side of Catholicism. The joyous every day side of the faith and Her very real and relatable followers.

So what’s with all the seriousness? How about a reality series following around large Catholic families? People were fascinated with the Duggars but Catholics are the hispters of the big family. I recommend Simcha Fisher and Clan Donaldson for the job. Comedy gold right there, folks.

Might I also suggest a show called What Not To Wear To Mass hosted by Hallie Lord. She can take your trashy teenage daughter and slovenly son for a wardrobe intervention. If you run into copyright issues with the phrase “What Not To Wear”, I think Yaweh or the Highway has a nice sound to it.

Or even better, at Matthew Alderman‘s suggestion, a clerical version entitled “How Not to Vest,” where a wisecracking deacon and nun throw out Fr. Polyester’s hideous chasubles?


OOoooo. And a Catholic redecorating show. Where a team of decorators goes into the home of a new convert and adds the obligatory, yet tasteful (or not), Catholic tchotkes. Projects could also include building a family altar or Prie-dieu. Dwija would be perfect for the job!


Image source.

How about a gardening show, called Mary’s Garden. Where the host turns your ugly yard into a lovely garden accentuated with statues while providing educational background and the spiritual significance of various flowers. Terry Nelson was made for a show like that.

And why hasn’t this been done yet… a Catholic home brewing show? Or a show touring monastery breweries and vineyards. Visit local pubs owned and operated by Catholics. I’m sure you could twist the Catholic Drinkie’s arm to host a show like this.

Brewery at Abbey Notre Dame de Saint Remy, Rochefort. Photo: Paul Cooper, Rex Features

How about a travel show visiting parishes as they celebrate their patron’s day with parties and processions. A cultural guide to Catholic parties, if you will. I’ll gladly host that show.

Just give us something more entertaining and representative of our faith than series after series of guest speakers sitting around a coffee table. And stop with the poorly produced, cheesy movies. Every time there is a low budget production on the life a saint an angel loses it’s wings and a kitten dies.

EWTN… there I fixed it.

Related: Holy Whapping Television Network

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • Kristen

    Awesome suggestions…I have to watch online (hazards of not being able to afford a cable package that I watch less than a 10th of) and I have tuned into many a program interested in a topic only to find out it was a priest sitting and talking to the camera the whole time. Sorry, can’t handle it. When Jen Fulwiler’s Minor Revisions was online I kept thinking, now THIS, I would tune in for weekly!

  • AnneG

    You are right. Most of the shows are very serious, though I love Journey Home and a couple others. I love your ideas. Maybe somebody there will take them on!

  • rozdieterich

    Yes and amen. Before I reverted, I would wonder aloud whether seminaries required training in that meek-and-mild tone that radio and TV priests all seemed to adopt. No wonder Fr. Corapi achieved his regrettable celebrity.

  • CrustyNatsFan

    Good post and suggestions. I could not agree more. It’s like Charlie Rose does all their producing and directing.

  • Donna Gunter

    Kat, I do wish they would take at least some of your suggestions. Sometimes I think I’m going to watch, and I realize I just can’t. It almost lacks a sense of irony at times.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

    I also think EWTN needs a bit more diversity. A little more “universal” in the Church Universal.

    • Eugene Edward Yeo

      I’d like to see “church art around the world”. Do you by any chance know of Sister Wendy? We watched a great deal of her in my art history class, I’d love to see more of that kind of in-depth explanation of religious art. Perhaps with blurbs before the commercials with an Eastern Catholic nun on how to read icons.

      • Romulus

        Give Liz Lev and a good theologian an hour a week in different Roman locations, and turn them loose. Negligible production costs and a huge viewership, guaranteed.

        What about this for a reality show: find a highly successful parish that’s orthodox and liturgically distinguished (yeah, like mine). Select a half dozen or ten LAY parishioners who’re heavily involved in parish life, and follow them around as they do Catholic (and just plain old human) stuff, at their parish and at home. You got your homeschooling family, your older childless couple, your young singles discerning vocation or marriage, your hardworking choir members, your (male) altar servers practicing to get things right, all interacting with each other and parish personnel balancing their responsibilities and integrating their faith into their lives.

        C’mon, EWTN. Enough of the charismatics, fake-kool youth shows, and Raymond Arroyo promoting his weird friends and sucking up to big shots.

        • Dan Sealana

          I wouldn’t DREAM of showing “Life On The Rock” to the teens at my church.

          • Faithr

            Sometimes they have excellent speakers on, though. They may not be groovy but the show does have substance. You might be underestimating the teens at your church. In the right context, even teens hunger for truth and can get past the goofiness of the delivery.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            So true – I try to watch and I want to like the show but . . . no. I don’t imagine it would engage many teenagers.

        • Eugene Edward Yeo

          I want to see a special on the East and West all getting together to buy and restore to working order Hagia Sophia. I will give every penny I have and every penny I will make from now till the day I die if this show happens.

      • dustinfaber

        +1

        • TheodoreSeeber

          Hint- the up arrow under the post does this.

          • dustinfaber

            I know what the up arrow does.

            Hint: The +1 was a compliment to this person’s comment.

    • Anham Mahna

      I’m Mexican (100%), and while we did produce our show in Spanish, it wasn’t accepted (my Spanish isn’t Spain Spanish, but Latin American Spanish, and they don’t like that over at EWTN).

  • Mynamedontwearitout

    Yep, count me in on this The couple that used to do “The Catholics Next Door” radio show, Greg & Jennifer Willits, did a really cute sitcom pilot that EWTN should have snapped up in a heartbeat. Sadly, they did not.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      I agree, EWTN missed the boat on that one.

      • Eliana Marsella

        Kat, do you know an Irish sitcom called Father Ted? You can find several episodes on YouTube. It’s hilarious, in a very Irish way…

        • TheodoreSeeber

          It is, but he sure rooms with a bunch of heretics.

          • Mary Cambridge

            That would be an ecumenical matter.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            As I remember, it was a repentance matter- all three of the priests had been sent to Cragy Island for their individual sins- Fr. Ted’s gambling and embezzlement, Drugal(sp?)’s “Blackrock Incident, in which many were harmed”, and Fr. Jack’s alcoholism/womanizing.

          • Mary Cambridge

            Sorry Theodore, that’s just a quote from the series. I treat Father Ted kind of like Monty Python…sometimes I just throw random quotes out there. PS..it’s Fr. Dougal .

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

          Love Fr. Ted. My favorite expletive is “feck off”.

    • Dan Sealana

      To clarify: The Willits’ “Mass Confusion” pilot was produced by CatholicTV out of Boston and not EWTN.

      • Ken H.

        It seems that CatholicTV from Boston does have a lot of “variety” type of programming. Some good shows – but you get tired of the attempts to be “funny” and sometimes just want some good, solid Catholic programming. There are both options with EWTN and CatholicTV. The “Mass Confusion” pilot was good, and I love the Willits’ and the Barrons dearly, but I don’t know how that pilot would have translated into a longer series of shows?

        I, personally, have enough “entertainment” at Masses (“live” ones, not televised), with the priests trying their best to be great emcees and entertainers, but often falling short of a great, reverent Mass celebration. I’ll take many shows on EWTN for their seriousness and depth (although I’ll admit that I’ve gone away from watching much TV at all these days.)

  • Jenny Hamilton

    Love it!

  • Julia

    It’s as if all the shows were made for radio. I have no problem driving in my car and listening to those talk shows. But man, put them on TV… it really doesn’t translate.

    • Nan

      That’s’ because Mother Angelica grew up without tv.

  • Quittin’ time at Tara!

    I wonder at the actual percentage of Catholics working at EWTN? I want a “Frasier” type sitcom with Fr. Z as the star. His nemesis would be a lady Vicar of Dibley type from the Church down the street. And his drunken bishop.

    • bob

      You don’t need writers to make the Anglican down the street look bizarre, just quote verbatim from the numerous blogs and public utterances available a click away.

  • Mary E.

    A reality series which follows the daily life of the Swiss Guards.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Oh, yes. Lawdy yes!

      • Faithr

        My daughter spent a semester in Rome and went on a retreat at the same time and place as the Swiss Guards. Her retreat was all girls, but they’d pass the Swiss Guards on their way to eat and see them at Mass and such. She said: Mom! The Swiss Guards are so good looking!!! It’s like it is a requirement or something!

    • Anham Mahna

      That would be amazing. I want to be the camera person for that show.

  • Faithr

    I think it comes down to money. It is way, way easier to just video guys talking around a coffee table than do the stuff you are suggesting. They are great, funny ideas but my impression is that it takes lots and lots of money to make high quality shows with talented actors, etc. etc. The money isn’t there. They don’t advertise so they have to live off donations and endowments. Maybe we should start a Better Catholic TV Charity and raise money for them!

    • Hannah Russell

      This was my thought, too. They would need cameras, microphones, editing software, crew, staff to manage everyone, money for traveling expenses… that could all add up really fast. We’re talking thousands, if not millions of dollars. Unless people wanted to donate equipment, time, talent, etc…

      • Anham Mahna

        Equipment is extremely inexpensive nowadays. Travel is not, which is why my series is sputtering. But we can produce our show on a shoestring, and have for two seasons.

    • Mindy Smith

      There has been some very creative stuff coming from some Catholic communications students, especially in schools like John Paul the Great in California. EWTN could tap into some of that talent. Students produce on a shoestring, too, but they’d do it for the experience. And some of the student films look professional, and are quite whimsical. The kids their get a solid Catholic education- they know their stuff.

    • Dan Sealana

      It’s not about the money. It’s about them being stubborn and not wanting to try new things.

  • AMoniqueOcampo

    I love your humor, Kat! I would also love to be part of your version of EWTN. Except I would do a web series comedy about young adults discerning vocations.

  • tj.nelson

    I would like to see a Hollywood Squares knock off with funny Catholic apologists. Oh wait – there aren’t any.

    • Charles

      Uh, have you tried Dr. John Zmirak and his “Bad Catholics’ Guide to…” series? Deadly funny.

    • GoodCatholicGirl

      Catholic Jeopardy

  • Jennifer Serafica

    I totally agree and I believe it doesnt require much money to make it exciting. The videos on youtube and vine dont require big budgets…just creativity and know how. I would gladly watch fuzzy, low budget, homemade tv with good catholic content. Another idea: a reality show/documentary following catholics of different vocations (married, single, priest, nun, etc) and their journey to sainthood.

  • Teresa Grodi

    Okay, so being a historian, I’m always looking for the application for the ideal. I don’t disagree that, as a 20-something, recent college grad, much of the programing on EWTN bores me to death (of course NOT the Journey Home…seriously, I love that show ;) but the reality is that people like myself or the author of this article need to be the ones who selflessly brainstorm, pitch, fundraise, pitch, and then help carry out this new programing. EWTN does not have the budget of FOX… Not even close. We love reading those stories about Mother Angelica just starting up and having EWTN running on a wing and a prayer, but the reality is, they STILL run on that decades later! They are not rich, and people like us – who watch ETWN for free and never donate – may complain, but beggars can’t be choosers. If everyone who shared this article picked up their phone or popped by the EWTN website and made a one-time $5 donation and then made their programming desires known, we might actually get somewhere. The people that you see on EWTN have made HUGE personal sacrifices to put together programming on the air – people with (at the time) young kids and families. We need to put our money where our mouth is. If we want up-to-date Catholic programming, WE HAVE TO MAKE A CHANGE!!! I challenge people who want to to start a Facebook group to brainstorm this idea out, poole resources, and come up with a solution (add me please)! EWTN isn’t a “them” that we review from a distance, it’s OUR CATHOLIC FAITH!

    • Casey

      This was brilliantly said and right on target! Personally, I like quite a bit of the programming on EWTN, but I have read some interesting ideas for new shows in the original article and the comments. Producing a TV show of any kind requires talent, money, and effort. If someone has an idea for a show, that’s great! Maybe God expects that someone to do something more than just complain about what they don’t like and wish for what they want. DO SOMETHING about it!

      • Dan Sealana

        Oh, but many of us HAVE tried to do something about it but have had the doors slammed in our faces by the EWTN-type folks. I could tell you stories.

        • Anham Mahna

          Totally agree with Dan’s comment. Many have tried and failed.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      You can start with donating to this: http://keyrowpictures.com/ordinary/ Not only a good idea for a Catholic sitcom, but a bit of time travel/reminiscing inoved (narated by the main character thinking back over nearly two decades of service to the Church from 2130) and he’s releasing it under Creative Commons licensing so EWTN will be able to broadcast it for free.

      • Faithr

        I actually kinda, sorta know these folks. They were receiving donations via kickstarter a while back.

      • Anham Mahna

        Sounds interesting! Tell them to put some teasers up!

    • Ken H.

      Teresa – are you related to Marcus Grodi?

  • Jeanne G.

    There’s Fr. Leo’s cooking show. I love him! Not that I’ve seen the show… I can’t figure out when (if?) it’s on.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      That’s another issue I have…. their scheduling is all over the place.

  • Dan Sealana

    Oh lord… **breathe** — DO NOT GET ME STARTED. My first radio stint was at an EWTN-affiliate radio station. I can’t speak for the “home office,” but the people I worked for locally had NO interest in producing “entertainment.” They thought that being entertaining in Catholic media was demeaning and that those who try to be entertaining (such as the folks on Sirius Catholic Channel) should stop. I heard this directly from my bosses.

    I assume most people who work (or volunteer) for EWTN TV and radio are good people who love the Church. But what they produce indicates a severe lack of media awareness and competence.

    • Dan Sealana

      BTW: You can be a wonderful, generous Catholic without having one entertaining bone in your body. You just shouldn’t work in media.

  • brnicolosi

    It doesn’t come down to money. A few years back I brought them some Catholic TV writers who were willing to write a Catholic family drama. These folks had means and they were willing to fundraise to pay for the first season. EWTN would have none of it. They kept saying, “That’s not what we do here.” and “Mother never did that.” My sense is, they are doing what they know how to do and they are averse to having to broaden the circle of personnel and skills to do more and better.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Ah. I see. Following the Vatican model of efficiency.

    • Dan Sealana

      Unfortunately, this was my experience on the EWTN-affiliate radio side, as well. The Powers That Be seemed to think the that the only two legitimate Catholic radio formats were long-form interview and Q&A apologetics. Anything resembling “entertainment” was unfit for our dignified airwaves.

      You’re absolutely right. It’s NOT about the money. It’s “We don’t do that here.”

  • MBB

    How about a wacky sitcom about the adventures of a single Catholic trying to live out her faith? Apartment building, crazy neighbors . . . it practically writes itself!!

  • Aloysius Churchgate

    I suggest an “Apprentice” type show with Cardinal Doland in the role of Donald Trump. The contestants can be priests, and the winner gets to be an Auxiliary Bishop in NYC. Nothing like priests fighting for a pointy hat to add a little fun to EWTN!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Brilliant.

    • Charles

      Dolan’s dance card is filled. I hear Fabian Bruskewitz has some free time, and that I’d pay to watch.

  • Mindy Smith

    EWTN has some excellent shows and some dry ones. I quite like it. Though a “what not to wear to Mass” sounds wickedly delightful, LOL.

    At any rate, EWTN does have some good shows and it seems to be much stronger as far as quality shows than I seem to recall quite a few years ago.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    You left out Catholic drama and comedies.

    I’ll admit the standard fare (Fr. Dowling Mysteries- based loosely on Chesterton’s Fr. Brown; and comedies like Bless Me Father from the BBC) are often a bit heterodox, but there’s no reason they can’t be done orthodox.

    _My Little Angels_, if redone as an adult sitcom with more time spent with Father and the nuns than the children, would be wonderful.

    • GoodCatholicGirl

      I don’t know how old you are (we’ve answered each other on Bad Catholic, btw) but do you remember a TV show called “Insight”? It was on when I was in high school and was produced by Paulists, if I remember correctly. The shows were short dramas that I image appealed to a large audience, not just Catholics because the stories weren’t at all “hokey” I remember one episode where Beau Bridges was a sort of hippie/Jesus character who wanders into a weekly poker game being played by a group of men, one being Carroll O’Connor, later known as Archie Bunker!

      • TheodoreSeeber

        Hmm, was contemporary with my growing up (I was 15 when they stopped taping it) but I don’t remember it ever playing in my area.

        Of course, back then I was more into cartoons and Star Trek, than anything religious.

        According to Wikipedia, it was a syndicated show, which means it would have been on Channel 12 in the Portland Area (the only independent station back then, which became Fox, then UPN, then WB, then back to Fox).

        I’ll have to see if there are any episodes on Youtube. A lot of TV from back then has made it there.

  • michelletherese

    So it’s not just me?! I love love love EWTN… I just can’t stand to watch it 95% of the time.

    I was beginning to think that my soul was scitsophrenic…

  • Joseph Moore

    This is great. Brainstorming Catholic TV! Here’s my pitch: How about some science fiction?

    There are at least 4 great Catholic SciFi writers that I know of working today: Mike Flynn, Jerry Pournelle, John C. Wright and Gene Wolfe. A couple ways to deploy their considerable talents on TV with Catholic takes on:

    - Twilight Zone: Surreal situations that present moral challenges to be figured out by the people thrust into them. Note that this is really what Rod Serling was doing much of the time on the original.

    - Father to the Stars (too bad Phillip Jose Farmer died a couple years back – that’s a title from one of his books). steal the concept from Flynn’s Efelheim: Aliens land in 14th century Germany, and come across a parish priest who is one of those new-fangled Thomists, who defends and protects them – and converts some of them. They then venture back into space. Not sure if together, they fight crime or hilarity ensues.

    Actually, since TV has been 95% recycling since about 1955, take just about any concept and imagine what it would look like with a couple truly catholic characters. This is the world we’re stuck in, after all. TV just pretends we don’t exist.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      And for a movie of the week, The Canticle for St. Leibowitz!

  • echarles1

    I concur in part and dissent in part. That aside, if you want to see how a religious channel can be more entertaining, tune to BYUTV. I can think of a few shows on there that are entertaining and fun. I watch them and think ‘Why can’t EWTN make these?’ My examples are Granite Flats, Studio C, Story Trek, and the Song that Changed My Life. Not strictly speaking shows on religion but all shows that entertain in a wholesome way consistent with religious belief.

  • michicatholic

    Catholics are neither very real nor very relatable. A person can be Catholic for years and never have a meaningful conversation with any other Catholic. Maybe what you’re really talking about is the natural relationship between natural relatives and friends here, and that would be a cradle Catholic thing.

    • Ken H.

      In my experience, some of the best conversations I’ve had with people are with good Catholic people. The problem is that they stay after Mass for a few minutes to offer prayers of thanksgiving, and by that time most of the people have left the scene. But in recent times we have found the group of people that don’t leave simultaneously with the “The Mass is ended, go in peace.” And they are some of the best people that I have met in church in a long time – very real, very relatable, and seriously good people to get to know!

  • Ron Turner

    I don’t know if an angel loses its wings, but I wish you would lose the apostrophe.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Every time there is a low budget production on the lives of a saint a grammar nazi is shot.

  • Julia

    For a show about the beer and wine made at Catholic monasteries around the world, “Spirits of the Church”.

    • Anham Mahna

      I LOVE this idea. Or a show–which I even pitched to EWTN–about religious communities that make things, like the nuns who make cheese, the monks who make coffee, the Spanish nuns who make those almond cookies, or the nuns who make the hosts for Communion. How interesting would that be?!

      Or what about a series showcasing each religious community. A day in the life of Discalced Carmelites, Benedictines, Dominicans. But not just any religious community. ONe who do or live in awesome places, like at Solesmes in France! Has anyone been there? It’s amazing.

      I’ve always loved the idea of a Catholic gardening show. Mary gardens are huge, and there are so many flowers that have religious meanings, aside from the fact that gardening is such wonderful work.

      • GoodCatholicGirl

        My goodness! Why would they have not taken your suggestions? They’re wonderful and (I feel a bit guilty for saying this) so much better than what is on EWTN now. Have you ever watched the movies they run on Saturday nights? Cringe-worthy!

  • Dreyrugr

    Every one of these suggestions are tasteful and approved by me. You and Zmirak should collaborate on a proposal to EWTN. I think they may listen.

  • Anham Mahna

    Wow. What a thread. I produce a show that is on EWTN.It’s called The Faithful Traveler. Anyone seen it? Catholic travel. We tried to be fun and lively. But in my experience, no one watches EWTN. Most Catholics I meet nowadays either dont watch the channel at all bc the shows are so bad/boring or, for the super Catholics out there, they dont even have tv or cable.

    My husband and i have recently begun researching creating our own channel on Roku, which can apparently be done for free. Does anyone else have one of these devices? (They sell them at Costco for about $150.) id love to create a whole new channel for everything that EWTN wont air.

    Anyone else game? Seriously.

    • Dan Sealana

      I think that would be a great idea!

      • Anham Mahna

        Well, we’re looking into making it happen. God knows how I’ll get the word out if we do, but He’ll help us, I’m sure. :)

    • Dan Sealana

      When I worked in EWTN-affiliated Catholic radio, the people I worked with were in huge denial about the fact that our programming attracted such a small audience. Yes, we had a very faithful and enthusiastic audience, but still a very small and very niche one. This seems to be EWTN TV’s problem, as well.

      • Anham Mahna

        When I last asked, EWTN did not even gather information about how many people watch any of their shows. We tried to get information about how many people were tuning in to watch TFT, but they said they “didn’t subscribe” to that information. Seems silly to me, but that is clearly not a priority.

        • Dan Sealana

          That was our situation on the radio side, too. We didn’t subscribe to Arbitron ratings, so we had no REAL idea how many listeners we had. Instead, we relied on anecdotal feedback from our donors, volunteers, etc., (which is, of course, a very skewed sample).

    • Rachel

      My husband and I are game. We want to promote good Catholic culture but we are limited to what sort of media we could use. This would be a good opportunity for those of us who want to promote Catholic culture that EWTN, etc won’t air :).

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Game. I had no idea you could do this and Roku is a pretty popular alternative to paying exorbitant cable fees.

      • Anham Mahna

        Right?! I just found out myself, too and was THRILLED. I recently signed up as a developer and downloaded everything to do it. Of course, you could do the same, but if you want to join forces, I’d love to. I’ve always loved your style. :)

  • Almario Javier

    Have to agree. Look, I like their Masses, Rosaries and other liturgical whatnot, but aside from the Fulton Sheen reruns, the programming leaves much to be desired. Perhaps a YouTube channel might be an economical way to do it. Someone already mentioned we have the talent at various Catholic universities – surely we can do something? I mean, I do get why EWTN seems to be the way it does – because in the end, that’s not what the Poor Clares do. We need an outlet that builds on the ground they have broken, but we can’t just rely on them.

    • Rachel

      its not the Poor Clares doing it anymore though. EWTN is run by laypeople who do seem out of date. The EWTN affiliated radio station we have here in my city caters mostly to the elderly. The programming is at least 5 to 10 years old :(. I agree that Bishop Sheen and the mass are the only good things on there. Why don’t they take a few pages out of Sheen’s book? The reason why he was so popular was because he could relate to the average person and he always started out with a (sometimes) lame but funny story to put people at ease. He also had a dramatic way of explaining the faith and he not only dealt with doctrine but also with history, philosophy, and relationships.

      • Almario Javier

        Precisely. Perhaps the fear is that if they become more ‘relevant’ there might be a temptation to ‘water down’ the faith? Remember, a lot of the persons in charge lived through the utter disaster of the ‘Buddy Christ’ era (which was marketed as making the Faith more relevant to young people), and perhaps they’re overcorrecting. There historically has been a tendency as to see anything smacking of mainstream entertainment as immoral, I think, partly for good reason, but asking for highbrow or middlebrow entertainment that also squares with Catholic teaching doesn’t mean we have to have Glee with a crucifix.

        When I heard that Minor Revisions was becoming a show on NET, I was happy even though I did’t watch it much (I prefer other genres in my television watching), simply because it was about someone living a somewhat normal Catholic life.

        One thing could be a Catholic Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! I mean, between Zmirak and Cardinal Dolan, well, actual Catholics actually have a sense of humor…

        • Anham Mahna

          I love Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!!

          • Almario Javier

            So do I. I love NPR, actually (despite being a registered Republican, but then, a lot of Republicans listen in, too) – I just change the channel when they talk about abortion or birth control. But the problem is a lot of people seem to think if we break out of the mold we risk diluting our orthodoxy, or diverting from The Cause (basically pro-life and other social justice issues). A lot of the people running Catholic broadcasting seem to think that propaganda (in the neutral sense of the word) must be blatant, otherwise diluted, in spite of the fact that this isn’t true of the other side, or even Catholic entertainment before the 60s (take Treasure Chest -even “This Godless Communism” was entertaining if a little lame at times).

          • Anham Mahna

            I used to listen to NPR all the time. I love their weekend edition, Wait Wait, and all the interesting things they’d discuss. I do get annoyed, however, by their programming on hot topics–LGBT issues, abortion, etc. Especially when they talk about Catholicism, it’s usually so skewed and misinformed. Cokie Roberts is hardly a good representative of our faith. Sure, every now and then they’d interview someone who actually knows and loves Catholicism, but I found that to be rare. I tried to not be overly sensitive, but around the time that Pope Benedict XVI resigned, I just shut it off and haven’t turned it back on. Their commentary was just so clueless. And I started to feel like their programming on LGBT issues was on a lot.

            But I agree. Everything doesn’t have to be hit-you-over-the-head Catholic to be effective. In fact, it’s most effective when it’s not.

          • Almario Javier

            To be fair, at least the affiliate (KVCR San Bernardino) I listen to doesn’t have that much coverage on LGBT issues. Most of the time it’s about musicians from war-torn countries, science, local politics (they covered the Republican congressman I worked for pretty fairly, and the man’s pretty conservative) and economics. The Santa Monica affiliate tends to be like what you describe, though, I think to make up for the fact that one of the presenters publically supported Prop 8 back in the day.

  • Anham Mahna

    I just wanted to add something else that occurred to me this morning, which I posted on my Facebook page (where we’re discussing this as well): My take has always been this: different strokes for different folks. Right? We are the Body of Christ, we can’t all be heads or hearts or feet. Some of us are veins and toenails and armpits. (LOL)
    What I mean is, current Catholic programming–and I’m including EWTN, Catholic TV, Salt & Light, etc–isn’t BAD per se. Hundreds of thousands of people LOVE it. And GOOD for them. I’m glad that EWTN and Catholic TV and Salt & Light exist and do what they do. They meet the spiritual needs of many and help raise their hearts and minds to God, and that’s AWESOME!

    What I have always thought, though, is that there are large swathes of the Catholic and non-Catholic population who would be served by other, more lively productions. Something more akin to what is on secular TV–in the STYLE of what is on secular TV–but in the heart of what is on these Catholic networks. That includes me. I would never denigrate the message of what is on Catholic programming now. I will say its production value and presentation style is not to my taste, but I would never say that just bc it isn’t to my taste it lacks merit (like others have done, and I think that’s wrong). Art and beauty ARE in the eye of the beholder. Who am I to say someone can’t like something.

    All I can say is that it doesn’t appeal to ME. And then I can try to do something about it. And I did. Maybe we made a mistake by airing our show on EWTN, since the people we were trying to reach don’t watch that network. Not that we don’t appreciate those who do watch, but it does sometimes feel like we’re preaching to the choir, and I’d love to do some evangelizing and teaching, you know? But who knows.

    I do think it’s a conversation we need to keep having until someone does something about it. Because large amounts of people are not being addressed in this type of media, and I think that’s a huge shame.

    That’s my take.

    • http://www.bringustolife.blogspot.com/ Scott Woltze

      I remember watching your show when it first came out. You have spunk, seem like a real person (rather than an on-air persona) and I remember wishing each episode was longer. I thought it was a breath of fresh air and maybe a sign that EWTN was moving in a more interesting direction. But alas. My wife and I finally went the way of many “super-Catholics” and saved $60 a month by cutting our cable. I hope you pursue a cheaper online channel and round up some of the talent that is out there. May God bless your efforts.

      • Anham Mahna

        Ah, Scott. You just made my day. :) thank you.

        I should note (I know you weren’t being overly sensitive, but just to make sure no one else is), I use the term “super Catholic” with love. I consider myself to be one, as are my three sisters, two of whome don’t have cable and who are often so busy raising their budding families, I have to beg them to take time out to watch my show. That said, if I weren’t producing a television show, I’d have gotten rid of my cable long ago, too.

  • CSmith

    Also, probably not the best branding to be called Ew TV ;)

  • Anham Mahna

    One last thing… I thought I’d post our website, in case anyone is interested in checking us out.

    http://www.thefaithfultraveler.com

    We have clips up, both from our first (rather green) series, and from our upcoming (and much better) series on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Check us out. Let me know what you think. Even if you email me and say, “Um… not my style, Diana,” it’s something. :)

    My favorite clip is here: https://vimeo.com/33197246

    And if anyone wants to email me regarding this new Catholic network we’re gonna create, I’m at dianaatthefaithfultraveler.com

    Seriously.

    • Rachel

      this show looks good :). Have you done the Medieval Pilgrimages in Europe (ie. Santiago de Compestela, Rome, etc?

      • Anham Mahna

        Thanks, Rachel!

        Short answer: no.

        Long answer: we originally created the show with an eye toward pilgrimages in the US. Since we produced it (and paid for it) ourselves, we figured this would be easiest. Plus, many don’t realize how many amazing pilgrimage sites we have here in the US. For instance, there are five in the Philadelphia area alone!

        We had hoped that the series would pay for itself, but that didn’t work out. We almost canned the show, but then we were asked to film a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Cardinal Rigali (then Archbishop of Philadelphia). So we went. EWTN has those episodes, and will hopefully decide soon as to whether or not they will air them. (I’m so proud of them.)

        We are now in the midst of deciding if the show has any future. I just prayed a novena to Our Lady of Mt Carmel, asking that God might show me if he just wants me to give up or sally forth. And if the latter, HOW. We can’t do anything without funding. It’s a fact of life. Travel, hotels, production people cost money.

        We’re looking into becoming a nonprofit, so we can apply for grants. But even then, we aren’t guaranteed of receiving any. But that’s my last shot. If that doesn’t work, I’m giving up. But at least I can say that I tried, and I put a lot of money, blood, sweat, and tears into my attempt.

        I’d LOVE to shoot Santiago de Compostela, Rome, and the bazillion other places that have amazing Catholic sites of history and faith. But without the funds to do so, we’re not going anywhere.

  • Rachel

    I love the idea of branching out and rethinking what Catholic programming should look like. My one concern is that by co-opting some of the secular type programming (ie. reality shows, etc) that it would come off being cheesy and lame instead of actually interesting and enjoyable but I guess there is always that fine line there.

    • Anham Mahna

      I don’t think reality TV is necessarily the way to go. Networks have chosen that method of programming for one reason: it’s CHEAP. But while these shows garner a lot of hype, many people just aren’t watching them. I would argue that there are just as many people who DON’T want to see reality TV and the human train-wrecks that it features, as there are who do. The key is creating something worth watching. And giving those who can create it the motivation to do so. One of my biggest frustrations is that, despite my greatest efforts to create our show, no one knows that it exists.

      • Rachel

        that’s a shame though. I’m watching some clips from your show and its well done. Perhaps its not as well known because it was on EWTN? I understand about money though. My husband and a friend of his has started a band (they lives in different states so everything is mostly done online) but trying to find an audience for the music is proving difficult which it is also a shame since they wrote some good music. I dunno, it just seems there is a lot of apathy about promoting and cultivating good Catholic culture, etc in this country and EWTN/others have inadvertently encouraged that since it seems that in order to have faithful Catholic programming, it must be serious all the time. I understand that we need to be informed about life issues and apologetics but that is not what we are completely about, right? Is it that we as Catholics are confused as to what Catholic culture, etc looks like or is it just the obstacles are great and overcoming them is daunting. It can be very discouraging.

        • Anham Mahna

          Thanks! And thanks for checking it out.

          We worked with a lot of awesome Catholic musicians in our first season, and they all have the same trouble getting the word out about their music. And it’s not all “religious” sounding, either. Popple is a great example of some awesome, fun guys who put out fun music that happens to have a Catholic/Christian message. I never used to listen to Christian music before I produced that first season, but after discovering those musicians, I do more frequently now.

          The thing is, faith can be taught by lecture and talking heads, sure, but it sos much more effective, i think, when it’s taught by story or images. Look at the amazing cathedrals, like the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in NJ, that teach our faith through the method of stained glass. I love that. Or the Cathedral of La Sagrada Famiglia in Barcelona, every inch of which is a symbol or image pointing to God. Effective AND mesmerizing!

          • Rachel

            exactly. It is more effective to use art/music, culture, etc to proclaim the Faith. Just look at the Classics. Many of them worked from a Christian world view but they didn’t have the label “Christian” or “Catholic”. Instead, they just put out good art which is what we are supposed to do. Its not just about putting out good art. Someone who I enjoy reading is Steve Greydanus who does movie reviews at decent films. com. He and one other guy does a short show called Reel Faith but I don’t think it would ever be picked up by EWTN so they have it somewhere else. They review movies from a Catholic perspective, not necessarily focusing on how many cuss words/violence/sex there is in a movie but actually focusing on content. That’s the sort of stuff I would like to see on channels like EWTN, etc but they don’t have anything like that :(. Its sad really because its such a wasted opportunity.

          • Anham Mahna

            Agreed. :)

  • Anham Mahna

    An interesting article on the future of TV. Its all gonna be online, folks. The time to create your own network is now. :)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/17/business/media/google-is-said-to-mull-internet-cable-service.html?_r=1&

  • Thomas Marbson

    Have a look at SQPN.com , they producing shows which look an awful lot like quite a few of the ideas floating here in these comments…

  • Asbury Fox

    I would have to actually disagree on the televised Masses. It’s just so obvious that the small chapel used for their liturgies was never meant to be the right venue for televised Masses. It’s a very small chapel with an unsightly free standing altar. Masses should be televised from a large beautiful church. The kind of church they built for this purpose, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, with its high altar, beautiful sanctuary, and altar rail. It’s time for EWTN to push hard on getting its daily Mass televised there.

  • Jay

    Enjoyed the article. I’ve been of similar mind for years now. I’ve had so many ideas for better programing…I just don’t get it. I have lost all interest in watching EWTN. The restoration of christian culture begins with poetics (classically, broadly defined as literature, music, plays, film, etc). Beauty moves and persuades and is worth every talk show and apologetics discussion in the world. Someone rightly mentioned below that Fulton Sheen is the only show they are willing to watch. But why is Fulton Sheen’s show still so superior to every other show on EWTN? I submit that it is because there is something majestic and beautiful about him, his way of delivering a story, his manner, grace, charm…he is captivating and it is difficult to turn away from him. With all due respect and gratitude for their noble efforts, not so with the rest of the programming on EWTN, it is stiff and dry, and painfully boring. The article gets at this point when it speaks of the joy and beauty of the Faith, and how it is not being fairly conveyed. And the comment about Catholic films is spot on. They are absolutely terrible 95% of the time, and generally prove to be an embarrassment.

    Another difficulty hinted at in the article, and many of the comments, is the fallacious assumption that on a Catholic programming network, everything needs to be explicitly Catholic, or people sitting around a table talking about things Catholic all the time. On many occasions, this is exactly what I often do not want when I flip on the tube. As a teacher at a Catholic school, I do that all day, and I when I come home, I want a break, I want to be entertained and inspired, but I don’t want to watch the garbage on most of the major broadcasting networks.

    Good recommendations for programming. An idea I had for programming: Perhaps a show that follows a priest who is either a chaplain in the military during a war, or a priest in a large city who is constantly on call for emergencies, administering sacraments, etc. If done well, it could be gripping, dramatic, and possibly inspire vocations. Or perhaps follow a missionary of charity in the slums, or maybe both ideas at once. I also really like the idea of a Michael Wood-style travel show to shrines, beautiful churches, medieval castles. There are so many other good ideas, they are too many to name. So what gives? Are the powers that be at EWTN really as obstinate as some of the commenters claim?

  • rgenini

    I have a feeling EWTN will still be making countless converts every day while those who whine about the programming have just switched channels to something more with it.

  • http://suscipesanctepater.blogspot.com/ Matt Roth

    These aren’t bad ideas!

  • Jeni

    SO GOOD. The end. Seriously though EWTN–this! please!


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