Owing to less-than-stellar ratings, CBS’ faith-themed “Living Biblically” has been pulled from the network’s Monday schedule, to be replaced by reruns of “Big Bang Theory.” Is this because secularists and atheists raised a campaign to discredit the show and drive it from the air?
No. According to the show’s creator, Patrick Walsh, the most negativity he got on social media was from Christians.
I have found the show — which focuses on a lapsed Catholic’s (Jay R. Ferguson) attempt to reform his life by living by Biblical principles, with a Catholic priest (Ian Gomez) and rabbi (David Krumholtz) as guides — charming, funny and respectful to faith and am sorry that all of the episodes made may not air.
No doubt, the fact that one of executive producers, Johnny Galecki, is a star of “Big Bang Theory” had something to do with CBS’ choice to pick up the show, but Galecki said at a press event that all the networks expressed interest.
The fate of “Living Biblically” has not yet been decided, and it could return to air its remaining episodes at some point, but the prospects of a second season don’t currently look good.
So, a network picks up a show that has fun with faith but doesn’t make fun of it, that expounds upon Biblical principles to a mainstream audience (including the ways they can make life better), and the most online backlash received is from … well, I’ll let Walsh tell you himself.
Contacted for comment, he wrote:
We had a small (for CBS, anyway) fan base, and it was really great to hear from people who were touched by it or had a good laugh each week. And I really do think the best episodes are the ones that didn’t air so I’m hoping they see the light of day!
Asked if he would answer some questions, Walsh agreed. Here are the results:
Did you achieve everything you wanted to, in the episodes produced?
Not at all, I think there are tons more stories to tell.
What was the reaction you received did any of it surprise you?
Got every possible reaction on the show.
Most gratifying were from the people who laughed, were moved by it, saw themselves in it, understood what we were trying to do.
Most annoying was the constant onslaught of “they’re calling Christians stupid! They think God is a joke! Boycott!” from people who had clearly not seen it or saw a bad promo and made up their mind.
That was the bulk of what I saw online, and it was very disappointing.
Are you considering seeking any other outlets for the series?
We’re not “officially” canceled so those discussions haven’t happened.
Would you tackle this topic again?
I would absolutely not tackle religion again.
That last statement is especially disappointing. Many (including me) complain that positive depictions of Christianity and Christians are rare in mainstream entertainment. Then when one appears, apparently it is insufficiently pious for some folks.
Goodness, people, not everything is going to be “Jesus of Nazareth.” While I loved the miniseries, I don’t want everything to be that, either. Christians may be people of the Bible, but the Bible doesn’t encompass all of Christian history or activity.
Christians are in all walks of life, live in all parts of the country, and many, believe it or not, enjoy a laugh, even at themselves (provided it’s not mean-spirited). I thought “Living Biblically” was a good sign, certainly a world better than ABC’s ill-intended “The Real O’Neals.”
I commend CBS executives for picking up the show and hope this won’t scare them off trying the topic again.
Christians can’t simultaneously complain that they’re not being portrayed positively, and then complain — often without even sampling the show — when they are.
Thanks to Galecki, Walsh and CBS for having the guts to give it a go!
UPDATE 4/27: Among the reactions to this piece was a comment from Tony Rossi, communications director of Catholic media organization The Christophers, who wrote:
I haven’t seen every episode, but I thought the priest and rabbi were awesome and could almost sustain their own show. It’s certainly worth keeping around.
There’s a difference between “making fun of religion” and “having fun WITH religion.” From the episodes I’ve seen of “Living Biblically,” it falls into the latter category. It shows that people of faith can and should have a sense of humor about ourselves, all while conveying a positive message about the human need to connect with God.