The temperature in Hell may be plummeting, as I am about to agree with the American Family Association, which has sounded the trumpets against The Book of Daniel, saying the NBC show “mocks Christianity.” Usually I dismiss out of hand the rants of an organization committed to preserving a very narrow definition of “family values,” one that seems to leave little room for the complexities of real family life. So I sat down to watch the show on Friday with an open mind, confident that the AFA couldn’t possibly appreciate a satire based on a church family. But I found myself strangely offended. (I think I should note here that I find South Park—which routinely takes down a variety of institutions, including the Catholic Church—hilarious.) The Book of Daniel seems to make life a little too complex. A gay son, a drug-dealing daughter, an alcoholic wife, an adulterous dad, a mom with Alzheimer’s and a lesbian secretary who not only takes up with Daniel’s sister-in-law but may be in cahoots with his brother, who recently took off with $1 million in church funds. Good old Dan is addicted to Vicodin, and his friend the Catholic priest, an Italian American, is naturally tied to the mob. Had the writers lifted the veil more slowly, perhaps their characters would have come off as sympathetic, complex and human. Instead, they’re amoral cartoon cutouts that seem to reflect a blue-state backlash against religion in America.
—Posted by Deanna Zammit
Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC