{concerning marriage} entertainment

{Yesterday I shared about the crazy process of planning for a wedding and life, and today I have some suggestions about the media’s vision of marriage. Be sure to check out the first post and watch for a few more coming!}

Several years ago I started watching Glee, which made sense because I’m a musician and lots of my friends watched it and wanted to talk about it. But I had to stop watching when the choir director was part of a subplot developing positive romantic tension with another teacher instead of his wife. My best friend was in the middle of getting divorced even though they were homeschooled, parentally-approved, rule-following, supposedly all set for life, bla-bla-bla. (Remember that planning thing? Not foolproof.) I knew that no matter how atrocious the original wife was portrayed, the show was selling a lie that marriage or divorce aren’t a big deal. The pain for a one-flesh-tearing-asunder that wasn’t even mine didn’t feel fun or entertaining, and the experience profoundly changed how I thought about TV and movies.

It’s not a surprise that Christian marriage is counter cultural.  A religiously-oriented life of permanent sacrifice and fidelity is perceived as an attack on freedom in a world that worships the profane trinity of me, myself, and I, and our entertainment reflects this. When you watch commercials, women are often caricatured with artificial physical beauty and men are mocked as idiots. This Discover commercial…? Rude! It would be really offensive if the genders were reversed. 

When you get back to the regular programming, romantic leads on a TV show “can’t get married” because it “ruins the tension” of the show. So unrealistic. Legitimate marriage has plenty of tension. Married or single, chances of building a good life are better if you avoid passively receiving the idea that marriage is a joke, or that a romantic high is the ultimate fulfillment of your existence. I’m not going to tell you what not to watch! But I think negativity about marriage and family slipping under the radar poses a greater danger of messing up a life than most straightforward steamy scenes or course joking. With that in mind, here are a few movies and TV shows I’ve found encouraging…

1. The Sound of Music. Watch how Maria and Georg transform through the story, growing as individuals and strengthening each other while caring for their family and living bravely in adversity.
2. The Harry Potter Series – Molly and Arthur Weasley, parents of Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, Ron, and Ginny. This is a great couple who built a life of modest means overflowing with love and respect for each other.
3. The King’s Speech. So much appreciation and encouragement! And a story of personal growth that happens in the strength of their day-in-day-out marriage, not a fantasy relationship.
4. Julie & Julia. Apparently this all falls apart in her second book, but the movie is really sweet and shows two different married couples building each other up in love and encouraging each other to be their best self.
5. Shadowlands. Kind of corny, but this is a great look at love and loss from the life and writings of C.S. Lewis and his wife, Joy Davidman.
6. Father of the Bride I and II. Also corny in a different way, but hilarious and positive. There are lots of real-ish life fights and making up, and a commitment to a lifetime of love throughout.
7. Duck Dynasty. All the married couples here have lots of fun joking around and showing that marriage is worthwhile, exciting, and meaningful. (Also, if you ever think your husband is gross, this show will give you a good dose of perspective. Or maybe that’s just me.)
8. The Office – Jim and Pam Halpert. This couple has always been a favorite because their romance was based on friendship and personal connection, not an immediate physical fling. Especially in this last season, their heartfelt reconciliation after months (years?) of hurt feelings, which resulted in some marriage counseling and a conscious choice to live out 1 Corinthians 13, from a flashback of their wedding, with each other was beautiful. 

Is there plenty of trash on the show? Yes. (I totally watched all the seasons anyway. I’m not telling what to watch or not watch.) But how often do you see mainstream media showing the key to succeeding in marriage is to be patient, kind, forgiving, humble, hoping the best for each other, and not failing no matter how hard it is? How often do you see a “couple” saying they have worked together every day for 9 years (a Hollywood eternity)  and their family is the most important thing in their lives? That all happened on network television during the last season, and I think it’s encouraging.

Jim and Pam

A rare attitude coming from network TV!

I’m sure this list could be much longer! Are there any other ideas for refreshing and uplifting marriages in entertainment from you guys? I mean besides the most obvious suggestion, which would be a reality TV show of the two of us, of course. iowa movie

6 thoughts on “{concerning marriage} entertainment

  1. DUCK DYNASTY FOREVER. Love them and their squirrel eating marriages so much!

    I would add several of the couples on the show Parenthood, which you should start now.

    As for that last photo…please get the pilot rolling NOW.

    • Concerning Duck Dynasty – yes. Also, the fact that the grandparents joke about their intimate life a little bit? It’s a little weird, but it’s going to be on every show. We might as well celebrate everything as God intended, I think.

      I tried to put Jack and Terrie Bauer on here but I just… couldn’t. He’s great but it’s a bit of a stretch to call that an excellent marriage to imitate.

  2. Enjoyed this post, Abby.

    I was also going to say Parenthood. I totally wept watching it last night, during a scene about the enduring love of marriage. It’s just a great show. It starts out dealing with adultery, but never portrays it in a good light and shows the revulsion and anger it brings to the rest of the family. Its treatment of pre-marital sex is pretty Hollywood-standard, but its treatment of marriage is way above average in my opinion — maybe because the show is about parenting and someone finally recognized how important it is to have two parents doing the parenting.

    • That sounds interesting! Thanks for the suggestion. Yep, I’m not even touching the Hollywood-standard premarital sex issue. (It’s definitely an issue in Julie & Julia, Father of the Bride, and The Office.) It’s touchy because, yes, that matters, but I guess if you had to choose between watching a couple that didn’t “follow the rules” at first but is committed to loving each other strongly and well or a couple that is cranky at each other’s throats all the time, I’m going to pick the first one. Maybe just going on a walk with my husband would be a better use of time than either option, but it’s harder to juggle the popcorn bowl that way.

Comments are closed.