After several seasons of seeming to celebrate the dark side in shows like Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, The Walking Dead and even Lucifer, Hollywood seems to be turning on a little light. This spring, a new crop of TV shows are popping up with surprisingly optimistic premises.
The new Disney comedy, Alexa and Katie focuses on two teen best friends. When one is diagnosed with cancer, they team up to fight the big C in every way possible.
Life Sentence is a new CW dramedy about a young woman who lived for years with a terminal cancer diagnosis only to learn she’s been cured. And now her family has to reveal some personal truths they’d been holding back for her benefit. Meanwhile, she’s finally learning to live a life with consequences.
Living Biblically is a new CBS comedy about a man whose impending fatherhood and the sudden death of his best friend lead him to make some drastic changes. He’s going live his life one hundred percent according to the bible. And it’s making a lot of people around him uncomfortable.
And this past Easter Sunday, NBC broadcasted a live production of Jesus Christ Superstar with John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Alice Cooper.
Of course, that’s just television. The movie industry is also seeing a Christian insurgence. We’re used to the occasional Passion of the Christ-esque film. But a rather profitable Christian market also currently services 90 million consumers. And although it originally focused on DVD sales, websites and Walmart to reach its target audience, it has started dipping into mainstream theatres too.
Surprise box office hits Heaven Is Real and 2016’s Miracles from Heaven managed to snag the star-power of Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Garner, respectively. This helped grease the way for more Christian productions.
And recently, I Can Only Imagine, which tells the story behind a popular Christian rock song, earned a box office haul of $38 million in just 10 days and shows little sign of slowing down. This has led to the re-release of the 2014 film God’s Not Dead in theatres also.
So why the re-direct? Obviously, ratings and the box office are key. If it makes money, Hollywood will produce it. But why are more people watching more optimistic fair now?
Maybe it’s because the media has gotten too dark. Maybe it’s become impossible to out-do the insanity of today’s news. Every day, people tune in to find out what’s gone wrong in the world since they went to bed. The violence, anger, suspicions and general fear of each other have hit all-time highs.
Ironically, for decades we revelled in those images of people behaving badly because it was just television or the movies. It wasn’t real life.
But to quote Bad Boys 2, “Sh_t just got real.” So now we need something else to revel in. Something hopeful. Something positive.
And Hollywood is apparently more than willing to supply it. As long as we’re buying what they’re selling.