“Studio 60″ Tries To Head Off Christians At The Pass

Published 9 years ago by

This is less of a review than a commentary of the new NBC show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Technically I have to say the show is very well done, but here I tend to combine both content and execution of a TV show or movie when discussing it, and the content of the show puts me off.

The premise of the series is that it shows the backstage workings of a network show that is Saturday Night Live in everything but name. It stars Matthew Perry (of Friends fame), Amanda Peet and a bunch of other recognizable faces. The upshot is that the show has gone downhill since two producers left the show four years ago, and that it has been choked by the “suits” in the name of political correctness.

So, the producers are brought back (one of them being Perry) by the new president of the network, Amanda Peet. Now the tipping point for the show was the fact that the network guy who determines what can and can’t go on the show, denied the previous producer the option of airing a skit called “Crazy Christians”. That particular producer loses it and goes on a live-on-the-air tirade along the lines of the old movie Network, and although he also rails on the level of crap that’s on TV today, he concludes by referring to religions as “psycho-relgious cults”. The new president of the network makes her first promise to the returned producers that they can do the skit on the following week.

Now as far as I’m concerned, everyone can be a target for a comedy skit, but after watching three episodes of Studio 60, the only consistent target I saw on the show was (can you guess?): Christians. Oh sure, they threw in a few other religions in there for one skit, but the whole jist of all three episodes was that religion is oppressive and ignorant. They do have one character on the show who is Christian, and prays with her castmembers before each show, but that struck me as a token effort to show “the other side”.

Now the interesting thing about this is that one of their main plotlines over three episodes had to do with Christians boycotting and being outraged by the idea of a skit called “Crazy Christians”, before they’d even seen it. The reason I find it interesting is because now any criticism of the show due to it’s content can automatically be labeled as ironic and an example of exactly what they’re talking about (in their minds, anyway).

Now I really did try to keep an open mind about the show (I sat through three episodes, after all) and except for their targeting of religion, I actually found it very well done. I kept thinking that this would pass and they’d move on to other aspects of what it’s like to produce a show of this type.

Unfortunately, about 2/3 of the way through the 3rd episode came a line from the president of the network that was my signal that I wouldn’t be watching the show anymore: “What percentage of Studio 60‘s audience do I need to maintain in order to keep playing tough with the Christian Right?”

Sorry folks, but for me that was the one that broke the camel’s back, following on everything else that has happened on the show. I may be playing into their hands with this commentary, but the fact that they set it up to look that way makes me not care.

As the network president said on the show: “Don’t they know how to change the channel?”

Why yes… I certainly do.

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Well all religions are symptoms of the same sort of delusion, so yes… oppressive and ignorant about sums it up.

  2. Honestly I don’t think they are taking cheap shots at Christians. It is a plot line and thus it will be there for a bit through out the episodes. They are also taking shots (starting this week) at the republicans.

    I think they are showcasing two huge issues that affect them (them being the suits at a tv station). The show is bringing more light to something that is already known by people that are in the entertainment industry – you can’t please everyone.

    An example of recent issue that networks had to deal with: Cold Case gets fined an absurd amount (like over 1million) for a REPEAT episode that had a scene that depicted underage sex. Said episode had a lower rating than the original that aired and zero people called when the episode originally aired. The people that called to complain said they never even saw the original episode, but were told to call in because someone else was offended by the scene, which they read about.

    As I said, I don’t think they are taking cheap shots, but actually bringing the studio audience into the issues they have to deal with.

  3. Anonymous (man, I just love how posts like those have no name or email attached to them),

    You are typical of the trolls of the online community. I would LOVE to see you at a bar or a party say that exact same thing to someone’s face who happened to believe in God.



  4. Brent,

    You know, sometimes I think I ought to save some posts as drafts before publishing. I wrote the above at 3AM, and since writing it I’ve decided that I could have polished it quite a bit and added some other thoughts. :P

    I understand your point, but what I don’t understand is why it used to be possible to be funny without being so damned offensive. It could be my personal perspective filtering my memories, but if you’re old enough to have seen “Saturday Night Live” back in it’s heyday (John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd, etc.) that show was HYSTERICAL and at the time it was cutting edge and I don’t remember it being so bloody offensive or gross.

    In ANY group there are those who take extreme positions and make the whole group look bad. Radical Muslims for example, but I don’t see anyone taking potshots at the Muslim religion.

    Personally I think that parents need to get their heads out of their butts and actually RAISE their children instead of just yelling and screaming at everyone else about how screwed up everything is. However, having said that, I think an apt analogy is that Hollywood is throwing tons of crap on the sidewalk and we’ve got to walk around it or find some way to avoid it. I guess the real question is: Why do people WANT crap on the sidewalk?


  5. I agree with your sentiments on Studio 60 Vic. As a Christian, the show bugs me. I’m not above having my faith criticized and scrutinized. In fact, I encourage it as long as it’s intelligent and forward moving towards some kind of *new* conclusion or theory. Studio 60 has doweled in nothing but stereotypes for three episodes now. We get it, Christians like to protest. Some of us are “crazy”. What a huge original statement on society, Mr Sorkin. What’s next? Jesus-types generally don’t like abortion? We worship a g-d we can’t physically see? We all hate evolution, support the president blindly and want to shoot all flag burners in the head?

    Booooring! The beauty of West Wing was its ability to setup stereotypes and then break them wide open in the most sensitive and entertaining of ways. Studio 60 has shown none of this ability. At least, not yet anyway. With the ratings so far, I doubt it will ever have time to prove it’s not as angry, one-sided and jaded as it looks to be several eps in.

  6. Melt,

    Yeah… If it had gone on for one or two episodes, fine. But three episodes? That makes me think it’s going to be a running plot point and I’m just not interested.


  7. Three epsiodes, how do you know the next one won’t deal with something else. I typically give 6 episode shots at something. I’m a lapsed catholic so, I don’t really have a problem with the christian stuff. I’m done with religion, I believe in God though, it’s one thing for someone to say f-ck god that bugs me a bit, but if they’re saying christians are crazy it’s not a big deal to me.

  8. Grundy,

    You’re right, they may very well completely shift gears next week, but they’ve annoyed me and now I won’t watch. 8)

    BTW, did anyone else find it idiotic that an atheist and a dedicated Christian would have thought that there was any chance of a long term relationship??


  9. Maybe this is just me, but whenever I see a “representation” or someone taking shots at a group (be it race, religion, politics, etc..) I don’t believe they are talking about the group as a whole. More so they are talking about those select few who make the group look bad. So when she said “What’s the percentage to keep fighting the Christian Right” I took that as that bad few who seem to shout the loudest. Of course I could be wrong and he (Sorkin) did mean to just completely bash and dump on the largest percentage religious group (note he said Christian not Catholic, Protestant, or any other form of Christianity, but Christian. This includes every variation of Christianity including those cults and yes they still exist (my ex gf tried to get me to go to one, thus she is an ex))

  10. “note he said Christian not Catholic, Protestant, or any other form of Christianity, but Christian. This includes every variation of Christianity including those cults and yes they still exist”

    Yup, it was pretty broad, all right. And yeah, there are always those fringe elements that somehow manage to get most of the press and reflect poorly on the larger group.


  11. Talk about IGNORANT, All of you who are so critical of Christianity don’t have the capacity of brain cells to look at history. Look back, all the way to the Roman Empire and take note that 1. Every nation that has fallen denied Christ. 2. Every nation that fell abandoned morality. 3. All who were a part of the above were given over to “a reprobate mind”.
    One thing that you liberals don’t have is common sense. Even if there “Were No God” morality makes the world safe, happy, and content. Believe as you may, right is right and wrong is wrong.