An LDS Prime Time TV Series
What if there was a prime time, Network Television family drama focusing on the lives of an LDS family of 8 living in New York City? In the same way that "The Cosby Show" brought African American culture to America at large, could a TV Series about an LDS family bring LDS culture to the rest of America?
The media can be used as a powerful forrum for enriching people's cultural understanding of groups with whom they otherwise would not come in contact. The portrayal of Latter-day Saints in the media has, as yet, been done mostly by people to whom Latter-day Saint culture, doctrine and lifestyles are, at best, like a second language. This often results in stilted views of the Saints-- some only modestly stilted, as in the recent HBO rendition of Tony Kushner's "Angel's In America"; others downright offensive, as in the Southpark episode dealing with the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon.
Alternatively, media made by Mormon artists tends to be so exclusively Utah-based that it is utterly inaccessible people who are not LDS, and sometimes even to church members who didn't grow up in Utah. (Admittedly, not all films are as alienating as "The Singles' Ward." Some films, like "Brigham City" do a fairly good job of making themselves understandable to outside audiences). Still, though, we haven't yet seen a Mormon mass media production that is a runnaway hit with "insiders" and "outsiders" alike.
In a recent conversation with a non-Mormon, 19-time-Emmy-winning TV producer, I pitched him the idea about having a show focusing on an LDS family of 8 living in New York City. He was excited about it, and wanted me to get him the script for a pilot episode (and a few following regular series episodes) by the end of the summer. As I see it, the show would be balanced with about half Mormon characters, half non-Mormon characters. The children in the family would range from age 3 to 18, providing for an almost endless source of comedy and drama. Sometimes, it could be light-hearted; other times serious. Sometimes, the church could be only a perifery element of the stories. Other times, the show could explore directly issues that LDS kids, teenagers and adults face in being "in the world, but not of the world." It could explore issues of inter-faith dating, ethical dillemas for the father at work, gender politics with the working mother's interaction with other LDS women (or she could be not working, and there could be interactions between her and her non-LDS working / unworking women friends). The father could be called to be the Bishop, and we could explore problmes of people in the Ward. The son could go on a mission, making for a spinoff series...
As you can see, the potential is there. I post this blog because I do not dare to consider myself experienced enough to speak for the entire church body at large in such a mammoth forrum. What do you all, as people who have spent a lifetime consuming both Mormon and non-Mormon media, think the show should deal with? What kind of kids should be in the family? What kind of writing mistakes would make the show lame or inaccessible to non-Mormons? What wrongs have you seen in other Mormon media that you desperately would want to see avoided in a series like this?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.