Thursday, February 7, 2013

Atheists on television?

Earlier this week, I suggested that we atheists take a page from the gay rights movement and 'out' ourselves (but only where that won't cause big problems).

Well, there's another way that LGBT people have become more visible - and more accepted - and that's on television. And now, according to Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, we atheists might be starting to see that, too.

At least, two atheist characters have apparently just outed themselves on The Good Wife. I don't watch the show, but Mehta explains how it went:
Reporter: Ms. Hayward, how do you respond to the controversy over your actions at last week’s benediction?

Maddie Hayward: My actions… you mean the video on the Web of me not bowing?

Reporter: Yes. During prayer. There’s been some chatter about your insensitivity.

Hayward: Well, I apologize if it, uh, seemed insensitive. I was just trying to avoid being hypocritical. I am an atheist.

Reporter: Really? Don’t you worry about how that’ll play in a state where only 15% call themselves non-religious?

Hayward: I worry about everything. [Nervous laughter] But I am who I am and I don’t think you should run away from that. Let’s just let the voters decide.

Reporter: And what about you, Mr. State’s Attorney?

Peter Florrick: I respect Maddie’s point of view.

Reporter: But you don’t share it.

Peter Florrick: Well, it’s different. I was in prison. Belief means a great deal there. In fact, sometimes, it was the only thing we had.

Reporter: And your wife?

Peter Florrick: Oh, well, I think my wife can speak for herself.

Alicia Florrick: I’m an atheist. [Smile.]

That's great, but I wonder how it will go from there. I remember the first episode of The Mentalist, where the former psychic (fake, of course) was surprisingly open about his atheism. Among the detectives, the only true believer was a young woman clearly portrayed as naive and gullible. (The others were noncommittal, but didn't seem to respect her faith much.)

In succeeding episodes, though, the show really backed away from that (probably because their advertisers were unhappy, don't you think?). Patrick Jane was never shown as religious, but they were never as clear about it, and they never again made the faith-based girl seem especially naive.

In fact, they even started including mysterious psychics in the show, people who weren't obviously scamming the public - and apparently making even Patrick doubt, a bit. But I didn't watch it long, not after that, so I don't know where that went or how it is now.

Will these two atheists in The Good Wife find religion? I guess we'll see. (Well, not me, probably, since I don't plan to start watching it.) This sounds pretty good so far, though. And this is another thing we need, to be seen as ordinary people - perhaps even admirable people - in the entertainment media.

1 comment:

Gregg Garthright said...

I actually saw that scene!

Theresa watches that show sometimes while I'm eating breakfast (through the magic of DVR!), and she had it on a week or so ago. I don't watch it, but it caught my attention and I noticed when the lead character identified herself as an atheist.

Now if they can just avoid the temptation to have her find religion in a future episode........