Most entertaining television programs are secular to the bone. Some, like the popular Friday Night Lights and others have Christian themes, but on the whole, American television is like the average American: paying lip service to religion, but with a heart far from God.
Some people would use that as a reason to abstain from shows like The Office or Parks & Recreation. However, after spending equal parts of my day reading theology, specifically John M. Frame’s Doctrine of the Christian Life and Doug Wilson’s Her Hand in Marriage, and watching sitcoms, specifically 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation, I have come to a different conclusion.
In a sense, watching a secular sticom is like stepping out the front door. It’s a big, scary secular world out there, and a sitcom is merely a humorously packaged retelling of that world, polished and compressed to be conveyed via glowing rectangle into your brain. Sure, sitcoms contain crudity and ungodly behavior, but so might a trip to Wal-Mart.
I think it’s good to be able to laugh at the world. Sometimes I think laughter and tears are the only appropriate responses to the world’s pain and glory. We should be careful, though, at what we’re laughing at. Crude jokes and lascivious behavior can’t be ignored, of course, and if I thought they were the reason I watched a show, I would remove that show from my Hulu queue. This has happened more than once.
But ultimately, the people in sitcoms are what’s funny. We laughingly cringe at Michael’s antics in The Office, and our hearts go out to Jim and Pam as they try to maintain their sanity surrounded by a bunch of lovable freaks. Sitcoms can be a gateway to temptation, but when what we’re laughing it as caricatures of people that we can relate to our own life experiences, maybe turning on the tube isn’t such a bad thing.