Joan of Arcadia

Joan of Arcadia (CBS, Friday, 8/7PM) is one of the most unique shows on television today. It is winding up its second season this coming Friday, April 22. Be sure to tune in.

The cast of Joan of ArcadiaAs you may know, Joan has a special relationship with God. It could be characterized as a begrudging one on Joan’s part. She first “saw” God as a “hot” young guy in the season pilot in 2003. God lost no time in telling Joan that her reason for being on earth was to fulfill her true nature as a human being. She continued to see God at least every week as a man, woman, old, young, and from many races.

Joan had an experience of the “dark night of the soul” at the end of the first season; this year she has had to deal with the death of a friend, growing up, telling the truth, her boyfriend’s infidelity, and the weaknesses of kids she goes to school with. Her family, nominally Catholic, has issues, too, from a brother who has to use a wheel chair to get around (the result of a car accident) to her dad being harassed by his boss and her mom having to face the man who raped her many years before.

God challenges Joan, and Joan challenges God. At the main convent of the Daughters of St. Paul in Boston, where young women study to become sisters, a large group of the sisters watch the show together every week; the postulants (the newest members) usually bake cookies for refreshments during the conversation that always follows the show. You can count on there being a lot to talk about.

The first season of Joan of Arcadia will be out on DVD in May.

Barbara Hall is the creator of this original show that if full of ordinary teens, theology, science, and the ingredients for boy/girl relationships. You can read an interview I had with Barbara, on this web site for St. Anthony Messenger magazine; it appeared in the March 2005 issue.

A friend of mine, Teresa Blythe, writes an excellent study guide for each episode of Joan of Arcadia. You can access it by visiting the website of Presbyterians Today; the guide is ecumenical and interreligious. Check it out.

If you like shows that are about family, sometimes nerdy teens, and what it’s like to have a relationship with God, be sure to tune in to Joan of Arcadia this coming Friday.

This show is one of the good ones. Frankly, the ratings are not as strong as the network would like. If more people watch Joan of Arcadia this week it will help assure that it comes back in the fall.

Know anyone who has ever complained about the media? Get them to watch Joan of Arcadia, too. If this show is not renewed and goes off the air, I will never again listen to anyone complain about the media again. This is a show with high production qualities, a great cast and a completely original storyline that is infused with God and does theology that believers can relish. It helps us do theology, too, in our everyday lives.

I don’t usually endorse any movie or TV show unless it’s a total winner in all ways – and Joan of Arcadia, in my opinion, is the one show on TV you need to be watching.


1 Comment

  1. This is the best show I have seen which purports to show God. None of the self righteous in your face preaching, or sentimental slop that I've seen in past shows of this ilk.  Joans family is shown to be fairly realistic, probably as much as American T.V. can show in this era, given its' Hollywood cultural past, without crossing the line to the dysfunctional. I like Joan but I wonder why her character isn't written as known by her friends to be weird, after all she does tend to talk to and yell at, bag ladies, tramps, and other strangers in the street.  I especially like that the scripts can show her reacting without thinking things through, and when the inevitable consequences occur, as they do in the real world, there isn't a sweet hollywood clean up. She doesn't often know how to explain why she feels, what she feels, or why she acts.
    Only the 1st series has been shown on Aus T.V. I'm hoping the 2nd will be on later this year without being relegated to the wilderness of late, late night slots. As a "latter day saint" I don't believe God would show himself in any other form than His true self, but as a T.V. viewer I can accept that this is the way the majority of the western world thinks, and for T.V. this is pretty good.      

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