It’s Time for an Atheist Lead Character on TV

Mar 12, 2014


Discussion by: David R Allen

Are there any America TV Producers reading this blog. It's time. It's time for a SitCom with an atheist lead character. The rest of the cast is detailed above in Obama's speech.

A high school senior. Good looking teenage boy. Call him Christ-o-pher. Christian. On the football team. Going out with the cheer leader daughter of the town fundamentalist preacher. Over the series, through interaction with a science teacher and an arts teacher, starts to doubt the god myth. He starts to ask questions. He starts to ask, "What if this is all wrong" and considering the consequences. Another young teenage character. Not cool at all. Who is an atheist, slowly at first has contact with our hero, and engages in interesting conversations. They form a bond. The super jock and the nerd.

As the series goes on, our hero starts to question religious dogma. Starts to pose smarter and smarter questions to his christian teachers, his parents, and the parents of his girl friend.

Finally, he comes out as an atheist. The series then gets a bit darker, and focuses on the consequences suffered by our hero as the town ostracizes him. Kicked off the football team etc. But there is a constant underlying theme exposing the idiocy of religious thinking. Intelligent design. A blond Jesus. The subjugation of women. The comparison and contradiction of the thousands of gods. The hypocritical fundamentalist preacher, racist, misogynist, corrupt town councillor. The affect on US Foreign Policy, like the spread of AIDS in Africa because the US aid is tied to christian "Family Value". The unquestioning support of Israel where the rapture is due.

Religion has enough silly stuff to sustain about five series on tellie.

13 comments on “It’s Time for an Atheist Lead Character on TV

  • TV already has atheist lead characters. Of course, their atheism isn’t their defining characteristic because the absence of belief on a certain subject is not a serious scaffolding for a character. House is clearly an atheist, but that’s not his defining characteristic when it comes to his persona; it’s that he relies on evidence based medicine, probability and psychology. If he started every differential diagnosis by saying “Well, it’s not the work of a god!” it would get real old, real quick.

    What you’ve proposed doesn’t sound like a SitCom to me. It sounds like a loosely disguised rant – and probably about as appealing to sit through.



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  • I have had similar discussions with friends about how there aren’t any (or enough) strong female, black, gay, transgender albinos, pick your favorite minority characters on TV. And my answer is always the same: Why should any intelligent person care? It’s all crap anyway and I never watch it except for a very small number of exceptions and I think that is the proper response to the garbage people are fed through their TVs. Encourage people to stop wasting their time watching it don’t waste time begging the garbage generators to generate better garbage.



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  • Sheldon Cooper, Big Bang Theory!

    I can’t find the exact quote but one time he taunted his Christian mother who was about to depart on a cruise arranged by here church. His line was something like “That’s very progressive of you daring to go on a cruise ship. Not that long ago your people would have been afraid of falling off the edge.”



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  • 4
    Reckless Monkey says:

    Trouble with TV atheists is they are always portrayed as missing something, broken, emotionally deficient. EG. House (brilliant but emotionally broken), Sheldon Cooper (brilliant but emotionally inept), can’t think of any others. Every atheist I have seen on TV is alway portrayed as somehow missing something, struggling for meaning in their nihilistic world. ‘I don’t care if you don’t believe in God just believe in something!’. I do, gravity, chemistry, the Cosmos……I understand that characters in TV land need to have tension in their lives, but with religious nutbags throwing all sorts of difficulties in our way there is plenty of tension to be had by a well adjusted atheist fighting off the barrage of lunatics that inflict pain and suffering on millions.



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  • In reply to #4 by Reckless Monkey:

    Sheldon Cooper (brilliant but emotionally inept)

    Everyone in BBT is damaged, that’s the humour of it. It would be a really dull programme if it were about a group of perfectly normal people one or more of whom were atheist.



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  • 6
    David R Allen says:

    In reply to #2 by Red Dog:

    I have had similar discussions with friends about how there aren’t any (or enough) strong female, black, gay, transgender albinos, pick your favorite minority characters on TV. And my answer is always the same: Why should any intelligent person care? It’s all crap anyway and I never watch it except…

    I didn’t even know there were openly atheists on TV because I also never watch anything with an advert. If you are looking for some quality viewing, FORA.TV is a web page that is devoted to the broadcasting of lectures, speeches, debates and the presentation of scientific studies to audiences. All of the major universities and think tanks from all over the world put up their stuff. Debates like Intelligence Squared put up their material. Most is free view. Some is pay for view in the short term. Krauss and Shermer vs two religious intellectuals (Is that an oxymoron) in a no holds barred debate. Lots of good science on evolution. Talks by the current Leaky family. Astronomy.

    Try this lecture on for size. A scientist gives an amazing talk about asteroids and earth.

    http://fora.tv/2013/06/18/Ed_Lu_Anthropocene_Astronomy/killer_asteroids_earths_orbit_cosmic_shooting_gallery



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  • 7
    David R Allen says:

    In reply to #6 by David R Allen:

    In reply to #2 by Red Dog:

    I have had similar discussions with friends about how there aren’t any (or enough) strong female, black, gay, transgender albinos, pick your favorite minority characters on TV. And my answer is always the same: Why should any intelligent person care? It’s all crap anyway…

    Sorry. The link with the asteroid story has only recently been made a pay per view. Probably because it was so good. Check out the web page anyway.



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  • 8
    phil rimmer says:

    I think TV is hugely important in many people’s lives, particularly those who don’t have much of an interior life of their own. (I lost mine temporarily to Breaking Bad.) I think soap opera is as formative of people’s moral thinking as anything and such a sustained narrative has particular power to mould thinking perhaps more than any series of Sunday services, should it care to.

    Comedy is an ideal vehicle for critical thinking. The root of comedy is error. Sit coms are dreadful, though, for character development. They are hinged on character types. Breaking Bad was comedic and dramatic and though extended beyond its original intended run was always planned to come to an end and permit real character development. It was driven by its own narrative discoveries.

    I would argue not to do an open ended sit com, to recover some narrative freedom, and to pick a storyline that allows your target audience to see themselves in a mirrored condition, so they may comfortably disapprove before before recognising their mirrored selves. A Christian family and a Muslim family with two troublesome kids, he wants to be an actor (is he gay/bi?), she wants to be a neuro-scientist. They fall for each other intellectually and cause problems within their families as they come to their discovery of what a properly human centered world might be.

    OR

    “Everybody Hates Julia Sweeney”. Julia Sweeney as a young girl and her puzzlement at the weird grownups and journey to a fuller understanding of her world. Three series tops. At ten, at 15 and at 25 (the age of the narrator in all three.)



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  • 9
    Timothy McNamara says:

    In reply to #7 by David R Allen:

    Cheers David, for some reason I’ve viewed a ton of FORA videos on YT without visiting their actual site!
    Great ideas in the discussion piece, by the way. Get some writers on board ASAP!

    Phil, I saw a funny cartoon picture recently “If Breaking Bad were set in the UK”. Main character finds out he has cancer and starts scheming. His doctor then informs him healthcare is free, and so the main character just goes back to being a teacher, the end.

    Cannot sit through any “Big Bang Theory” personally. The corny, formulaic writing complete with “laughter.mp3” every 4 seconds. Yuck.

    One recent production which fits at least the ‘atheist main character’ of the topic, is “True Detective”. Matthew McConaughey is fantastic, his character is brutally blunt toward the religious villains and bystanders in the grizzly story. Falls into (#4) Reckless Monkey’s astute complaint however, the character’s prerequisite ‘damaged individual’ backstory. Well worth anyone’s time though, that series.



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  • 10
    bluebird says:

    Mike Stivic character (Agnostic) from ‘All in the Family’. Smart, caring, level headed; his fencing lunges never penetrate stubborn Archie Bunker (Christian), espcially arguments over religion, tho.

    A blog entry over at Jerry Coyne’s website, discusses religion and (lack of) atheism in movies. I read elsewhere that religious, aka “Christian Entertainment, is going gangbusters. A juggernaut, if you will.



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  • 11
    Markovich says:

    Alicia Florick, the lead character of “The Good Wife,” has said that she is an athiest. But I wish she stood more in oppostion to her daughter’s embrace of religion.



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  • 12
    XFR Stone says:

    In reply to #4 by Reckless Monkey:

    Trouble with TV atheists is they are always portrayed as missing something, broken, emotionally deficient. EG. House (brilliant but emotionally broken), Sheldon Cooper (brilliant but emotionally inept), can’t think of any others. Every atheist I have seen on TV is alway portrayed as somehow missin…

    Temprence Brennan from Bones is another atheist portrayed as a social misfit. Kudos for the Firefly quote.



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