Picture The Bachelor, but if your grandma was supervising all the dates. Yikes. Also, YES. The Game Show Network, you know, the channel you watch when you're home sick from work and actually not faking it, might just become a channel you will watch when you actually feel like being entertained. This has happened already for people who like Jeff Foxworthy and the good book with The American Bible Challenge, the network's most-watched show ever, which proves that no niche human interest, not even loving Jesus, is too pure to not be exploited for cash (kidding, the winnings are given to charity. So pure it floats). But now GSN is considering adding another show with a side of Jesus, where the members of a church congregation will help lock down a decent mate for singletons from their own parishioners. Look out, mountain. This might be the best thing ever!
The deets, via the New York Times:
The proposed dating show with a religious setting, called “It Takes a Church,” will ask congregations, pastors, friends and family to find a suitable potential mate for a parishioner who is single. Plans call for hourlong episodes if it becomes a series.
The show is a contemporary version of how “the ladies of the church are always trying to fix up the few single” parishioners, Ms. Introcaso-Davis said, and would be “aimed specifically at that new audience” that has been brought to GSN by “The American Bible Challenge.”
Since it's going for the same clean-as-a-whistle viewers as the American Bible Challenge, it will probably focus on portraying Christians the way they like to be portrayed: As extremely nice, good people who are not weird at all. But if they would embrace their own niche weirdnesses, it could be great television. This could be the Sister Wives of mainstream Christians! To wit:
Palate cleanser: In our prurient, pornified culture where everything is sexed up to be gawked at slack-jawed, it could be refreshing to watch beige, bland people try to fall in love without even having to hook up drunk first. What the hell will they do? How long until they actually make out? Will they consume any alcohol or will all dates take place supervised on Christian retreats and during youth group sessions?
Delayed gratification: Christian lust is hilarious lust. No offense, I realize it's a real thing people struggle with/care about (I guess?). But watching those people struggle with when to kiss each other and impure thoughts and if it's OK, and do we have to wait for marriage and all the related hot probs would be extremely entertaining. I know, it could go the way of conversational blueballs, too, but remember: it took four WHOLE seasons of Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepard not being a couple before Moonlighting suffered for it.
Dispelling the myths: Yes, even though church people are often the very people most responsible for the lack of tolerance in the world, they, too are the victims of intolerance and stereotypes about being Bible-thumping blowhards who are the biggest hypocrites in the known universe. What do we really know about them? Are they fun at parties? Is there such a thing as a Christian dirty joke?
I grew up in the Baptist-saturated South arguing with religious people since birth, and from my experience, they are often hilariously judgmental and uptight people who are living in a perpetually fragmented state of humanness vs. Christianness, and have to do very difficult things like not have sex, or try not to lust too hard, or try to be good all the time while simultaneously following a bunch of weird rules, many of which are completely antiquated. Sometimes they are really by-the-book Christians and model people you actually admire. Other times they are every worst stereotype in the universe on pop rocks. They are also just regular people, like anyone. My point is, I want to see a good Christian dude get hooked up with an alleged believer only to find out she's way into whippets and Fifty Shades of Grey. Will he be tempted or disgusted? Stay tuned!
The sex: I can only assume there will be no sex or no reference to sex. OR WILL THERE? Look, Christian unmarried people have sex. Some of them do sneaky backdoor things like have a lot of anal sex because they think it doesn't count as losing your virginity, or they are cool with handjobs but not blowjobs. They come up with all these little round-abouts to be people like anyone without having to feel like they are not being Christians. This is just good television, GSN. The cutaway is your friend.
The arguments: Look, all adherents of any belief system will cherrypick what suits them and discard the rest. For sizzling appeal, this show could pair up fundamentally opposed religious types who ultimately believe in the same big thing but take issue with all the little stuff: women's role in the church or the acceptance of gay congregants. Sparks could fly when the relationship is ruined by the narcissism of petty differences. Or take it even more micro: Pair up a Creed lover with someone who actually likes music.
Real talk: The show is probably going to play it safe and not show us gay Christians on a first date, but they really should show us gay Christians on a first date. We need the modern tension of present-day actual life. If the show warmed up to real portrayals, Christians could really do for themselves exactly what every group they've ever persecuted has had to do for themselves, which is normalize their portrayal in pop culture to show that they are regular people, too and not weirdo sinning freaks. Sorry, Christians, but we think of you this way too, even though we love your potlucks.
The Sense and Sensibility factor: Since there's probably no way any of the above will ever happen, I still say the show can be a runaway train of fascination, if it follows the general goodwill of Sense and Sensibility, the Jane Austen book-turned-movie starring Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman.
Similar to the delayed gratification thing, the Sense and Sensibility factor is what I refer to as the ability for something that is seemingly not about very much of interest to in fact be a gripping portrayal of manners, life and notions about love and humanity. It is a lovely film, one where it takes forever for people to get together and the whole time they are getting together you can barely tell they are even getting together. They have conversations about the weather and travel and education and subjects that, if they were happening to you with someone you actually liked, you would be convinced it meant that you were destined for that great big friendship in the sky. However, underneath those boring convos was apparently deeply felt respect and an abiding loyalty and increasingly ratcheted up, life-or-death PASSION. And I'm pretty sure no one actually even touched. Who knew? Teach us the ways of this chaste, but simmering slow burn, GSN, and we're in.