Friday, January 06, 2006

Up with gay, dope-smoking Episcopalians

I'm fascinated by this article in today's Wisconsin State Journal. The story is about "The Book of Daniel," NBC's controversial new series in which Aidan Quinn stars as a Vicodin-addicted Episcopal priest with a gay son and a pot-smoking daughter. Even though at this hour it has never aired, "The Book of Daniel" has predictably incited furor in some quarters, and affiliates in Terra Haute, Ind. and elsewhere have yanked the show.

But Madison's WMTV-Ch.15 will broadcast the series tonight at 8 pm, and here's what station manager Rob Crain had to say about the hoopla: "We're not in the business of censorship or deciding what people should watch. It's Madison."

A striking phrase: "It's Madison." To me the phrase is particularly striking because the week before last I used it verbatim in an article I wrote for Isthmus newspaper about my search for a church home (a search that brought me to Episcopalianism): "I had this notion that although the broader denomination was divided, as a gay man I would be welcomed with open arms at any Presbyterian congregation in Madison. You know, it's Madison."

I love how our little burg's ethos is so palpable that a prominent media figure like Crain can simply invoke the name of the city -- it's Madison -- to make a pretty powerful argument about the values that prevail here: we're open-minded, and we don't truck with bluenoses.

Of course, those sentiments are not universally true in Madison, which is sort of what my article was about. But I'm relieved to live in a place where tedious, reactionary moralizing is more the exception than the rule.

We're all set to Tivo "The Book of Daniel," though I'm not getting my hopes up for it. It has been panned by television critics I admire, including Tom Shales of The Washington Post and Isthmus' own Dean Robbins. But to me, any show that has an Episcopal priest and -- to quote the State Journal article -- "depictions of homosexuality, drug and alcohol use and sex," can't be all bad.

No comments: