Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Yesterday in Sunday School the topic of honesty was brought up. We discussed how lying or dishonesty has become almost romanticized in the media. I've been thinking about it ever since. I can't think of one TV show that isn't based around dishonesty.
For instance-
Tonight I watched the seemingly harmless "Sonny With a Chance" with Little. The premise? Tricking people and doing under-handed (yet funny) things to catch them telling the truth, since it is assumed they would only lie to protect themselves from being embarassed.
I also watched "Wizards of Waverly Place," "House" and "Castle." (I also watched "Lie to Me" but obviously that one is about lying.) Wizards- the whole point of the show was two of the siblings lying to the little brother in order to keep his tutor around. House- the premise of the show is consistently that patients lie to their doctors, and that House manipulates and lies to everyone. Castle is probably bad example since it is a cop show, but again, the premise is investigating dishonesty.
I've been thinking more and more about it. Is there one TV show out there that isn't about dishonesty? Every episode I have ever seen of the seemingly innocuous Hannah Montana is about Hannah/Miley not wanting to tell the truth about something. Grey's Anatomy? How many different "plot twists" are actually about dishonesty? The Chief is lying about his alcoholism. Chang never trusts anyone. McSteamy lies outright. Torres is hiding secrets from her family. Let's try a different show, something more middle of the road or main stream. The Office? It is almost always about someone not wanting to be honest with Michael about his stupidity, or Michael is trying to cover up a stupid choice he made.
Can you think of any shows that aren't based on dishonesty?
Bones- investigating crimes, therefore dishonesty
Heroes- everyone is lying to everyone else
Private Practice- everyone is lying, some of them more than others. And half of them are cheating in marriages or relationships.
30 Rock- almost every episode is about someone not wanting to tell the truth, or take responsibility for what they have done

Its a depressing thought. How can we expect children, or anyone for that matter, to live an honest life when everything around them celebrates dishonesty? Or when all of the music they hear celebrates immorality?


  1. At least in the investigative shows - Bones, Castle - they're actively trying to solve and prevent the dishonesty from spreading. Castle's relationship with his daughter is one of the best family relationships portrayed on TV today.

    Other shows? Yeah. You have a point. And does someone in the office have to sleep with every member of Addison's family who comes to town?

  2. Yes, you do have a point. I just want to say something about the only show you mentioned that I actually watch (House). I think that while the show revolves around dishonesty, it usually does so to illustrate the negative consequences of dishonesty (disease, death, broken relationships), not to romanticize it. I usually enjoy seeing the good things that result from the truth coming to light on that show. I hope the same thing can be said about at least some of the other shows you mentioned, because you are right: celebrating dishonesty will lead to disaster. Only the truth will set you free.

  3. Perry- as usual, you are right. That is also what I enjoy about watching "House." It may revolve around dishonesty, it shows all the negative consequences from people's dishonest or selfish choices. So I guess in that one respect, because House openly makes it clear that it is about dishonesty, and doesn't romanticize it, it falls into the category of being the only honest show out there?

  4. "So I guess in that one respect, because House openly makes it clear that it is about dishonesty, and doesn't romanticize it, it falls into the category of being the only honest show out there?"

    I think you can say that for the procedural as well. At least the ones I watch (Castle, NCIS, CSI: New York). Dishonesty is a big theme in the media, but different shows approach it from different angles: some glamorize it, others illustrate the negative consequences of dishonesty and therefore promote honesty. At least that's how I see it.

    Also, have to agree with Jinxie re: Castle, especially regarding his relationship with his daughter. That's possibly the healthiest family relationship I've seen on tv, ever.

  5. Wow Erin, I have not examined the TV entertainment from that perspective until you pointed it out.

    Is that the only plot line the writers can come up with?? There's no story unless it starts with a lie?

    I've only seen a few episodes of Castle so I can't chime in there - but Medium has a wonderful family premise. Allison deals with ugly, criminal stuff on a daily, nightly basis - and she and her husband are honest with their kids while maintaining reasonable prudence. The relationship between Allison and Joe has to be the best, most honest marriage portrayed on television.

    Rolling it around in my head - Sex and the City is very honest. It may be at least 90% immoral but the relationships are honest and very rarely is anyone lying to anyone else.


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