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Broadchurch (Season 1): Christianity, Male Affections, and What the Slug Said

And so did Christianity fall.   Detective Alec Hardy

I passed the word. Maybe the word was good.   Vicar Paul Coates

Christianity is a dirty word. Trying to find the Christian history of things, or the Christian basis of science, or information on Christian scientists, philosophers, etc., seems to be getting harder by the day. Christianity is being erased from history, and you’d be hard-pressed to find entertainment industry professionals who discuss their faith openly. There are some who do, like Denzel Washington, Sean Astin, Patricia Heaton, and John Rhys-Davies, and it was easier to find out Broadchurch AusDVDabout their faith than any direct information about the religious aspects of the BBC TV show Broadchurch. Considering that Broadchurch is chock full of things Christian, this lack of discussion still seems surprising.

Despite the (seeming) decline of Christianity in the United Kingdom,[1] or perhaps because of it, the 8-part murder mystery contains more on the Christian faith than many people no doubt experience in a year. Hearing actors quote bible passages was happily shocking. These days, when show business types are generally afraid to mention their faith, how did this show even get made? In an interview (Ng 2013) with one of the main actors, Arthur Darvill, he responded to a question with what may be a partial explanation:

It was written because [Chris] wanted to write it and he wrote it the way that he wanted to write it. It’s a real testament to people having ideas and people not interfering with those ideas. You can see it hasn’t been meddled with by people who are pulling purse strings, if that makes sense. I think a lot of TV you see is made in a way that’s quite cynical because it’s made to make money or made to be a hit, and this wasn’t.

There’s absolutely no reason to think Darvill was referring to the murder mystery part of the story, since that is a very ordinary, accepted, and desirable show genre. But besides Christianity, there are other meaningful issues, or themes, in Broadchurch that aren’t obviously discussed in mainstream media either. You’d think that the murder mystery was the only aspect of the 8-week long story, but my impression is that the story (which was interesting but not great)[2] was written solely to express these themes: Christianity; the supernatural; male affection vs. male perversion; grief; and, the question of how or why people closest to criminals don’t know about the criminal activity. Below is commentary on themes and subthemes, excepting that on grieving (the family slug shows up near the bottom, in “How could you now know?”).

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