Last night I was watching a repeat of the sitcom “Everyone Loves Raymond” The episode was about a great dish his wife had cooked, and how his brother and dad really liked it – so much in fact that his dad would sneak over to eat more of it. A friend spilt the beans on Raymond on how he would denigrate his wife’s cooking and call it ‘Road Kill’ at work – all in the name of a participatory workplace joke. It led me to reflect deeper on the nature of the sitcoms we watch and what is about them that makes us laugh.
This morning my wife and I were talking about this and Frasier came up, with the observation in how it was ironic that the brothers were psychiatrists and yet were nutty as fruit batts. I further reflected on how sad it is that the shows we watch are increasingly dysfunctional. Frasier, Cheers, Every One Loves Raymond, Home Improvement, Malcolm in the Middle, Two and a half men, Modern Family and Raising Hope each seem to raise the bar in regards to the dysfunctional nature of family life and what we call entertainment.
Now I must confess that many of these shows I enjoy – despite the cringe factor. They emphasis the elements of my own family life and experience which have elements of commonality. They make me feel good in that my family is not that bad. And they show the commonality that family is different and that somehow life will survive and family will pull together.
I wonder if we would watch a show that had encouragement as the basis of its entertainment. Characters who would lift others up instead of making insults. On further reflection I recognised it was this very issue of encouragement that makes these shows successful. For despite the overall negative thrust within these shows – there are times when the characters will encourage another and build each other up. I believe it is the elements of encouragement that actually make these shows successful.
These shows do reflect life. They reflect the fallen world in which we work, live and breathe. We all have families that are dysfunctional to some extent – we can recognise ourselves and others with the various characters. We all have friends and experiences that have been negative and yet hopefully we all have had times where we can look back and remember the times we were encouraged.
Scripture tells us to encourage one another on a daily basis and a favourite prayer of mine is that the Lord will cause me to be and to help me to be an encourager…for we all need encouragement – or do we?