As knee deep in pop culture as this blog is, I actually don’t pay too much attention to TV these days. Never even seen an episode of Lost if you can believe it. But when the latest issue of Dish Magazine arrived (I get it for the movie listings) with a brief article on the upcoming TBS series Neighbors From Hell, well, I just had to take a peek. You can too if you’re willing to go to their site, but be warned, the head writer used to work for South Park, so the commercial is crude with a capital RUDE.
The basic setup is that Satan sends a family of demons disguised as a human family to stop some eeevil oil company from drilling through the center of the Earth and exposing Hell. Eh, whatever, most stories need some kind of a MacGuffin to get things going. But I thought the premise had promise in a Screwtape Letters kind of way, what with a bunch of demons poking around suburbia preying on the weaknesses of their neighbors and encouraging them to make wrong decisions. Handled correctly, there’s a lot of potential for subtle social satire and criticism in the idea.
It looks like every human in the series is already a repulsive scumbag destined for Hell before the demons ever show up. The whole heavy handed punch line of the show seems to be that we humans are, in fact, worse than the demons who are just doing their job. In the interview with Dish Magazine, head writer & executive producer Pam Brady explains that the demons are “not evil in the way humans are evil. Only humans would start wars or do really sadistic things just because of this human frailty. We’re saying demons have a code… The judgment we take is on bad behavior. We’re not really saying that demons are better than humans; we’re just saying that when you have a code and you stick to a code, maybe that is a better thing.”
You mean in the same way terrorists, the mafia, and oppressive political regimes all have a code and stick to them? Like that? Sigh. But bypassing the inanity of that comment, and taking for granted that what we have here is not a by-the-book presentation of what a demon really is, there is half a point to what the show is getting at. People do bad things. It’s called SIN. And in a certain sense, because we are the only creatures on Earth who can actually commit a sin (darn that free will of ours), you could even say we are the worst creatures on the planet. As the Catechism notes, human nature “is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence"…”
“… but human nature has not been totally corrupted… God is infinitely good and all his works are good.” And while no animal, vegetable, or mineral can ever sink to the depths we humans can, they can never scale to our heights either. Through the grace of God, when we do good, man, do we do good. And that’s my concern when watching this promo, that the show will be a one-note joke fixated on the whole anti-humanity mentality which seems to currently saturate the entertainment industry. (Well, okay, that and how many bestiality references can be crammed into a one minute commercial. Sheesh.) I’m hoping that in the series, just like in real life, we humans get to show our good side every now and then.
Anyone interested in watching this when it airs?