Accuracy in Media

Vox wished that an HBO drama series on a Christian televangelist family would be used to bash evangelical Trump supporters and evangelicals more broadly.

Vox said that “The Righteous Gemstones, HBO’s latest dark comedy,” had “drawn some criticism in its lack of desire to tackle post-Trump evangelicalism, which sometimes seems hell-bent on supporting the president no matter what he says or does, and regardless of how his statements and actions might contradict what is written in the Bible.”

Emily VanDerWerff, a Vox culture critic who says she “grew up in the sorts of evangelical Christian subcultures depicted on this series” wrote that “The show hits home for me, but I can still see why some people think it misses the mark of being strong satire about evangelicals in Trumpland.”

Vox film critic Alissa Wilkinson, who also reported growing up evangelical, said “I’m convinced that for many (though not all) white evangelicals, their support for Trump has a lot to do with being primed to admire big, brash celebrity pastors, to follow charisma and to be swept up by emotion. If you’re devoted to a pastor like John Goodman’s Eli Gemstone, whose spiritual acumen is proven by his ostentatiously flashy empire, then it’s a natural step to admire a figure like Donald Trump because of his wealth and fame rather than in spite of it. The Righteous Gemstones is really only a satire of a particular strain of evangelicalism, one that’s replicated across America but maybe not quite as much as media coverage of Trump’s mostly white evangelical base might lead you to believe.”

Wilkinson actually disagreed that The Righteous Gemstones should bash Trump-supporting evangelicals in order to make the insults against evangelicals more timeless.

“At any rate, I am fairly convinced I don’t want to see a show like this try to skewer the politics of that crowd,” Wilkinson wrote. “For one thing, that would mire the show in 2019, instead of making it feel a little like it exists outside of time; after all, televangelists and families of powerful preachers, with jets and mansions and bling, are hardly a new phenomenon.”

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