NBC Entertainment currently has a number of high-quality, status-quo-challenging programs.
As previously written, in its twenty-first season now, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit brings attention to the systemic problem that is sexual violence. In contrast to rhetoric spoken and perpetuated by current conservative ideologies, Law and Order takes victims seriously and does not excuse the male, the rich, the powerful when they act immorally.
This Is Us and New Amsterdam just made their respective fourth and second season premiers a few weeks ago and both are continually pushing the boundaries–in wonderful ways.
This Is Us centers around an interracial family in multiple time periods through flashbacks, the present, and flashforwards. Episodes have gone far beyond regular tensions that exist between siblings and significant others. And can we go back for a second and reacknowledge that This Is Us is about an interracial family, a close interracial family. Family members are White, Black, and Brown. Physical and psychological violences are basically absent, as are the “four letter” words so common in most contemporary entertainment. One of the main characters, Kate, is morbidly obese, and her son–a new character this season–is blind. Other characters struggle with addiction to alcohol. This Is Us challenges conservative ideas about what families look like, how families function, how friendships work, and much more.
New Amsterdam criticizes the United States’s Medical Industrial Complex throughout every episode. It attacks the costs of medical services whether from the hospital or the pharmacy. It attacks insurance companies and pharmaceutical labs that are only interested in increasing profits, not saving lives. It attacks administrators and the system that creates underfunded, understaffed, overworked nurses, medical doctors, and technicians. It advocates for Medicare For All. New Amsterdam also challenges conservatives ideas about what life should be like. New Amsterdam longs for a nation where people are able to get preventive care and are able to live without the burden of cost when medical crises strike.
Bluff City Law had its series premier last month. While not as emotionally-gripping (thus far, at least) as the aforementioned programs, the first few episodes use the courtroom to attack conservative ideologies in the United States that allow big business and power-hungry prosecutors more power and more humanity than actual people, that allow such members of the Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist (Heteronormative Ableist Theistic) Patriarchy to lie and destroy evidence and to use their authority to bully people into anything. Characters even stand up to judges who too often too quickly make partisan Opinions. Bluff City Law advocates for a legal system that gives justice to everyday people, that actually makes wrong-doers act right or pay up, practices that conservative powers actively fight against in 2019.
These four programs give life to important social problems that are currently posing special challenges. How these problems are solved or ignored or made worse in life beyond the screen will have profound consequences, of course.
Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda
Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives