The Sisterhood, a new reality TV show from TLC, is supposed to give viewers a glimpse into the private lives of preachers' wives. But in reality, it features nothing more than girl drama sandwiched between Bible verses and church clichés.
After a month on air, the show is suffering a backlash from African-American Christian viewers who rightly say the show gives a bad impression about how seriously first ladies take their faith and their role in the church.
The show follows Christina Murray, DeLana Rutherford, Dominique Scott, Ivy Couch, and Tara Lewis as they navigate their personal and church life in Atlanta, Ga. Three of the women’s husbands pastor successful churches, while the other two pastors are looking for a church after recently losing or closing their own.
Scott told National Public Radio she and the other women felt called to do the show.
"We knew it would probably be a little controversial, but we don't do anything just for people to understand and give us our approval; we do everything for what God is trying to lead us to do,” she said.
But critics describe The Sisterhood as unrealistic, overboard, and carnal.
Aiming for authenticity, the creators film everything from a romantic interaction between Couch and her husband to Lewis’ plans for her son, who’s part Jewish. (She claims during pregnancy God revealed her son would be the first Jewish-Christian president of the United States. So naturally, the theme of the party will be “Hail to the Chief!”)
Theoretically, the women are supposed to band together as a support group. But their “bond” gets tested by different theological perspectives and the personal elements of their past and current lifestyles, which emerge on the show. Gossip and catfights ensue. Instead of being authentic, the show is awkward and embarrassing.
The women defend the show as an honest look at what it means to be a “work in progress,” spiritually.
“[T]hese are lives being exposed,” Murray told NPR. “And I think the show is supposed to show the process that we go through, and a bit of the journey. We are ordinary women. We have a title that we hold, and yes, we try to do the best job that we can."
But critics are adamant the show inappropriately reveals too much personal information and personal struggles that could be misleading for viewers who don’t understand the Christian faith or the process of sanctification. They say it is especially inappropriate for people in roles of church leadership and dishonors how seriously many pastor’s wives take their role.
“This show mocks everything that we, as believers, stand for,” said Anne Cooke, a Christian viewer who started a petition at Change.org asking TLC to end the show. “It is disgusting, disgraceful, inappropriate and an inaccurate display of what we strive to accomplish as Christians.”
Gospel singer Marvin Sapp also criticized the show for its indiscretion, but urged Christian views to pray: “Let’s pray for the people on the show, that some discernment and discretion comes forward.”