Muse Reporting on the arts and culture

Splash of red

Entertainment | Conservatives get a toe in arts and entertainment in 2018
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 12/28/18, 03:16 pm

Conservative audiences flexed their purchasing power and proved this year they can influence TV, sports, and movies. Entertainment executives are starting to realize the importance of offering content that families can relate to, although shows and movies with a Biblical worldview still have a hard time getting Hollywood to take them seriously. Here are some of the top arts and entertainment stories of 2018.

Back to basics

Viewers have been telling TV executives for years that they want more conservative and family-focused shows, and 2018 was the year that producers finally started listening.

In March, ABC unveiled the reboot of Roseanne, depicting the matriarch of the famous 1990s TV family as unapologetically pro–President Donald Trump. The show was a smash hit, and networks started trying to figure out how to keep giving audiences something different from the amoral, post-modern stories that have dominated TV in recent years.

On Easter Sunday, NBC aired a live version of Jesus Christ Superstar starring John Legend. In May, Fox announced it had picked up Last Man Standing, in which Tim Allen portrays a politically conservative father of three (now adult) daughters. ABC canceled the show in 2017 to the dismay of right-leaning viewers. The new TV season saw the return of Last Man and a number of other family-focused shows such as This Is Us, American Housewife, and Speechless. ABC introduced two new comedies about family life, Single Parents and The Kids Are Alright, and a spinoff of The Goldbergs, which is about a quirky 1980s household.

ABC kicked Roseanne Barr off of her eponymous show after she posted a racist tweet, but producers tried to keep the show’s momentum going with a re-reboot called The Conners. Netflix finally appeared to be getting the pro-family message, too: In August, the company’s vice president of original series said the company was “focused on really building out a robust slate of family-friendly programming.”

All of the shows mentioned above are slated to return in the new year, demonstrating that family-centric entertainment might have a future on television. But let the viewer beware: Family-focused doesn’t mean Christ-centered. Many of the families featured in the new entertainment offerings espouse secular views on marriage, sex, community, and consumerism. —L.L.

Associated Press/Photo by Steven Senne Associated Press/Photo by Steven Senne Colin Kaepernick

Anthem anxiety

Whether it’s kneeling, standing, saluting, sitting, locking arms, or staying in the locker room, the American public is still very much concerned with what NFL players do during the pregame national anthem.

Facing dismal TV ratings and pressure from President Donald Trump, the NFL in May said it was changing its policy to require players to stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner” if they were on the field when it played before a game. Players could opt to stay in the locker room, but not sit out the anthem. The players’ union balked, though, and the NFL put the policy on hold in July, where it remained as football season started.

Nike managed to capitalize on renewed public furor over the issue with an ad campaign portraying Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback credited with starting the movement, as something of a folk hero.

ESPN reported in late November that NFL TV ratings were up 5 percent this season, though the kneeling controversy likely didn’t affect viewership one way or the other. Kevin Seifert of ESPN theorized another reason more people were watching: The play has been more exciting this year. The NFL is in the middle of “the most prolific stretch of offensive football in the league's history. Its total of 8,502 points and 980 touchdowns are the league's highest total through 12 weeks of any season,” he wrote. —L.L.

Associated Press/Photo by Julio Cortez Associated Press/Photo by Julio Cortez Harvey Weinstein removes his jacket as he enters a New York courthouse for a hearing on Dec. 20.

#MeToo turns 1

As the initial frenzy of the #MeToo movement settled down, supporters had to ask themselves the question: What’s next? Former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was charged and released to house arrest as prosecutors kept working to build a sexual assault case against him. The verdict against actor and comedian Bill Cosby in April gave victims hope that justice could prevail in their cases, too.

Many accused men like actor Kevin Spacey, TV host Matt Lauer, and radio star Garrison Keillor didn’t face criminal charges but received punishment in the form of lost jobs and income. Some of them, such as former Sen. Al Franken and comedy writer Dan Garmon, have apologized or at least acknowledged they crossed the line. Most of them are flying under the public’s radar as they work out legal settlements and try to figure out when would be the right time to try to start working again. Comedian Louis C.K. tested the waters with a short stand-up comedy routine in August and found out the public isn’t ready yet to welcome accused abusers back into the spotlight. —L.L.

Associated Press/Photo by Jose Luis Magana Associated Press/Photo by Jose Luis Magana Aretha Franklin in 2012

In memory

The entertainment world said goodbye to a host of world-class entertainers this year—most notably singer Aretha Franklin. Here are some of WORLD’s remembrances of the departed:

Top Hat Films Top Hat Films Earl Billings as Kermit Gosnell

Big premiere

Long-suffering producers Ann McElhinney and Phelim MacAleer finally realized their dream of bringing the true-crime story of abortionist and convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell to the silver screen in October. Despite a virtual media blackout of the film, Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer, starring Dean Cain and Earl Billings, did well at the box office and opened many people’s eyes to the evils of abortion. —L.L.

Get out the vote

Celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Rihanna, John Legend, and Mark Ruffalo tried to influence the election by calling on fans to vote—for Democrats. The midterm elections did see record turnout, but youth representation at the polls was still lackluster. —L.L.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

Read more from this writer