Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Over/Under on How Much Actual Chaplaincy She Does?

HT to Songbird:

Nearly two seasons after her character's demise on the hit series 24, Reiko Aylesworth becomes the latest addition to the ER franchise. According to TV Guide's Michael Ausiello, the actress has signed on as part of the medical drama's 14th season.

Reiko Aylesworth became a household name as the tough and stoic Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) agent and eventual boss, Michelle Dessler for four seasons of 24. She will next play the new chaplain of County General on the long-running and multi-awarded ER.

Though tasked with administering to the spiritual needs of the patients, doctors and staff of the hospital, Aylesworth's character won't be hiding beneath a habit or bound by dogmatic laws on romance and celibacy. ER's new preacher will be permitted to lead a normal life including the use of provocative attire and the freedom to engage in the nuisances of modern dating. She is poised to provide color to the romantic life of John Stamos' Dr. Tony Gates character.

Clergy seem to go one of two ways on television: squeaky-clean milquetoast (7th Heaven) or off the deep end ridiculous (that show about the Episcopalian priest where everyone was on drugs). Or they get portrayed as an evil judgmental foil. This press release is interesting because the last paragraph basically says, "Oh, don't worry...she'll show her cleavage and have sex with people!"

I'm all about a chaplain being portrayed as "normal." God knows clergy struggle with relationships as much as anyone else. I wonder, though...will she pray with people? Will she struggle with some of the tough spiritual questions that come with experiences in the ER? Will she counsel fellow staff after a tough loss of a patient? Will she share her struggles with others in a way that shows how draining and rewarding real chaplains find their work? Obviously, there'll be the sexual tension between her and Uncle Jesse. Oh, and she'll wear low-cut tops. I just hope there'll be more to it than that.

But I'm cynical about it, if you couldn't tell.