ABC Presents Bible Stories (With or Without Full Frontal Nudity)

Yes, some of the Old Testament reads like Game of Thrones (humans are a sinful lot – that’s kind of the point of the entire Bible). But your natural audience for Old Testament stories isn’t exactly clamoring for explicit rape scenes and graphic massacres. To offer believing Christians and Jews an X-rated version of King David can only be a failure of imagination or a calculated insult. Or both.

But that’s sort of what ABC is contemplating with Of Kings and Prophets, “an epic Biblical saga of faith, ambition and betrayal as told through the eyes of a battle-weary king, a powerful and resentful prophet and a resourceful young shepherd,” currently in development. (Get the sense that ABC still has reams of old Dynasty marketing copy lying around?) Apparently the show’s creators lack the creativity or discipline to not tell the story without graphic sex and violence, causing a dilemma for ABC.

According to Variety, producers are considering offering two cuts of the story: one for broadcast, the other for online, where the producers have “more leeway” with “skin or sexuality.” Oh sure, they’re not totally free online. “I think we’re really talking about subtle distinctions,” between online and broadcast, co-creator Adam Cooper told Variety. “It’s not like in the online version we’re going to be showing scenes with people’s heads being hacked off.”

But the sex will be a little different. “In the broadcast version, we kind of have to cut around it and do it in pieces, but in the online version, I think we can show it as we originally intended. Certainly not added scenes, just different edits.”

Which raises the important theological question: What’s the frickin’ point?

Why spend the money and time to go beyond implying or alluding to sexual behavior at all? It doesn’t add anything to the tale a skilled film-maker couldn’t do without it. (It only took a fully clothed dance from Salome to establish how debased Christopher Plummer’s Herod was in Jesus of Nazareth.)

Because Hollywood expects as much sex and violence as they can get away with, audience be damned. At this point, even if they had the creative energy and intelligence to do different, they know no other way.

Who knows, maybe Of Kings and Prophets will surprise and rise above the people who are making it. Miracles do happen.

Matt Philbin
Matt Philbin
Matt Philbin is Managing Editor of MRC Culture