If you read my regular posts you know I’m a fan and heavy user of Netflix. One of the main reasons why is the “Watch Instantly” feature that comes with your monthly subscription and while on-demand viewing has a long ways to go it is definitely getting there. I noticed for the first time that Monk and Psychwere now on the “instant” list. These are two of my favorite TV shows and ones I consider very Freethunk. I still remember reviewing the first episode of Psych for this website and thought it had huge potential for the skeptic crowd.
Both of these USA features proved that a TV show did not always have to defer to the supernatural to get ratings success in cable programming and have even parodied psychic behaviors. Again, there’s nothing wrong with supernatural fiction, but if unexplained mysteries are answered by more of “the unexplainable” it can get boring and sometimes downright annoying for freethinkers. Both Monk and Psychstart their shows by introducing an event that seems impossible such as a morbidly obese man who can’t move from his bed finding a way to commit murder and then they solve it because they can’t accept the impossible. The puzzle drives them to find a rational conclusion instead of the lazy thinking of people like psychics, ghost hunters and new agers who rather just assume everything is supernatural if it can’t immediately be explained.
Monk also is a reminder of human frailty–sometimes the smartest guy in the room can also be the most flawed. In fact, Monk is completely irrational when it comes to very ordinary things–a disorder that can be diagnosed. I think it shows–in an exaggerated fashion– that even the best of the skeptics can be examined for making mistakes in thinking.
Psych was so refreshing when it came out because it built upon exactly what psychics do–they observe and then dramatize their observations. They exploit gullible people for profit and fame and while Shawn Spencer is a person of questionable character, we as the audience are in on the gag.
I’m hoping that these shows are watched by young people, whether it is on their own or on family night, as I do honestly think pop culture has an effect on our mindsets. The skepticism may seep into a whole new generation who, while still religious, may whittle down their beliefs to the larger questions of God’s existence and avoid the small traps of faith healers and mentalists.
BTW: So where did I get this Monk illustration? This was a concept idea for a crude T-Shirt design (I removed the original tagline) and I never got paid. Might as well get some use out of it. Yes, we love Monk!