Well... at least slightly so, that is. I watched the premiere of NBC's allegorical "Kings" over the internet last night. Work at the paper on Sunday evening kept me away from the debut and my favorite weekly viewing pleasure, "Big Love."
"Kings," a modern-day retelling of the classic David story of the Hebrew Bible, is set amidst the backdrop of a modern metropolis, complete with a New York City-style skyline and contemporary issues -- modern warfare, healthcare issues, the paparazzi, the "free press" and, yes, homosexuality.
The David and Goliath, David and Jonathan, and David and Saul stories flow onto the TV screen from the pages of scriptural history (excuse my obvious Southern, evangelical phrasing -- it's the way I was raised). But NBC's modern-day take doesn't completely align with the stories (mainly from Samuel 1 and 2 and Kings). Despite the presence of a gay character (which the Bible also has, unless you're reading it from an definitive anti-gay bias), "Kings" shifts the plot and storylines a bit, but what else is to be expected from 21st century media? (Picture right: King Silas and David Shepherd.)
In the TV drama, King Saul becomes "King Silas Benjamin" (a throwback to the fact that Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin). David becomes "David Shepherd" (how cute) and Saul's son Jonathan becomes "Jack."
But unlike the Biblical story, there's only one gay or bisexual character. In Scripture, one can easily interpret David and Jonathan's love for one another as a romantic relationship. In "Kings," it is likely the main character won't have any gay trysts. But that doesn't rule out any longing Jack might develop for the young David.
Critics have called out NBC's choice to portray Jack as a villain. That view isn't entirely correct. First and foremost, the show, like the Biblical story and life, have no clear cut "heroes" or "villains" -- each of the characters are complex.
While no one can argue that the character isn't portrayed as a spoiled, royal brat, there are plenty of scenes in which Jack shows some humanity. He is a capable military leader who is tripped by the scheming and plotting ways of his royal father. He feels pain and loss after the death of his military comrades. He tries desperately to please his father, the only man he wants to please, despite having the respect of the entire military.
Previews from critics made privy to the first four hours of the show and those who interviewed the show's creator say give the show time: each character will have their own unique journeys. Perhaps we can attribute Jack's seemingly villainous ways to the forced double life he must lead. In the two-hour premiere, Silas tells Jack, in no uncertain terms, that if he is to be king, he cannot "be what God made you to be." (Picture right: King Silas calls out his son Jack on his late-night activities with other boys, after his "shows of skirt-chasing.")
I'm excited to see what the show holds for the future. I've always loved the story of David, even before I came out and heard of its obviously gay interpretation. NBC's "Kings" has promise.