I was disposed to like NBC’s new sitcom Perfect Harmony before I saw it, because I read this favorable piece on it.
Containing elements of rural life, Christians, and comedy, I thought it sounded like a lot of fun and eagerly checked it out.
But whenever there’s a mainstream show or movie featuring Christians, you never really know if the content is going to go sideways or stay unoffensive and good (i.e. ABC’s now-cancelled Catholic comedy “The Kids Are Alright” that began great and then started to get more and more irreverent).
So now that we’re a good few episodes into the first season of this show, I thought it’d be a good time to offer my take on it (spoiler alter: I like it).
Premise of Perfect Harmony
A somewhat snooty retired Ivy League music professor named Arthur has just lost his wife and buried her in her middle-of-nowhere hometown. He’s depressed and considers committing suicide at the start of the pilot episode – not exactly a recipe for comedy, but it quickly gets funnier.
Before he can kill himself, Arthur hears the terrible singing of a nearby church choir, and he can’t refrain from going to criticize them. He promptly passes out, but when he wakes up the next morning, he meets the good folks of the Second First Church of the Cumberlands choir.
These people can’t sing very well, but they are kind and big-hearted. Arthur couldn’t care less about their kindness, but he (obviously) ends up staying to help coach them.
The first episode revolves around an upcoming competition between rival church choirs, and later episodes find a lot of other fun ways to feature the choir’s singing and the continued need for Arthur to coach them.
But more than him teaching them how to sing well, they teach him how to grow as a person.
This show is often hilarious and very well-written.
The acting is good (Bradley Whitford plays Arthur, and the most prominent of the townsfolk characters is played by Anna Camp from Pitch Perfect), and the singing isn’t bad either. It’s not a full-on musical like Glee where people burst into song spontaneously, but there is plenty of more grounded causes for singing in most episodes.
It’s also nice to see Christian characters and church life (albeit Protestant) featured prominently in a show. We could certainly use more of that in our TV and movies.
And the bad
Though for the most part Perfect Harmony seems fairly respectful of Christians so far, there’s a bit of light irreverence here and there.
Mostly it’s things that are more a gentle fun-poking at Christians and not too offensive, but occasionally it’s a bit much (i.e. the Halloween episode featured Halloween carols that were reworded Christmas carols like, “O Little Town of Death-lehem”). But so far, actual cringe-inducing irreverence has been rare.
There is some crude and sexual humor here and there, some mild language, but nothing too bad in most episodes (though some of the last few episodes that aired were definitely a little heavier on this material — hopefully not a sign of things to come).
The only other issue is that two of the choir members were married and are in the process of divorcing. It’s nothing we don’t see elsewhere in TV and society in general, but I do wish that a show about Christians didn’t have a plotline that furthers the normalization of divorce and broken families.
Perfect Harmony isn’t perfect. But it’s good. Though it’s not without its faults, I feel like it’s more wholesome than a lot of the entertainment options out there. And it’s definitely quite funny.
I’ll be watching this one, and hoping it stays good.
Perfect Harmony airs Thursday nights at 8:30 on NBC.