A unique new “reality television” series released last week featuring the daily lives of 8 full-time Mormon Missionaries. Created by BYUTv, and titled “The District“, this program follows 8 Mormon Missionaries – 6 young men, and 2 young women (photo here) – serving together in San Diego, California as part of an area “team”, aka “District”. The show premiered on October 7, 2012, and will run 8 weekly episodes. According to news reports (referenced in “hat tips” below) this unscripted series was filmed “6 days per week over a 3 month period“. The hundreds of resultant hours [over 800 to be exact] were originally intended to be used as training videos for new missionaries. However, the producers soon realized they had captured compelling stories that would appeal to a world-wide audience.
“[T]he series captures the highs and lows of mission life, documenting successes and disappointments… the series doesn’t shy away from controversial topics, including tattoos, alcohol and chastity — all things that came up as the missionaries explained their beliefs.”
This looks like it could be a very cool TV show and worth checking out! I personally love the heightened desire of the LDS church to show greater transparency and “get real” (as illustrated in the diverse “I’m A Mormon” ads). This new “reality TV show” is fresh, (clean!), and creative. It is the result of thinking “outside the box” (a habit I’m rather fond of). It’s worth noting the courage it must have taken on the part of the young missionaries who participated – as well as all of the parents of the missionaries, and the non-Mormons who willingly allowed their interviews, comments, questions and lessons to be filmed. I certainly think this is a “must see” for any young Mormon thinking about serving a full-time mission, and it’s good prep for their families and friends. This is an intriguing series for anyone simply curious about what Mormon missionaries actually do without having to actually interact with one of them . Here’s your chance to see what it would be like to meet and talk to one, and hear their answers to all those “tough questions”.
Perhaps best of all, this program humanizes Mormon missionaries in a way that has been attempted only in fictional portrayals such as the movies “Gods Army” or “The Best Two Years“. Now, “The District” has the potential to take things up a notch. It makes a case for gently and solidly debunking the unfair and inappropriate depictions of Mormon missionaries made by Hollywood, or particularly of late by a certain popular Broadway stage play.
I say, kudos to BYUTv for “getting real”. I look forward to watching the next episode.
Episode 1 Promo
Episode 2 Promo
This series airs Sunday nights at 8:30 PM ET/ 6:30 PM MT on BYUTv. or Watch The Series Online Here
- New reality show follows Mormon missionaries (SLTrib.com)
- LDS Missionaries are stars of new reality show (Desnews.com)
- Reality TV Show About Mormon Missionaries (LDSMediaTalk.com)
- Astonishing: Church Lowers the Age Requirement For Missionaries (meridianmagazine.com)
- Mormon Church Lowers Age Limit for Missionaries (abcnews.go.com)
- (Re)Conceptualizing our Gendered Missionary Image (bycommonconsent.com)