A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this inspirational drama series follows angels (who look human) who bring hope -- via reminders of God's love and mercy -- to people struggling with life's burdens. The heavily spiritual content deals more in moralistic adages than actual Bible quotes, but a non-denominational Christian atmosphere is nonetheless prevalent throughout the show. The ever-changing subject matter can be heavy and emotionally charged, with characters experiencing illness, death, and various family crises. A main character is the heaven-sent Angel of Death (though again, he looks fully human), who escorts those who die to their eternal fate in heaven or hell. Some episodes also feature messengers from the devil who attempt to sabotage the angels' good work.
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What's the story?
In the popular, faith-based 1990s drama TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL, messengers from heaven enter people's lives to bring hope during emotionally stressful times and remind individuals of God's love and mercy. Roma Downey stars as the genteel Monica, an angel who, at the show's start, had just been promoted from search and rescue tasks to case work. As such, she's able to pose as a human and seek out people struggling with emotional burdens, quickly befriending them and gently guiding them through life's rough spots, eventually revealing her angelic status and telling them how much they're loved by God. Monica is accompanied by her supervisor, Tess (Della Reese), who interacts less with the human subjects but provides her apprentice (and by association, the viewers) hints about the scope of God's plan. Andrew (John Dye), the Angel of Death, supplements his duties as an escort of the deceased with occasional case work alongside Monica and Tess; in later episodes, Valerie Bertinelli joined the cast as team member named Gloria. The show also welcomed guest stars in nearly every episode, including Bill Cosby (as the Angel of Reconciliation), Angela Lansbury, and a recurring role for Randy Travis.
Is it any good?
This uplifting, inspirational show is steeped in strong moral messages, life lessons, and Christian overtones that include multiple references to "God," "Lord," and the "Father." Some episodes also feature self-proclaimed advocates of the devil, including one (played by Jasmine Guy) who falls from God's grace and tries to sabotage the angels' work on Earth.
If the premise of Touched by an Angel meshes with your religious beliefs and your kids can handle the subject matter, this is a good option for family viewing with tweens. But some sensitive kids may find the show's emotional topics (family illness, death, and divorce) upsetting. It's also likely to instigate lots of questions about the existence of God and the idea of predetermined destiny. So let your instinct -- and spiritual tendencies -- be your guide on this one.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the struggles the characters face in each episode and -- when applicable -- relate them to their own lives. What emotional challenges weighed on the characters? How did they try to cope on their own? How did the angels help them? Kids, when have you had to overcome challenging times? How did a friend or family member help you get through it? Parents can also use this show to discuss spiritualism. What are your family's religious beliefs? How do other religions differ in faith and practice? Do you believe there are angels among us? What other ways have religion and faith been portrayed on TV? How do the media treat religion and faith in general?