Did Bodyguard achieve its goal?
Apart from the World Cup, more people watched Bodyguard than any other TV show this year.
As Sergeant David Budd tries to catch the bomb-maker who killed the Home Secretary, he seeks out the vulnerable woman who he saved from blowing up a train.
Nadia Ali was an oppressed wife, forced into submission by her jihadist husband. Now in safekeeping, perhaps she’d be able to give evidence about her husband’s terrorist cell?
But nobody saw the twist coming.
Nadia wasn’t oppressed. She was the jihadist responsible.
Writer Jed Mercurio served us up a stereotype of the oppressed Muslim wife which we easily bought into. His goal was to expose how blind we are to our own stereotypes. And he pulled it off perfectly.
Apart from one detail.
He exposed our stereotype of the oppressed Muslim wife, and replaced it with another - of her being a terrorist.
Did Mercurio accidentally expose his own stereotype?
Stereotypes are useful to us. They help bring order to a chaotic and complex world. They give us goodies and baddies. They help us spot right and wrong.
But even when we’re trying to expose the stereotypes of others, we use stereotypes to judge those who need their stereotypes correcting.
So perhaps they're not so useful after all.
To avoid falling into the self-defeating trap of stereotypes, we need to learn from Jesus who avoided type-casts.
Jesus didn’t go by the Samaritan stereotype – he lovingly spoke into the spiritual situation of one Samaritan woman who he loved (John 4:18).
He didn’t buy the social rejection of lepers – he was willing to touch and heal a leprous man (Matthew 8:3).
He didn’t right off society’s most-hated tax-collectors. He got to know them personally and called them to follow him (Mark 2:16).
And he calls us to do the same.