Have a Little Faith: Religious Visions in Prison Break

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In this chapter I use Fantasy Theme Criticism to look at Prison Break in order to uncover the ways in which its mantra, “have a little faith,” is both encoded and translated into Christian spiritual and religious visions for the characters’ lives.

First, I define and link key terms as presented in the series—faith and vision. Then, I examine important and interesting religious issues raised by the series (i.e., how religion can provide both a means of imprisonment and a means of escape), interrogating the ways in which religious visions disrupt the logics around which the identity of “prisoner” is defined and performed, how religious visions and the plans they catalyze can attract “the unconverted,” other prisoners (and/or audience members) who have not yet realized escape is possible.

“Have a Little Faith: Religious Visions in 20th Century Fox Television’s Drama ‘Prison Break’,” in Small Screen/Big Picture: Television and Lived Religion (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2009): 343-372.

Worth reading and discussing

Winston and her colleagues deepen understanding of American mass culture, and this book merits reading and discussion... Recommended. All readers.


A Good, Smart Collection

God and television have been together from the start--from the theologically explicit "Lamp Unto My Feet" and "Life Is Worth Living" to the I-can-walk-again schmaltz of "Highway to Heaven" and "Touched By an Angel." Small Screen, Big Picture, however, concentrates on more recent and complex examples of the partnership. In fifteen rich, compelling, and often amusing essays, this book describes the remarkable flowering of religious themes in the high-quality television melodramas of the new century. It discusses with both sanity and intelligence two subjects that are often discussed with neither.

Robert Thompson
Professor of Television and Popular Culture
Syracuse University