“If you’re a traitor I’ll never talk to you again!” says Mollie to Harry. Chosen Traitor, treacherous 23year old smiling baby-faced Harry assures sweet Mollie that she needn’t worry, because he’s ‘100% faithful’. His justification for such sleekit hoodwinking and backstabbing is that “it’s only a game!” the aim of which is to return home with all, or a share, of up to £120K, which is banked through united demanding team missions.
Due to ‘Traitors’ glorification of lying, deceit, and betrayal I nearly ditched watching the BBC series, second of which finished last Friday. But as a social experiment set in the picturesque Scottish Highlands I was intrigued to see how it panned out and, after surviving the second of 12 episodes, I was gripped and engrossed. Not wanting to spoil the outcomes for you, suffice to say that I felt much better about the outcome of one of the series than the other.
Common to both UK Traitors’ series is how hilariously wrong everyone gets their conclusions on who the traitors are, thus banishing many ‘faithfuls’. So, while the traitors sow seeds of suspicion on the innocent, and deflect attention from themselves, the poor faithfuls sink in a sea of subjectivity, their views founded on fickle feelings about their fellow contestants rather than objective convicting facts. To his credit Jason (Jaz) is the only one to suspect the arch-traitor throughout, playing his cards close to his chest till the final scene. Qualification for such sleuthing sense is that he knows that anyone and everyone is capable of betrayal. His own dad, whom he once idolised, revealed that he has another family as well as Jaz’s. Jaz knows that even the most convincing faithful could turn out to be a traitor.
The success of ‘Traitors’ will do nothing to grow diminished confidence in politicians, journalists, church leaders and other public facing people. It is good that almost all exposed and banished traitors speak of a great relief that they can be themselves once again and how hard it was to be so two faced. From the comfort of our sofas we can view shows like ‘Traitors’ as ‘just a game’. But Jaz’s backstory is sobering and a reminder of the damage that daily deception and betrayal wreak in our world.
I think of Jesus spending two years with twelve faithfuls, one of which betrayed him to death (Judas), another major player Peter who denied he knew Jesus on the eve of his killing. Remarkably Jesus knew who the faithfuls and traitors were and loved them all the same, ready to forgive and free them to rise above their faults and fears to shine with God’s Love, filled with Grace and Truth. Along with honourable and truthful Jason we all have much to learn from Jesus about living truthfully and well and it remains to be seen if Mollie can forgive Harry after all his lies.
We live in a very cynical world full of ‘let-downs’, with many examples of both vice and virtue from which we can be duped and dumped or encouraged and elevated. Some people read the stories of Jesus in the Bible’s Gospels: Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John as fiction, or an unreal religious game made up by the likes of Claudia Winkleman and Alan Cumming. But many others come to a different conclusion. In literature it seems impossible to create and portray a believable ‘perfect person’. What makes characters more believable and interesting are their faults and failings along with their talents and strengths. Yet I challenge you to read the Gospels (universally recognised as reliably passed down from their original eye-witness authors) and ask, “Is this man Jesus who he claimed to be, God in human form?” or is he a ‘treacherous liar’ or ‘raving lunatic’ – ‘Mad, Bad, or God?’ The answer to this question can join us with myriad ‘faithfuls’ gone before us and open the door to the loving faithfulness, forgiveness and fruitfulness we are made for. Grateful to be a faithful!