Those who argue that media representations have no impact on how certain groups of people are perceived might want to cover their ears when Taylor Coleman speaks. Ms. Coleman is one of the three teenagers at the center of the docu-series “Preachers’ Daughters,”which has its premiere on Lifetime on Tuesday, and boy, does she believe what she hears.
Preachers’ Daughters Kenneth Coleman and his daughter Taylor are in this new reality show on Lifetime, Tuesday nights at 10, Eastern and Pacific times; 9, Central time.
Being a preacher’s daughter, she reckons, gives her license to misbehave, because after all, that’s what preachers’ daughters are supposed to do, right? Chafing against authority is virtually her job. Her ultimate transgressive idea? Talking about being a stripper, or even a porn star, because their lives appear “free.”
Naturally that sends her father, a Pentecostal preacher who describes himself as a “warden,” into paroxysms of prayer: “God, please, don’t ever let my daughter become a porn star.” While he’s at it, he should also pray she doesn’t settle for becoming a cast member on “Bad Girls Club” either.
Ms. Coleman is the most aggressive of the three stars of this show, all of whom are radiant in their youth and challenging to their parents. Kolby Koloff is seeking permission from her parents — one of whom is the former professional wrestler Nikita Koloff, now a preacher — to date for the first time. Olivia Perry has a baby but is uncertain who the father is, driving her parents to tears as well as prayer.
These interactions have none of the dark drama found on “Teen Mom” or “16 and Pregnant” — at least not yet.
“Preachers’ Daughters” hinges on the inescapable premise that the more difficult the stars become — say, Ms. Coleman frolicking with a handsy boy while wearing a not-quite-there bathing suit, as she does in the premiere — the more tantalizing this show will become.
But the parents have their arsenals too: Ms. Coleman’s father’s draconian rules; Ms. Perry’s empathetic father’s tears and forgiveness; and Ms. Koloff’s mother’s discomfiting frankness about intimacy (she is also a preacher), repeating phrases like “finger sex” often enough so as to rob them of all erotic power.
There are many more examples of reality TV’s capitalizing on young people willing to show off their indiscretions than of its depicting communities of faith standing strong in the face of moral turpitude. That means that participating in this show is a gambit of sorts for the parents here, who are using their children’s growing pains as a gateway narrative in hopes of ultimately reaffirming faith-based messages — trying to turn reality TV into a values vessel.
But reality TV has its own designs, and influence. The stars only have so long to misbehave before they age out of this show. That means that later seasons, if they come, may well be stocked with a new wave of preachers’ daughters who are watching at home, taking notes.