If there’s anything more obnoxious than smearing Christianity, it’s using the religion as window dressing. It seems the only time Hollywood's even slightly positive towards religion is when it’s also a platform for violent fantasy stories. On July 2, Netflix proved as much with its latest series Warrior Nun.
Based on the comic book series Warrior Nun Areala, the show follows a secret organization of warrior nuns fighting to protect the world from demons. When non-believer Ava (Alba Baptista) is fused with one of their most divine artifacts, an angel’s Halo, she’s inexplicably drawn into the battle of good and evil.
As expected from a title like Warrior Nun, the series is predictably violent and heavy on irreverence. The fact that we have habit-wearing nuns slashing and killing people as a plot should alone prove that. Ava herself also drops f-bombs left and right despite being the title hero. One of the most prominent characters is even a gun-toting ally named Shotgun Mary (Toya Turner), who identifies with the nuns despite not being a nun herself. It’s almost like being a nun or a Christian is irrelevant compared to the fighting.
While the show acknowledges that God does, in fact, exist (the show’s one positive trait), it’s still pretty loose on its interpretation of Catholicism. Every episode title may reference Scripture, but you’d barely know it through the actual episode. The series clearly knows that Heaven, Hell, and angels are concepts in Catholicism, but we don’t get any acknowledgment of that little-known figure called Jesus Christ. Once again, the religion that’s supposed to be the focus of the show is given the most cursory glance.
Not to mention, despite the fact of the nuns being Catholic, there’s a clear pattern of throwing religious people under the bus. Ava’s old nun caretaker, for example, is revealed to be a child murderer. One of Ava’s nun allies, Sister Beatrice (Kristina Tonteri-Young), disparages the convent in general for rejecting things that are “different” (hinting that she is, of course, a lesbian). The order of warrior nuns also plots against Cardinal Duretti (Joaquim de Almeida), a man about to become the Pope, because they believe him to hiding secrets. By the end of the season, it’s revealed that their ally, Father Vincent (Tristan Ulloa), is actually a traitor for a devil. Even in a show with Catholic characters, Catholics still have to be bad guys.
Warrior Nun is far from the worst religious-based material in television, but it’s one of the more discouraging. Our only options for Catholic representation shouldn’t be violent cynics or bad guys, and I'd hoped that these writers would be more creative than that. Or at least more creative than another “Chosen One” narrative.