Our America with Lisa Ling

The former View correspondent gets up-close and personal with faith healers and monster-truck drivers.

Lisa Ling: Fair and balanced sensationalism
Lisa Ling: Fair and balanced sensationalism

"Who's going to love my child?” asks the father of a 7-year-old boy named Hailey, who wears dresses, identifies as a girl and plays with dolls. “Who’s going to fall in love with her?” Our America is straightforward and honest, giving the mind something to chew on.

The focus here is on the nitty-gritty, the provocative, the unglamorous. It explores the sometimes awkward recesses of the culturally taboo, immersing viewers in social controversial topics that some might rather see swept under the rug.

Lisa Ling (The View’s former Generation X golden child) doesn’t tell you what to think about faith healers, sex offenders, the transgendered, “praying the gay away” or mail-order brides. Rather, she encourages viewers to make their own judgments.

Were the subject matter presented for entertainment shock value, drizzled with the melodramatic sap of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, or spearheaded by someone theatrical and self-absorbed (like Tyra Banks), Our America could have sunk to the level of Wife Swap.

But Ling nimbly toes the tightrope of non-partisanship. She’s personable and compassionate, taking care to explore both ends of the opinion spectrum by asking questions for skeptics and believers, sympathizers and opponents.

“I’ve been to heaven,” a 20-something faith healer tells her. “Were you on drugs?” she asks. Ling gets emotionally invested, especially with her voice-overs — a questionable element that critics may argue compromises her objectivity. Yet as curiosity mounts with each new character (“How is this flamboyant, monster-truck-driving minister not an embezzling charlatan?”), Ling is there, directly but respectfully prodding the elephants in the room.

Even without Ling’s narrative, the raw footage is powerful enough to stand on its own — like the shot of a loner paraplegic descending in a glass elevator into the sanctuary of a mega-church, where he’s hoping to be healed.

“This is just a blink compared to eternity,” he later tells the camera, with heart-wrenching disappointment but unflagging resolve.

I cried during the first two episodes, and I’m not blaming the wine I was drinking.

Ling or no Ling, the people and their stories broaden your perspective.

That’s good TV.

Our America with Lisa Ling, Tuesdays, 10 pm, OWN


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Through Sept. 5, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Oct. 30
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About The Author

Blair Tellers

Blair Tellers is a freelance writer and a former Inlander intern.