I am always skeptical when I hear about a new show featuring a Catholic nun or priest. Skeptical and fearful: They’re probably the villains, and they’re also almost certainly going to be wearing a habit or cassock, no matter the decade or circumstance. (I get that it looks fancy, Hollywood, but it’s just not what most of us wear today.) Beyond all that, you can pretty much count on a theology built around either hellfire or sentimentality.
Then I caught the new BritBox show, “The Sister Boniface Mysteries.” A spinoff of the long-running “Father Brown” series (itself a reboot of a 1974 TV series based on short stories written by G. K. Chesterton), “Boniface” stars British comedian Lorna Watson as a member of the St. Vincent’s Convent in the aptly-named rural English town of Great Slaughter. And though she is indeed bedecked in a wimple (like “Father Brown,” the show takes place in the 1960s), what’s thrilling about this new show is the way in which it captures not creaky stereotypes of Catholicism but the inspiring richness of women’s religious life.