The inspirational, Christian series, Eleanor’s Bench, is an account of the adult life of a female juvenile court judge, Eleanor (Karen Abercrombie), and is nothing short of riveting. Eleanor returns to her hometown after the death of her mother to serve as a judge in the inner city of Washington D.C. She also seeks to encourage her terminally-ill father to care for himself in ways she deems appropriate, but his strong faith-filled push-back challenges the very identity of this otherwise strong, put-together woman. Eleanor is a confident and wise judge, who makes a huge difference in the lives of the people who approach her bench – people who are otherwise her neighbors and friends’ children. But the vulnerability this character conveys in her personal life is what really drives this narrative.
This gritty, emotional, well-acted, and skillfully executed production addresses inner city issues that speak to everyone, as the viewer is invited into the lives of a struggling, incarcerated single-mother and her abandoned son, the personal struggles and victories of the lawyers who approach this judge’s bench, and a judge who is authentic and full of grace towards all whom she encounters.
However, while Eleanor seems to have it all together professionally, she admits to her pastor that she is struggling with her faith, and she clearly keeps others at arms’ length; she can be seen in more vulnerable moments trying to convince herself that she is enough. This show, therefore, raises questions and poses some solutions about personal strength, vulnerability, faith, grief, and love. The suggestion is that God is the answer to our troubles, and conversations with teens of an appropriate viewing age that can deal with issues discussed such as crime and death, could be robust and worthwhile in relation to what these characters are experiencing.
Eleanor’s Bench is an inspiring reminder that no matter how well put-together we may be, we have never “arrived” and always need God to guide the way.
Dove Rating – Approved for 12+