'7th Heaven' never perfect

In 11 seasons, the WB's Christian drama didn't avoid tough issues.

Published May 7, 2007

For every viewer who dismissed 7th Heaven as a cheesy Christian drama, there was some fan who cherished the impossibly perfect Camden family. Others watched in gleeful suspense, hoping the family's occasional flirtation with sin and sex would eventually bear fruit.

The drama, one of the longest-running in television history, will air its last episode Sunday on the CW Television Network after 11 seasons, bringing closure to a show that actually fulfilled its promise to appeal to the whole family.

The Camdens often argued, but they never cursed, rarely yelled, and were quick to forgive. The show wasn't fast paced enough to warrant tuning in every week, but like a favorite soap opera, it was a welcome distraction while channel surfing. Even after missing a few episodes or entire seasons, it was easy to jump back in because the show's basic premise never wavered: good-looking Christian family promotes virtue while tackling after-school special topics such as teen pregnancy, racism, drug use and faith.

The clan is led by nosey stay-at-home mom Annie and strict-but-loving dad Eric, the minister at a Protestant church of an unidentified denomination. The rest of the family tree is filled out with five older children, the twin boys, an adorable dog named Happy, and half a dozen young, misguided heartthrobs the Camdens take in from time to time.

The oldest Camden children are decidedly unhip, but never nerdy. They look the part of sexy, hormone-fueled teens. Ruthie even got a tattoo, although she regretted it later.

In one episode, Simon, the only Camden child to engage in premarital sex, asks his older brother Matt, a doctor, for birth control so he and his college girlfriend can get it on. Oldest daughter Mary, played by Jessica Biel of Esquire's Sexiest Woman Alive fame, dates a guy twice her age, gets arrested for breaking into the school gym and, later, abandons her husband and son so she can find herself. But even when they wanted so badly to be bad, the Camden kids always eventually apologized to their parents, who warmly accepted.

As the show's annoyingly catchy theme song proclaimed, "Where can you goooooo/When the world won't treat you right?/The answer is hooooome/That's the one place that you'll fiiinnd seeaa-venth heaven."

Cristina Silva can be reached at 727 893-8846 or csilva@sptimes.com.


7th Heaven

The final episode of 7th Heaven, "And Away We Go..., " begins at 8 p.m. Sunday on the CW Television Network.

By the numbers

7 Original Camden family members hence 7th Heaven. The addition of twins Sam and David bring the clan to seven children, keeping with the theme.

243 Episodes, including two series finales. The first finale aired May 2006 on the WB; however the show was renewed by the CW shortly after.

Almost all Commandments the Camdens break in the span of the series. Middle children Ruthie and Simon look to other faiths during a moment of crisis, questioning their Judeo-Christian God. Mary stops going to church, therefore breaking the Sabbath. Ruthie fails to honor her parents when, in a heated moment, she tells her mother she hates her. Twins Sam and David steal money from the family coin jar. Lucy covets her sister Mary's good looks and many admirers. Simon kills a young boy in a car accident. All of the children occasionally lie to get out of trouble.

11 Children conceived by the original seven Camdens. Annie gives birth to the twins in the third season. Mary has a son, and later twin sons. Matt also has twin sons. Lucy has a daughter and miscarries twins. In case you weren't watching closely, Lucy recently announced she's pregnant again.

7 Episodes in which Camdens almost have premarital sex. Simon considers having sex with three girlfriends, even going as far as carrying a condom, before finally losing his virginity in college. In high school, Lucy wonders if she can use sex to make her boyfriend want her more. Mary considers having sex with a hot boyfriend. At least once, Matt almost crosses the line. Ruthie sneaks a boyfriend over when she is babysitting, but doesn't sleep with him.

10 People the Camdens invite to move into the house, including at least three homeless teenagers, Lucy's future husband and an aunt.