TLC is poised to mine ratings gold from what would have to be considered a micro-niche: programs about people leaving churches.
Deadline.com reports that the cable channel has two new shows on tap in the genre: "Breaking the Faith" and "Escaping the Prophet." Both programs take aim at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS.
"The FLDS religion remains one of the most secretive communities in America, a world of unquestioned authority, arranged marriage, and little contact to the outside world," TLC said in its announcement. "Often in the headlines for its extreme beliefs and behaviors, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints continues to be led by its president — and self-described prophet — Warren Jeffs, despite his 2011 conviction on two felony counts of child sexual assault. With an estimated 10,000 followers of the church, no series has fully explored the experiences of individuals who choose to leave the compound — until now."
TLC will televise a sneak peek of "Breaking the Faith" within the season finale of another show about people’s struggle with their church, "Breaking Amish: L.A.," this Sunday, Sept. 29, Deadline notes. The program’s premiere is set for Nov. 24.
"Breaking the Faith" tracks eight young men and women as they try to start new lives after escaping the FLDS community, the network says. "The young men, known as lost boys, are cast-outs from their homes and not welcomed back, while the women are escaping the controlling ways of the community — including arranged marriage and a life of complete submission, known as “keeping sweet” — and are hoping for a better life on the outside," the TLC announcement says.
"Escaping the Prophet," set for a December premiere, "follows ex-FLDS member Flora Jessop on her mission to take down one of the most reportedly dangerous polygamist cults in America," TLC says. "Flora, a social activist, an advocate for abused children, and the author of the 2009 book ‘Church of Lies,’ had endured extreme abuse during her life in the church, until she escaped at the age of 16. Now, she works closely with law enforcement, the Attorney General of Arizona, and a network of inside informants to help rescue runaways and extract victims within the community, as well as help empower families who choose to stay and fight."