By: Janice Malone
Murfreesboro, TN–Ben and Jewel Tankard and their larger-than-life brood of five grown children are the stars of Bravo’s highly-anticipated break-out series, “Thicker Than Water: The Tankards,” which premiered last Sunday, complete with high ratings. In fact, Industry insiders are calling this series the Best New Series of the Year.The show is a self-described cross between the iconic Cosby Show’s “Huxtables” and ”The Brady Bunch.” This devout southern Christian family integrates their strong religious conviction with their penchant for the finer things in life. Under the watchful eye of the patriarch and matriarch, the Tankard children, although young adults, still live at home and must abide by Ben and Jewel’s rules. With the belief that “God wants us all to be millionaires,” the Tankards aim to be the best and brightest in everything they do. But long before national television audiences discovered the talent and uplifting messages of the Tankards, Nashville area people have been more than familiar with their ministry and church, The Destiny Center in Murfreesboro.
The Tankards hail from humble beginnings with a faith infused rags-to-riches story. Their new reality show has been described as “Zany, irreverent, God-centered, drama-filled and provincial but loving the luxe life — this new-southern heartland family headed by its artistic patriarch may be flawed, but with a heart of gold and a fierce allegiance to their clan. Last week the Tankards finished taping season one of the series and promise viewers they will be in for many surprises, do stay tuned each week. Here, Ben and Jewel Tankard chat more about what viewers can expect to see from them on Thicker than Water.
TRIBUNE: What can viewers expect from your new reality show?
B. TANKARD: “It’s five children; two daughter-in-laws; one grandchild and one housekeeper and most of the time they’re all under the same roof. Viewers will some life lessons and all kinds of challenges. I call it ‘christian calamities with a kingdom conclusion.’ Thank God that the Blood of Jesus is thicker than the water of our foolishness!”
J. TANKARD: “Viewers will also see a glimpse of sibling rivalry, especially with one of my sisters and how I react to some of the things she says to me. So I agree with Ben, a lot of life lessons can be learned from watching the show.”
TRIBUNE: Do you think that Christians doing reality TV shows will become a hot new trend?
B. TANKARD: “It reminds me of when I was growing up and we would see a Black person on television back then. I would say, ‘Hey, momma look quick. It’s a colored person on TV! Because back then it was rare to see Black people on TV. So now I see Christians in reality TV just like it was back then. Having Christians on mainstream television now is the beginning of something that should’ve been happening for a long time.”
J. TANKARD: “I agree. I think that in time we’ll see more shows featuring more Christians. I think it’s part of the message of the kingdom of God. I believe God wants us as Christians to influence every area of life. There are so many people out here who may never enter inside of a church but will watch a television show. I think in time as people start to see more Christians on television it won’t be such a big deal. But like with most things, whenever something is new it tends to make people nervous.”
TRIBUNE: So what do you guys think about the controversial new reality show PREACHERS OF L.A.?
J, TANKARD: “Some of the preachers in the cast are personal friends of ours. I respect all of them for having the courage to step out like they have because I knew it took a lot of courage to do that because it did for us too. What disturbs me is how some Christians have just put these ministers down so hard and harshly.”
B. TANKARD: “I have a friend who’s an ex-NBA player who’s seen the show. We were shooting balls on the basketball court recently. Now, I’ve been working hard to try to get the guy saved. So I asked him what did he think about the Preachers of L.A. show? He said that he really didn’t have a problem with the contents of the show but he went online and saw the harsh comments that Christians were making about the show. He said, ‘Ben if I get saved and make a mistake, are Christians gonna turn on me and talk bad about me like this too?’
TRIBUNE: Good question. What did you say?
B. TANKARD: “I was so embarrassed. I just shot the basketball…But I think that the Preachers of L.A. show is only going to get better with each episode and each season of it.”
TRIBUNE: What do you want viewers to walk away with after watching your new show Thicker Than Water?
B. TANKARD: “I want this show to ignite the fire of viewers’ dreams in life. I believe the economy, the war and just real life problems have dashed the hopes and dreams of people to dream big. I would like for them to watch the show and say, ‘Oh my goodness. It’s possible for me too and I’m going to get back to dreaming again. I also want people to watch this show and have a higher standard to want to reunite with long lost family members.
J. TANKARD: “Thicker than water means this: no matter what you’ve gone through, blood is thicker than water. It’s time to stop letting funerals be the only time to see family members. Instead, start attending reunions and making regular conference calls with family members.”
B. TANKARD: “Before we close out, I just want to say a big thank you to Mrs. Perry and the Tribune for how they have supported my career over the last 20 years. When I first started doing gospel jazz I wasn’t nearly as anointed as I am now but you guys still promoted and supported me anyway. And I appreciate this publication so much.”
Thicker Than Water airs on the Bravo Network every Sunday at 8pm (Central time) Visit their website at: www.bravotv.com/people/ben-tankard