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Scott D. Pierce: Mormon underwear now an issue at ABC

First Published      Last Updated Aug 17 2015 09:33 am

The scene in the upcoming ABC series "Quantico" that features a Mormon character wearing nothing but his LDS underwear will air as-is, according to the president of the network.

The producer/writer of the series, on the other hand, held out the possibility that the scene might be changed before the show premieres Sunday, Sept. 27.

And the folks at ABC clearly wish I'd never written about it in the first place.

"Quantico" is about a bunch of recruits who arrive at the FBI base in Virginia for training. They're assigned roommates, and one is surprised when he sees recruit Eric Packer (Brian J. Smith) changing his clothes and standing there in his temple garments.

Faithful Mormons consider temple garments sacred, and many find it offensive when they are displayed publicly — let alone as a plot point in a TV drama.

ABC president Paul Lee dodged questions about it. When I asked him if ABC would do something that offended Jews or Muslims, Lee replied, "What you're going to find is that many of the characters in this come from different faiths. And behave in ways that are not necessarily in keeping with their faiths."

That's fine, but it's not an answer to the question.

Asked if he was aware that the scene would be offensive to many Mormons — and if he cares — Lee replied, "Yes, we're aware of it. But it's an integral part of the show."

Well, maybe. Maybe not.

Executive producer Joshua Safran, who wrote the episode, said he's familiar with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"I was partially raised by two Mormon women. The Mormon religion has been very important to me," he said. "And when I went down to Quantico and they told me how many Mormon recruits they have, I thought that was really amazing to be able to showcase that."

Showcase that with a scene that will undoubtedly offend a good number of Mormons?

"It's not that," Safran said. "It was more just about — what would that character be doing in that moment? And that is what that character would be doing in that moment."

Changing his clothes, that is.

"It was not meant to be disrespectful in any way," Safran said. "And, I think, moving forward that will become clear."

The Mormon character in the "Quantico" pilot turns out to be a (SPOILER ALERT) huge hypocrite. We learn that he committed some serious sins while he was on his mission and is pretending to be someone he's not. And Lee and Safran both seem to misunderstand that showing any character wearing temple garments, regardless of his/her behavior, is offensive.

The character in the pilot "is not the last Mormon that we will meet in Quantico," Safran said, suggesting others might be better people. And he said it's possible that the garments scene may never air.

"We're reshooting stuff, so wait and see what's in the final cut," he said.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune . Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.