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Why I rewatched ‘The Singles Ward’ (and you should, too)

Look, I like to make fun of ‘The Singles Ward,’ too. But while rewatching it, I learned some lessons

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Cammie (Connie Young) and Jonathan (Will Swenson) in “The Singles Ward.”

Cammie (Connie Young) and Jonathan (Will Swenson) in “The Singles Ward.”

Halestorm Entertainment

For those uninitiated in the world of campy Latter-day Saint comedies, “The Singles Ward” chronicles the story of Jonathan Jordan. Jonathan served a mission, got married and then divorced. He has to return to a singles ward after years of inactivity in the church. The comedy pokes fun at what it’s like to be in a singles ward.

A singles ward is a church community where only unmarried people attend. They are common across the United States for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but especially in Utah. Another term for them is young single adult (or YSA) wards.

I rewatched it on a lark because I was with a group of friends from BYU and we wanted to reminisce about our YSA experience, which involved copious amounts of movie watching, Sodalicious and scrap-booking. After watching it again, I was struck by how much of Latter-day Saint culture appears that I missed the first time.

Featuring cameos from well-known Latter-day Saints like Danny Ainge, Ron McBride and LaVell Edwards, “The Singles Ward” acts as a commentary on Latter-day Saint culture, but also on the way that wards often work.

Danny Ainge in “The Singles Ward” is a Sunbeam teacher — he teaches a class of young children at church. While it might seem strange that a former NBA player and general manager of the Celtics is teaching the Sunbeams class, that’s a reflection of how Latter-day Saint wards and stakes work. When watching his cameo, I couldn’t help but remember when I watched businessman and philanthropist Kevin Rollins fold chairs after a stake conference.

Or when I heard from a late patriarch about how whenever President Gordon B. Hinckley was in town, he visited him and always asked to help in any way that he could. The irony of watching Ainge as a Sunbeam teacher is that it’s possible that he could have been a Sunbeam teacher. After all, Sen. Mitt Romney once taught Sunday School.

Additionally, the movie is self-aware. It’s campy, it’s cheesy, it’s awkward, but it resonates in some way with Latter-day Saints who have had the YSA experience, especially in Utah, Arizona and Idaho.

The experience of living in a co-ed apartment and having movie nights is common to the BYU experience, but also recognizing how humorously wholesome Latter-day Saints can be shows the filmmaker’s ability to engage in a touch of self-deprecating humor.

We can all get bogged down in the seriousness of day-to-day life and can even be too critical of ourselves. “The Singles Ward” may be just what you need to remind you to smile back on old memories and to reflect on some of the unique goods that come from Latter-day Saint wards.