Oy vey. Religion. The only topic I have stronger opinions about is animal abuse, so if Glee covers a Michael Vick single, all bets are off, but for now, I’m going to try to check my baggage. It’s too early in the week, and I am way too sober to get serious and heavy with issues of mortality and spirituality, but kudos to Ryan Murphy for tackling a delicate issue in the first place and for doing so in a way that was pretty comprehensive and surprisingly sparse on clichés.
First of all, fabulous hats off to Chris Colfer. I thought his performance was really fantastic… subtle and believable and true to his character. The scene where he sang a reimagined version of the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was genuinely moving. The schmaltz was there – this is Glee, after all – but it was kept at acceptable levels. Musically, it’s an example of what made this show really great – powerful and new interpretations of songs that people have emotional – not commercial – connections to. This was a great example of the show doing it right. Last year’s mother-daughter “Poker Face” rendition was an example of doing it wrong. So very, very wrong.
Along the same lines, I loved Finn’s performance of “Losing my Religion.” The performance itself was fine, though the autotune is getting a little ridiculous this season – WTF was up with Amber Riley’s church performance? But it was the song choice and integration into the plot that I appreciated. It’s one of those songs that makes you think “Oh yeah… I forgot about that song. That was a GREAT song.” I love that feeling of rediscovery, and Glee’s modernization of songs like that is what I really enjoyed about the first season and what I hope to see more of in this season. I’d also like to see a little more subtlety in the integration of songs and plot this year – it’s getting a little Mary Katherine Gallagher in the “my thoughts… on this subject… can best be expressed… by a monologue a song…”
What else would I like to see less of? Sociopathic Rachel. No surprise, in this episode, Rachel is still annoying as shit. “But more importantly, let’s discuss your newfound love for Jesus, and how it’s affecting me.” Whatever. Over it. I guess that’s what they’re going to do with her this season, so fine. I am liking Emma more and more – it’s good to see her being a little more assertive, even though that seems to come at the expense of her quirkiness. Still, I’ll be thinking of her as half orangutan from now on, and that’s freaking hilarious.
Those lines are the best, especially from Sue, because they are so random but seem to come so naturally to her character. I absolutely believe that Sue Sylvester has thought through her wish that Mary Lou Retton’s parents would suffer heart attacks. There was also some interesting background on Sue’s relationship with her sister and how that has affected her attitude toward religion.
All I’ll say on that is that too often, non-belief is depicted as a personal failing instead of a legitimate, conscious, and informed choice. In Emma’s scene with Sue, we see the prevailing attitude that poor Kurt is just misguided and contrary and really needs prayer and spiritual guidance for comfort instead of someone supporting him in the ways he chooses to grieve. In this one instance, I choose to believe that Sue was actually acting out of as much genuine interest for Kurt’s position as she was out of general desire to mess with Schu and the Glee club.
I actually liked this episode quite a bit – some pieces were certainly weaker than others, but I think Chris Colfer’s performance and Finn’s “Grilled Cheesus” religious crisis storyline made it more good than bad. It’s an example of how good Glee can be when it’s powerful and dramatic. I’ve yet to see an episode this season where Glee shows how good it can be when it’s powerful and upbeat and fun, so I’m, uh, praying, that we see that soon. The bottom line is, whether its acupuncture, grilled cheese or God, we’ve all got to believe in something. Personally, I’ve always found cheese very, very comforting.
Ballsy lines for primetime network television:
- “Asking someone to believe in a fantasy, however comforting, isn’t a moral thing to do. It’s cruel.”
- “It’s as arrogant as telling someone how to believe in God, and if they don’t accept it, no matter how open-hearted and honest their dissent, they’re going to hell. Well, that’s doesn’t sound very Christian does it?”
God bless Brittany:
- “I did a book report on heart attacks if you want to give it to the doctor.”
- “Only the Good Die Young.” I enjoyed it… Puck is a fun character, but you could’ve plucked that scene right out and nothing would’ve been affected. It was a total afterthought. And while Lea Michele gets a pass this week, does she have a clause in her contract that she has to sing one overly dramatic ballad/show tune each week? My brother is a vocalist, and I get that those songs show off a singer’s chops, but for those of us who can’t carry a tune in a bucket, it’s just boring.