10.06.2010

Oh Cheesus Christ, Glee

When Glee started last year, I was excited. Corny jokes, ridiculously awkward social situations, lambasting teachers – it was absurdist situational satire at its best. It poked fun at everything we hated about high school and stood up for everything we were afraid to admit that we loved about it. Plus there was music, and totally annoying auto-tone notwithstanding, it was fun to listen to. And then we could buy the soundtracks and sing along to it, and I know I certainly did, and thanks to some pretty open-minded behind-the-scenes music direction, I even knew most of the songs. Glee was doing for show tunes what Guitar Hero did for classic rock, and the whole first season was anticipated, campy, easy fun.

And now it’s season two, and I don’t know if it’s a sophomore slump or what, but I am just not really enjoying this season. The first bit of the first episode of season two was funny, as vlogger Jacob Ben Israel caught us up on what was going on with New Directions, but from there? Well, it’s been going downhill faster than a celebrity marriage ever since.

And if I thought that the Britney/Brittany episode was slutty and just plain weird, last night’s Grilled Cheesus episode grossed me out even more than Jacob’s pep-rally dry humping did.

I thought that Glee was immune to the patronizing, moralizing, simplistic religious overtures that so many shows indulge in. And I don’t mean that religion never comes into play in Glee – some of my favourite moments were those that – as with so many other topics on the show – poked fun at the topic of religion, whether it was the president of the chastity club getting pregnant or Puck entreating Rachel to make out because they were a couple of good-looking Jews, or Jacob being patted on the ‘Jew cloud,’ or yes, Finn frying up a grilled cheesus. But as far as I could tell, Glee last night was not about theology. It was not about inclusion or faith or tolerance.

From the moment that Tina exclaimed to Kurt, You don’t believe in God?!, my eyes started to roll. Funny enough, my reaction was, OH GOD, NO. Tina doesn’t strike me as the kind of kid that is so incredulous that somebody does not follow the same path that she does, given that so much has been made of her own struggle to remain an individual. It seemed naively out of character, and the fact that pretty much everybody, except maybe Santana (thank you, Santana, for keeping it real), couldn’t understand how a gay kid might not care about the almighty. Call me naive, or maybe progressive, but I really don't expect everybody I know to defend belief in God so vehemently. I guess I expect people - especially teenagers - to maybe, I don't know, question a blind belief in the almighty.

An almighty, I might add, that was of course, the Christian almighty.

Why did Puck have to give a shout-out to Jesus? He’s Jewish, something that he (and Rachel) have been clear and unapologetic about for 25 episodes now, and sorry, but no, Jews don’t worship Jesus. He’s actually not the number one Yid. (Neil Diamond is. Just ask my mother.)

Rachel kept stupidly quiet during the whole fiasco, until finally admitting to Finn that she was uncomfortable with his newfound religion, and that she was, make no mistake, Jewish. Then she rewarded his understanding by letting him touch her boob. That’s more like it, Glee! But still, I hesitate to believe that outspoken, obnoxious know-it-all Rachel Berry would have not objected to the Glee club’s God-fest. Hell, she practically cries discrimination when a solo is given to somebody else.

And then there’s the whole issue of Kurt realizing that, thanks to the God-fearing Mercedes and her most happy Church ever, he doesn’t have to shun the institution that has shunned him! I was ridiculously disappointed in the predictable, self-righteous ideology that it was the prayer, the belief, and not the acupuncture, that finally penetrated his father’s coma. I was ridiculously disappointed that Sue’s handi-capable, charming big sister was able to soften her hard heart and change her mind about the existence of God. We don’t need a kinder, softer Sue. We need the smack-talking bitch that keeps everybody honest and cynical and is out to get Mr. Shue, who, if you’ll allow me to say so, really is a pansy.

Let’s hope Glee remembers what it’s good at and leaves the religious angst where it belongs – because if I want Christian moralizing, proselytizing and self-denying Jews, I’ll watch Little House on the Prairie.


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12 comments:

  1. This episodes seems like it was just destined to be. I saw the moralizing start last season - with self-esteem, be yourself speak. Glee has lost its way. It's no longer flip and fun. I think I'm done - I was done last year when Fin got told off. I'm even more done now. It's going off the DVR. The show has no soul - talk to the almighty about that, writers. Maybe prayers and meditation would help the writing crew, now that I think of it.

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  2. Just one of the many reasons why I love you. I haven't commented on a blog in more than a year. But, as you know, this pissed me off for all the reasons you said ... plus I was actually offended. Dude. Give me back my old Glee!

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  3. We saw things a tiny bit differently but the reaction was the same. Keep your God out of my guilty pleasure. I'm a recovering Catholic, I have enough guilt as it is.

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  4. thank you, thank you. throughout last night's episode i was alternating between cringing and cursing. so nice of them to take the atheist character and alienate him like that. i'm sure he just needed to realize how "crazy" he was being and "chill out". oh ok, now everything is better.

    i wasn't crazy about the Britney Spears episode either, but last night plain-old offended me.

    hopefully it's just a few episode slump, the first season was so entertaining.

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  5. Aunty JennoOctober 06, 2010

    Haven't seen any of this season yet, thanks to living in the middle of no-where and all, but I too felt like the episode that lectured Finn on Gay sensitivity was a little over board. I just want stupid songs and dances. Too much moralizing and lessons to be learned in the real world.

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  6. YES, wtf. It was completely out of character for pretty much everyone but Quinn and Kurt.

    Rachel would have been PISSED. You are right.

    Blargh.

    and no one even took their damn shirt off. Fail Glee.

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  7. Agreed! Would the member of the writing staff who has recently found God kindly remember that laughter is the best medicine? God wants Glee to be funny! I'm going to pray that you find your way back to the glory that was Glee.

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  8. Hmm ... I interpreted the show differently. For instance, when Sue is with her older sister and her sister asks if she wants her to pray for her, I feel like Sue agrees only because she herself is unable to pray because she doesn't believe in God. But she still allows her sister to have the comfort of prayer (she doesn't impose her hard-ass Sue cynicism on her). I liked that part of the show the most. I feel like Sue kept her own (non-)beliefs but managed to let her sister still have her own. Sue looked almost wistful ... like she wished she could still believe in a God, but she just can't.

    Signed,
    Still a gleek ;)

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  9. Totally agree. What's up Ryan Murphy? Have to appease the right-wingers? But I am watching the SNL Glee skit and it's kinda funny.

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  10. I walked out on Glee about 3/4 of the way through the first season. They were forgetting to have any fun.

    Just dropped in to say - your mother is right.

    And? Glee should, like, TOTALLY do a Neil Diamond episode.

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  11. blah, blah, blogOctober 14, 2010

    Well put. Glee really has lost its edge and I'm not enjoying this season as much, either.

    They kept their claws in this episode and I imagine it has to do with the religious climate in the States these days.

    I will play devil's advocate for a moment (yuk yuk): the satire was surely watered down and the message treacly, but I read it more as religious tolerance (albeit it was directed towards atheists as opposed to the Christian mainstream’s need to be more accepting of, oh say, Muslims). Puck’s comment could be read as religious tolerance. That and they wanted to use the term Heb.

    As an agnost on the slippery slope to atheism, I was not offended. Kurt remained atheist, he didn’t pray and he kept his spiritual sense very much in the here and now - his rendition of I want to hold your hand was gorgeous. In the church, I think he was moved by a sense of community and human connection (Mercedes had it right when she said he was shutting off his friends as well as religion). And gospel music can be very powerful even with a lack of belief in the subject matter.

    As for prayer, his classmates going to Burt’s bedside was highly offensive and inappropriate and he was right to turf them out. But again, his positive reflection on the event could have more to do with human connection. His change in attitude towards God (in the context of his sexuality) can be seen as personal growth. The opposite of love is not hate but indifference.

    Rachel probably should have been more out-spoken but her “We need to talk about how your finding Jesus is effecting me” was classic.

    I will say born-agains were portrayed in a negative light. While claiming to be concerned that the closest thing he has to a father is so ill, Finn’s prayers involve petty concerns. (Meanwhile the cool Jew does the uncool thing and prays for Burt’s health). I think they were poking fun at religious practice as self-involvement at the cost of community responsibility. As soon as he realizes that GC is not instant gratification, he eats it.

    As for Sue, she is still very much a heathen, gawd love her. She became more accepting/ appreciative of what religion gives to others (as did Kurt), especially her sister to whom she can not deny anything. But I agree, they should have by-passed the heart-warming aspect of the Sue story line and really played up how ridiculous political correctness vis a vis religion in school has become through her usual intolerance.

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  12. I agree. But what did you think of the Gweneth episode? Me likey!

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