Yes, Glee went there this week. Religion. It’s a tough subject. It’s a controversial subject. It’s an ironic subject considering last week was the sex-tacular Britney episode, which character Tina points out in a wink to the audience (talk about pre-meditated controversial irony). Yet Glee handled it all with incredible finesse, being open and honest, allowing many a faith (and non-faith) to keep its integrity, avoiding any skewed POV, and side-stepping sappiness.
This is a truly modern look at the complexities of religion and its co-existence with a progressing society. There are no real answers, no one’s right and no one’s wrong, and no one passes judgment on anyone else. Sounds like a fantastical utopia, but the fact is, it isn’t. It exists…between many groups of people. This episode is a simple snapshot of how things are in certain circles.
We have our atheists. When Kurt’s father falls into a coma, we learn that Kurt doesn’t believe in God. His conflict with religion is not uncommon amongst gay people (I myself had my belief in God challenged when I was young, but not because I was obsessed with the Wizard of Oz—it was after I witnessed a fricking nun spank a little boy for running in the hall!). Kurt doesn’t believe in a God whose ‘followers’ torment him. Yet he fails to realize he is surrounded by followers of God (various Gods, actually), all of whom are there to support him, regardless of his disbelief. And then we have Sue Sylvester, who pushes Kurt to file a complaint against Glee club for all the God speak. It at first seems like just another opportunistic moment for Sue to play her nasty political games, but it soon reveals more layers of Sue’s seeming caricature, for her lack of faith stems from the treatment of her sister, who has Down Syndrome. And yet, Sue’s own doubts are challenged by that sister in what is actually the only truly teary-eyed moment in this episode.
We see the passion that the faithful have, like Mercedes, Rachel, Emma Pilsbury and Quinn, none of whom can comprehend how someone could not believe in or turn to God in times of trouble—and why anyone would want to deny someone of the opportunity to do so. The question of whose God is the real God is brought into play very subtly when the kids decide they will all pray around Kurt’s father, because surly ONE of them must be praying to the right God (See? God does have a sense of humor). And we see Finn’s faith falter when he blames bad things happening to good people on God (aren’t most of us guilty of thanking God in good times, but instantly saying “WHY me God???” when things are going bad?). The big questions are asked, and just like in real life, there are no answers, everything is left open-ended, and everyone’s beliefs may be challenged, but essentially, none of them are swayed. It was truly a beautifully orchestrated (and sung!) episode.