Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Glee Thoughts - Grilled Cheesus

Wow.  This week's episode was topical. 

Kurt's father had a heart attack in what was a pretty manipulative storyline but still managed to be genuinely emotional, mostly because Chris Colfer is so good.  I really enjoyed the Grilled Cheesus plot and Finn's simple-minded faith in the half-sandwich.  And the music, ranging from Yentl to the Beatles to Billy Joel to REM, was fabulous.

But the big news of the episode for me was Kurt's coming out, as an atheist.  There aren't too many atheist characters on TV, although I can think of at least two others right this minute:  House on House and Britta on Community, but it was still nice to see.  And Kurt knew the right arguments and was strong enough not to be swayed by emotional arguments that don't work intellectually.

I was bothered by Mercedes emotional blackmail at the church, but that's probably a pretty realistic scene.  And Kurt didn't have a religious experience, which I feared was going to happen.  Had he embraced religion, it would have been a betrayal of his character.  So the show got that right.

All in all, it was pretty respectful of non-belief and I appreciated that.  It did give touchy-feely religion a bit of a pass, but I can live with that.  Oh, and I wasn't sure what was the point of Kurt's trust in the pseudo-science of acupuncture, but at least it didn't work.


David Fair said...

Lets just say that my thoughts are not the same. i was fairly unhappy that both Sue and Kurt were portrayed as Angry Atheists, and that just reinforces the stereotype that all Atheists are really believers who just mad at god for something not turning out the way they wanted.

Additionally, no one really just accepted Kurt non-belief, rather trying to convert or sway him. Why not show some tolerance?

The completely factually inaccurate representation of disestablishment laws irked me in the extreme. They got so much of it wrong that it is almost like they didn't bother to try to get it right. Oh, yeah, they probably didn't.

I was unhappy that not one of Kurt's friends accepted his request to leave their religion and the doorstep in their attempts to comfort him, in fact they went out of their way to annoy him with it, especially Mercedes. Sue was the only one to recognize how offensive this behavior is.

In all, I don't think the religious characters came across particularly well, either. They are all seen as pushy, in-your face evangelists who don't listen to real objections or consider the feelings of the people they proselytize to. Why couldn't at least one of them be shown praying in private for Kurt's dad, rather than shoving it in Kurt's face by having to show up in his father's hospital room?

The only good parts were Kurt's feelings shown during "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", and the his final acceptance of Mercedes prayers at an act of friendship rather than proselytization.

In my mind, they really blew it by making the characters all take on such stereotypical roles in this episode, and the show suffered greatly because of it.

Ipecac said...

Thanks for the thougtful comments.

I agree that Sue was portrayed as an angry atheist. Sue's reason for disbelief was "I prayed for a cookie, didn't get a cookie, there is no god," which I've never found a compelling reason for disbelief. Her conclusion is correct, but she came to it emotionally, which, in my mind at least, doesn't really separate her from the believers.

However, I'm not sure Kurt was portrayed as an angry atheist. Kurt's disbelief was expressed through the filter of his grief and anger at his Dad's condition. The actual reasons he gave for disbelief were more intellectual, based on a lack of evidence. He expressed them angrily because the rest of the group was, as you say, being pretty intolerant, but I don't think his atheism is based in anger.

I agree that most of the group were being huge jerks, especially Mercedes. And while I personally would have been pissed at the ridiculous prayer circle, I think it made the religious folk look like chumps, their beliefs shallow and stupid. Rachel's (?) line about there being five different belief systems present increasing the chances that one of them would work showed that their beliefs were little more than superstition, which I liked.

They did show Rachel "praying" for Kurt privately (with Finn) in song. Too bad they included her in the hospital group too, thus throwing her in with the zealots.

Agree completely with the muddle they presented as the disestablishment laws. Yikes.

I was most bothered by Mercedes emotional blackmail. She pushes Kurt to go to church by telling him they dedicated the service to his father, thus making him look like a jerk if he declined the invitation. Then she outs him as an atheist in the middle of a group of like-minded believers, and sings an emotion-laden song of "support". Pure emotional blackmail not designed to show support but to pressure him into accepting her religious beliefs.