'Glee' Gets Religion, With Mixed Results



The second season of Glee premiered last month, catching up with New Directions after their loss at Regionals.

To help make sense of it all, we have a panel of musical theater and pop culture buffs—Meghan Brown, Patrick Burns, and Kevin Fallon—to provide their takes on how realistic the show feels, how well the romances develop, and of course, how good the musical numbers are.

They weigh in on this week's show, which has the cast contemplating their views on spirituality after Finn sees a religious symbol in his grilled cheese.

Meghan Brown (co-founder of the Giraffe Hunt Theater in Los Angeles): After last week's shallow Britney-fest, Glee swam towards the deep end tonight with "Grilled Cheesus", an ambitious and ultimately successful rumination on religion, faith, and spirituality in high school.

One thing I've always appreciated about Glee is how it portrays characters as actual teens. We're not watching Gossip Girl, here. Kurt turns the pain of his father's hospitalization on his friends as they cluelessly stumble through the intricacies of one of the show's first truly grown-up situations.

Burt Hummel is a rare and welcome TV character: a good man who loves his son. His storylines with Kurt have been some of the most touching of the series, and tonight's montage of "good dad" moments was an episode highlight (...even if it was to "I Want to Hold Your Hand", which seems like a really, really odd choice).

I also have to take a second to applaud Glee for not having Finn pray to the Grilled Cheesus about Burt. I kept wincing preemptively, expecting a heartfelt confession to a sandwich that had been made in the same George Foreman where Finn puts his shoes (wait, what?), and I appreciated being spared the indignity.

Overall: Go Glee for tactfully tackling a tricky subject with class, humor, and even a little bit of grace.

Kevin Fallon (writer and producer for The Atlantic's Culture channel):Dear Grilled Cheezus (or, as Mercedes so oddly greeted her congregation, Hi Church!),

The wise Britney S. Pierce told poor Kurt, grieving for his dying father, "Heart attacks are just from loving too much." Well then be still my heart and admit me to the ICU, because I love Glee too much to let this episode pass uncriticized.

It all started promisingly enough, with Finn goofily recounting to New Directions about the man who's recently come into his life—Jesus Christ, that is. In the form of a grilled cheese. We were then supposed to be treated a careful examination—presumably with a humorous wink—of the nuances of a person's faith. What resulted instead was a scattershot survey of every spiritual issue under the sun. How God views gays. How God views women. Does prayer work? Church and state, agnosticism—it was all there, as if Ryan Murphy had a check list of hot-button religious issues to cover in the episode.

It was all horribly manipulative—right down to the reappearance of Sue's special needs sister—and completely void of comedy (a severe whiplash from last week's silly-fun Britney Spears outing). If it weren't for Kurt's is-this-really-happening church bonnet, I wouldn't have cracked a smile once the entire episode. Oh, forgive me Grilled Cheesus, I'm lying. I definitely laughed out loud at the mortal sins being done two modern classics. Mark Salling's some computer's rendition of "Only the Good Die Young" and Cory Monteith's "Losing My Religion" defined disaster.

Hopefully after a week of penance, Glee will return to its lovable form. Papa can you hear me?

Patrick Burns (writer, composer, and star of the original one-man-musical, From Foster Care to Fabulous): Religion was a risky subject for this week's episode of Glee. I will admit that I was expecting lots of cheesy Jesus jokes but was pleasantly surprised by the plot that was written for this week. The entire debacle with Kurt and his father was powerful (as plot lines between Kurt and his father tend to be). The way that Kurt's father's condition fueled the group's religious happenings was not only good writing, but led to incredible songs: the best being Mercedes' rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" at church.

Rachel's "Papa Can You Hear Me?" was the most forced part of the episode, especially when she sings to Kurt's father in the hospital. The number was out of place and sub-par for such a well written episode. Sue Sylvester's attempt to understand God through her relationship with her sister was not only clever writing, but a tear-jerking enrichment to Sue's character.

Past Glee panels:

'Glee': Britney Spears Meets Britney S. Pierce

'Glee' Season Premiere: The More Things Change...