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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Glee- Grilled Cheesus review

Our thoughts about the episode going into it
We were both excited for and wary of this episode from the start. On the one hand, it’s not a silly tribute episode (we've had enough of that for now), and it might actually have a plot worthy of the characters. Also, we like religion and those discussions. Also also, one of us loves Billy Joel. On the other hand, how can everyone enjoy an episode when they have to sit tensely on their couches, hoping people won’t hurt their feelings by dogging their religious beliefs. Every time a religious person is portrayed as weak or stupid, it effects how much they are respected in the real world, and that’s a big deal. Also, others will be tense through the whole thing because they dislike religion and don’t want their favorite show to turn into a morality play.

Thoughts on the spirituality in the episode
First, we respect Glee for being so balanced and inclusive in this episode regarding the issue of whether there is a God. But for an episode on grief and spirituality, we thought the episode was shockingly shallow and actually not controversial enough. Everything the characters said about God has already been said in countless movies and TV shows. There was no, “Wow, I should think about that” moment. There was nothing unsettling, other than Emma’s comment that atheism was arrogant and Mercedes’ comment that Kurt might be shutting himself off from something. The atheists and agnostics came off as whiners who didn’t believe in God because he doesn’t act as their personal vending machine. The religious people came off as dim, but well-meaning. The episode was FAIR, we will give it that. But no other religions than Judaism and Christianity were represented. As bloggers who are interested in religions in general, we think this episode missed opportunities to really bring up some good questions and show authentic faiths. Couldn’t they hire Rob Bell (who can make even the most mundane thing sound spiritual and life changing) or Richard Dawkins to consult? Whatever happened to compelling and awesome religious thought in art and entertainment? Read the chapter “The Grand Inquisitor” in The Brothers Karamazov. THAT’S how it’s done. The episode was too fair, too sensitive, and too surface-level. And maybe we are biased because both bloggers read a lot of theology, so we we're used to stuff that packs a bigger punch. But come on. The average teen has come across everything Glee had to say about religion last night.

Thoughts on gay people and other “outcasts” going to church
The episode touched on how Kurt felt unwelcome at church, because he is gay. In light of the recent gay suicides, we thought we’d comment on this a little. We think it’s really sad that gay, imperfect, unique, and female people often feel unwelcome in church. The weirdos in society are just the sort of people Jesus was rumored to have hung out with. God loves gay people. Don’t let anyone tell you different. The church has a lot of work to do to become the sort of place where people who don’t fit a certain mold feel loved. For now, small groups of like-minded, spiritual people can provide fellowship and support. Trust us. This blogger is straight and never fit in much in church either.

Thoughts on episode happenings
Finn started the religion thing off because the burned bit of his grilled cheese sandwich looked like Jesus. He started praying to this “grilled Cheesus” for selfish, but funny things like “to be quarterback on the football team” and “to touch Rachel’s boobs". He wanted the Glee club to honor Jesus Christ through song (cueing the funniest look ever to cross Rachel’s face). But because no religion episode would be complete without some suffering to bring it to light, things got serious when Kurt’s dad had a heart attack. How could cruel fate (or God) strike down a man who once bought his six-year-old son a “Maria bonnet”? Although, we can’t say that we ever actually saw Maria wearing a bonnet in The Sound of Music. Sue, Will, Emma, Kurt, Quinn, and others fought about whether to pray for Kurt’s dad and whether to sing spiritual songs in Glee club. Mercedes was able to get Kurt to go to church with her. Don’t worry Kurt, this is TV. On TV, the only nice Christians are black, so we knew you’d be ok. Then Mercedes threw out the old “if you don’t believe in God, at least just believe in something” cliché (best used in Serenity, IMO). In the end, Kurt’s comatose father squeezed his hand, which indicates that he may recover. Yay! He’s one of our favorite characters on the show. This blogger didn’t cry during this episode. Maybe it was because we were supposed to feel sorry for Kurt, who was treating everyone badly and censoring other kids. Maybe it was because of the ungodly number of commercial breaks that brought this blogger out of the episode too much. Just didn’t feel it. We enjoyed Sue bringing her funny George Carlin-flavored views on religion, and we also enjoyed the Brittany line" Whenever I pray, I fall asleep". Also, good casting on younger Kurt. He looked just like Chris Colfer! And we loved your church hat, Kurt. Message to Finn: we can’t believe you ate the grilled cheesus after all that time. GROSS.

Thoughts on the musical numbers:
Only the Good Die Young by Puck- Puck is one of the strongest male singing voices on the show (but that’s not saying much), so we are glad that he got another solo. It was a fun way to start off the night before things got too heavy. And one of us loves Billy Joel.
I Look to You by Mercedes- This song should have been sung in the church, and the other one should have been scrapped for something different. We can’t believe we actually got to hear Mercedes sing pretty. She is usually screeching in the background or screaming her way through something like “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” We like to hear variety from her. We like how it started out nice and then she got to really rip through it. We bought this one as a single immediately.
Papa, Can You Hear Me? by Rachel- You know we love Lea Michele’s voice. It’s 90% of the reason we watch this show. But we’ve gotta say, as nicely as the scene was filmed, we prefer Barbra Streisand’s version in Yentl, especially on the big notes. Rachel’s voice naturally sits a little higher than this, so her tone wasn’t as full as Barbra’s on those notes. Still, a good effort. And we like the way she did the speaking parts of this song. It sounded less lame than Babs.
I Want to Hold Your Hand by Kurt- If Kurt wasn’t being such a butt this episode, we would have enjoyed this more and really felt for him. But we did enjoy the montage of scenes with Kurt and his father when Kurt was younger. Kurt’s voice is beautiful, and we like this version. However, this blogger’s brother, who has his own recording studio, says that Kurt’s voice is heavily autotuned on the high notes. Bummer.
Losing My Religion by Finn- This song was fitting for the episode, but Finn’s voice isn’t very good, so we didn’t enjoy it that much.
Bridge Over Troubled Water by Mercedes- This song is really overdone (but still good). By the time Andrea Bocelli and Mary J. Blige whipped it out of their back pockets this summer, we were like, “Ok, this is boring.” The choir overpowered Mercedes, so she was reduced to background shrieking again.
One of Us by New Directions- That is a nice, neutral spiritual song with which to end the episode. We thought it was a little blah though. There are plenty of better spiritual songs they could have used. Maybe something by U2? Still, we liked this one.

We know many critics and viewers are going to rave about this episode because of how Kurt-centered and sensitive it was, but we've got to give it an episode grade of C+.

Watch it for yourselves here:


  1. This is going to be a long comment, and I apologize. I think I agree with your assessment of the episode, and mad props for referencing the Grand Inquisitor scene. On the one hand, it was ballsy that a show like this would try to discuss religion for an entire episode, but on the other, it mostly went for vanilla generalizations like that whole "you've gotta believe in something" thing. I did like what Emma said to Finn about how everyone wrestles with these questions because they're big questions, though.

    Kurt was being a total butt (as you say) during the episode, and he was difficult to sympathize with, but his anger with God (which he was calling atheism) gave us a chance to see another layer to the character. I think he was supposed to come across sympathetically, but the fact that he didn't is way more interesting to me.

    On the music: I HATE the song "Losing My Religion"! It tries so hard to be "deep" and "honest" that it actually turns into bad emo confessional time instead. Ugh. Hated it when I was in high school; hate in their high school.

    I agree that Mercedes singing lead and not just belting is nice to hear sometimes. When I saw the song list for the episode, I had high expectations for "Bridge Over Troubled Water", but it just didn't get there for me. Both the Simon & Garfunkel original and the Johnny Cash version have ruined me on subsequent covers of that tune.

    Last of all, your autotune revelation about Kurt is making me feel weird.

  2. Words cannot express how much we love a long comment to get us through these long, cold classes where we blog and browse the internet just for something to do. So write a book on here if you have stuff to say.

    Honestly, we've had over 1,200 hits today (last time we checked) and two comments. People are lazy and disappointingly unopinionated...

    We have seen the episode in a new light because of your Kurt observation. It IS interesting that he didn't come across as his usual loveable hero.

    This blogger has never actually listened to the words to "Losing My Religion." While the title is edgy, the tune is lacking. Now we know we don't have to bother.

    Most of the guys are heavily autotuned, but Kurt and Finn are the ones who live on it. We think Chord Overstreet probably has the best voice on the show right now.

    We can't wait for the Broadway-laden duet episode next week where he gets his song with Quinn :)

  3. I mean, Kurt's voice has always sounded autotuned, but my naive, TV-loving self wanted to believe that it was the actual tone and texture of his voice. Tear. I think you're probably right about Chord Overstreet's voice. The men on the show are nowhere near the vocal talent level of the women, although Jonathan Groff was pretty great. Btw, if you have insider info about Lea's voice being autotuned, for the love of Tivo, keep it a secret!

  4. We're sure her voice is enhanced and touched a little, but we think she's just about that good live. We'veseen youtube vides. It's probably the least doctored.

  5. Kurt being a "butt" was important because many people felt that he was put too much on a pedestal (Saint Kurt)... This is not the first time that Kurt was portrayed as a jerk... Remember how he sabotaged Rachel's look and stalked Finn ? (in "Sexy" , Kurt was also a jerk towards his father and his love interest)...I think it was a bold move to make a lovable character less lovable...
    Whether Chris Colfer is autotuned or not , we just have to watch their live performances... I do noticed that Chris had more trouble with his solo than with his duet with Lea Michele in Glee Live performances in May 2011.

  6. We're thinking of going to see Glee in concert. It probably won't happen though. They aren't coming to our state, and travel costs money.

    And you are totally right. After seeing this season, we could have used MORE Kurt being a butt moments. He was too much of a saint most of the time.