The Gospel According to Glee

I don’t actually watch much TV at the moment, apart from the occasional snippet of "Bargain Hunt" or "Doctors" while eating my lunch (daytime TV... designed to drive people back to work), although I and all the other members of this household can't wait for Dr. Who to return this Easter.

But late Monday night after I’ve got home from playing football, I switch on to watch my current guilty pleasure. Glee… the hit show about an American high school show choir or Glee club… Yes it’s corny, saccharine and crammed full of stereotypes… but it is very well done… and I say it loud and proud "I am a Gleek!"

However, it has recieved a certain amount of criticism recently as being anti-Christian… Certainly much of what goes on would not be what I would recommend for teenagers (such as boosting club funds by holding a bake-sale of cup-cakes augmented with weed), although it is no worse, and a lot better than most TV programmes these days. So far as I can see the only professing Christian in the story is Quinn, cheerleading president of the celibacy club, who is pregnant by one classmate but pretends the father is another, painting the picture of Christians as hypocrites and phonies… That picture was compounded last night as we were introduced to her unforgiving (and Glenn Beck adoring) father... This was particularly interesting given the superb storyline last week about the positive relationship between gay choir member Kurt and his single, mechanic dad. Does this negative portrayal of supposed Christians make it anti-Christian? The overtly Christian characters are stereotypical ciphers, in the same way that most of the other characters are (indeed the series plays on that labelling one choir member "other asian"), but the sad thing is that most of us don't need to think too hard to identify similar people in the real world... that's the whole point of stereotypes.
I’ve also read articles comparing the choirmaster Will Schuster to a Messiah figure, with the Glee club as his 12 disciples... Contrasting with cheerleading Coach Sue Sylvester as the Anti-Christ… If Will is a Messiah he is a very flawed one… and although she is the character we love to hate (she does get the best lines however) the past few weeks' storylines have revealled the softer side and secret sorrows of Coach Sylvester. She didn't appear last night, but doubtless she'll be back next week spitting sulphur.

Seeing the Glee club as Mr Schu's 12 disciples may well be worth thinking about… Because these characters are all losers. Indeed the show logo replaces the second letter of Glee with the L-shaped, hand-on-forehead sign known to all those at the bottom of schoolyard pecking orders.
But through the Glee Club the losers become winners… It isn’t unalloyed success, but each of them discovers hidden depths and talents and the admiration of others. And when Quinn's kicked her out it was the misfits of the choir that in the closing act of last night's episode who assured her and her boyfriend that they were there for them as they sang "Lean on me."
So maybe Glee isn’t so anti-Christian after all…
Because Christ drew his followers from the margins of society… fishermen, a tax man, terrorists, and at least one woman of ill repute. Later Paul reminded the church in Corinth that God works primarily with those whom the world sees as weak and foolish… But it all began with a young unmarried mother called Mary praising the God who brings down the rich and powerful and lifts up the humble and the vulnerable…

(This was originally broadcast in a shorter form as the Just a Moment piece on Downtown Radio last week, 2nd March 2010)


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