In Tuesday night’s episode of Glee, the enormously gifted Lea Michele sang “Papa Can You Hear Me” from Yentl, a bittersweet and beautiful song in which the singer calls out to her dead father beyond the grave. Even I’m too young to really remember the original Barbara Streisand recording, but I certainly remember well the R.E.M. hit “Losing My Religion” as wailed by the melodramatic Michael Stipe and the ground-breaking (at the time) “What If God Was One of Us” by Joan Osborne.
Much has been said about Glee in its short run so far: some critics feel that it’s an incredible show and others find it a bit overrated. (I’ll admit, I’m in the latter camp.) One thing is for sure, though; young people are seeing themselves in this show. In this episode, centering on faith, both the bullied Kurt and the bullying Coach Sue question the existence of God.
Producer Ryan Murphy says of this episode, “The older I get the more I feel like God Is a collective good. I think that’s what the episode is saying. That’s what all these kids are desperately trying to find in their lives.”
As Alissa Mesibov of The Massachusetts Daily Collegian wrote in her episode recap, “When Burt, who is still hooked up to hospital machines and cannot yet open his eyes, squeezes Kurt’s hands, Glee reached a moment of perfection that has not been seen since early in season 1.” She says, “The point is that faith in someone or something is what inspires the will to live.” Given the amount of stories we’ve shared about school suicides in the last week, maybe we should all take the message of this dorky little musical theatre show to heart.