Britney Spears may have high-kicked Glee to its highest ratings of all time this week, but a little-known secret is this:
This coming Tuesday, Glee has someone even bigger appearing on the show—Shhhh!—in what many are calling the best episode yet of the entire series.
I just spoke with Glee mastermind Ryan Murphy and here's the huge, supersecret guest-star reveal:
Yes, the big G-man is front and center in Glee's "Grilled Cheesus" episode, which is a provocative, emotional (you will cry) and sometimes hilarious look at faith and spirituality—representing multiple points of view with heart and humor. (The catalyst is that Finn discovers the face of Jesus burned into his grilled cheese sandwich.)
It's arguably Glee's most controversial episode yet—and according to Murphy, brings this season's major story arc front and center.
"The core of the show is really about tolerance," Murphy explains. "I think that's the legacy of Glee more than anything else. So as we began the year we were very conscious of that. Last year the throughline was about teenage pregnancy. And the throughline this year is really about Kurt (Chris Colfer) and his feelings about tolerance, not only in high school and in the world, but also the ripple effect it has on everybody around him."
In this Tuesday's episode, Kurt struggles to accept the religious beliefs of those around him while dealing with some serious issues of his own. "[Tolerance] is a very powerful thing to write about," Murphy adds, "because this week alone three gay teenagers have killed themselves and committed suicide, and we just got asked today to do a PSA on it because it's becoming such an epidemic because of the bullying."
Passionate discussion of dueling religious beliefs is not exactly common fare for prime time, and Murphy credits Fox for believing in this "throwback." "When I was growing up," he says, "I was very inspired by all of the Norman Lear episodes. Like on Maude and All in the Family, which were comedies, he would write about socially relevant issues, be it rape or abortion, and suddenly they don't do that anymore...Everybody at Fox that I've spoken to says this is their favorite episode that we've ever done, and they're all very moved by it and proud of it...It's an odd episode where I think that both Democrats and Republicans could watch together, and at the end of it say 'I agree with it.'"
So now that we know Kurt's story arc is the major throughline for the new season, how about we clear up the conflicting rumors that either Chord Overstreet (Sam) or newcomer Darren Everett Criss (Blaine) will play his new love interest?
Hope you're on your knees because...Praise "Grilled Cheesus!" Finally, an answer!
"It's definitely not Chord," Ryan tells me of Kurt's love interest. "It's not Chord. And the new character [Darren Criss] is certainly an option. I'm not sure how soon I want to [reveal] that information because it's such a big storyline of the year—I want there to be some surprises. But Darren has a major, major arc. He sort of becomes Kurt's mentor and then maybe love—he had to leave his own school because of bullying and goes to an all-boys academy and finds acceptance because that school has a no-bullying, zero-tolerance policy. So Kurt really admires him and respects him. He plays someone who's one year older than Chris' character, so he's the old pro."
And in case you hadn't heard, Darren's now a clean-cut pro, too! When I (jokingly) asked if Darren Criss recently chopped off all his long, moppy locks because the budget couldn't support enough hair gel for him and Matthew Morrison, Ryan gasped:
"What?! I have not heard this! Did he really cut off all his hair? He did not do that for the show! But we cast Darren for his exceptional voice and talent, so if he shows up with a bald head, I guess I'll have to make it work…As for Matthew, you know, he just uses Lubriderm, so that won't break the bank." Love. It.
This was part one of my interview with Ryan. Stand by for part deux, with more scoop on the relationships, returning guest stars and more—and don't forget to tune in this Tuesday for Glee's most emotional episode yet. Let it be said now ('cause everyone will be saying it then): Chris Colfer's performance will knock the wind out of you.
Follow @kristindsantos on Twitter for more delicious (mmm...grilled cheese) updates on Glee and your favorite shows!