With headlines about how various celebrities ranging from Ozzy Osbourne to Russell Brand have “found God”, one might think that religion has been regaining some of its lost ground in mainstream culture. But if the new Hulu comedy series “This Fool” is any indication, Catholicism and religion in general is still the butt of many jokes. Religion is better used as a punchline than any sort of answer to life’s big questions.
“This Fool” is set in modern-day south-central Los Angeles and is based mostly within the frame of L.A. Hispanic culture. As would be expected with that demographic, the family of the show’s main character is Catholic. Despite that, as the show progresses and in the 8th episode in particular, it is revealed that almost everyone in the family is actually atheist, and only the main character, Julio’s grandmother, is not. Yet, as the only seemingly religious person in the family, she drinks, smokes, and secretly has a boyfriend.
All of this is housed in a comedy in which many of the jokes rely heavily on Hispanic culture. This could have easily turned into a mind-numbingly woke, intersectional, racially sensitive mess, but instead the show is refreshingly genuine and grounded in common, real-life experiences. The jokes about family members arguing over who will be a child’s godfather when none of them actually know what that title means, land well because they are so relatable in the current climate of surface level knowledge. Just like how most Christians can’t name the Ten Commandments, less than half of Latino Catholics attend church and nearly a quarter of Latino Catholics identify as “former” Catholics. Overall, Latinos are trending towards Atheism, and “This Fool” both recognizes and perhaps celebrates this fact.
It is not just that “This Fool” exists, but it’s the popularity of the show which is so encouraging for fans of rationality. With a Rotten Tomatoes audience score of more than 90%, the show has been extremely well received. Considering that the “faith based”, AKA Christian film industry has never been able to pull itself out of B-movie territory, even after decades of trying, it’s looking like a clear victory for secular entertainment. The 2020 film “Faith Based” is a satirical comedy based on Christian films. The film was hilariously poorly reviewed by Christian critics mistaking it for an actual Christian movie, but the film was a success, nonetheless. How many films and shows exist which use Atheism as the butt of their jokes? Atheism punchlines just don’t land with audiences the way religious ones do. As “This Fool” has shown us, religion is still very laughable.