It is a brave comedy that chooses not to be funny. Plot spoiling follows. Beware.
Last week's episode of Rev showed the Revd Adam Smallbone conducting an illegal gay marriage; having gone to great lengths not to, yet being told off for it anyway, he eventually did conduct such a service, although we were shown it to be done in apparent secret.
In the latest episode his attraction to the local school head-teacher, at a time when he and his wife are struggling with their sexual relationship, takes him to the brink of adultery.
Later, faced with an art installation in the church which manages to confront his 'sin', although it isn't intended to, he destroys it. But he has misinterpreted it. The installation is not Adam and the teacher but the artist, shown in a clerical collar, and his late wife. In breaking the work Adam loses the benefaction of the artist who would have solved the church's financial problems at a stroke. Again and again, the suggestion is, the church shoots itself in the foot.
So we are shown a church that has got so messed up about relationships that it has to skirt around the issue of gay marriage yet smashes an image of a powerful, but lamented, heterosexual relationship. And I think that is what the programme is saying is funny. Not funny ha ha but funny peculiar. Funny odd. Funny for Christ sake sort yourselves out. We want to laugh but it won't let us.
The national church I belong to is slow-moving, confused, pre-occupied by sex and full of pastors who are not leaders. It is stuck with raising huge sums of money for the retention of unsuitable buildings. From ground level hierarchy can seem frustrating. How does Adam get so much of his Archdeacon's time? My archdeacon is one of my best friends and I never get taken anywhere in a taxi. I am left to get on with it and everyone hopes I will not cock things up too much. Or be successful. Because that is just as awkward.
After a ten year incumbency the message that keeps everyone happy is to return the church to the bishop exactly as you found it.
I love this show. It holds a big mirror up to the church and tells it to stop being hopeless. That it takes a TV comedy show to do that is really funny.