A new comedy special on Netflix called “The First Temptation of Christ” is causing a backlash among Christian groups for its depiction of Jesus Christ as a gay man. It was created by Porta de Fundos, a Brazilian comedy ensemble that’s been making satirical sketches on its YouTube channel since 2012.
According to Variety, 1.8 million people have signed a petition demanding that Netflix pull the show. Marco Feliciano, a Brazilian congressman and pastor, said that “It’s time we took a collective action — churches and all good people — to put an end to this.”
“The First Temptation of Christ” is indeed blasphemous and likely to offend the devout. In addition to a Jesus who comes home with his “friend” Orlando after wandering in the desert for 40 days, it also features a pot-smoking Virgin Mary and a depiction of God as a petty, man-bun-sporting jerk who dismembers people to make a point.
So yes, the show will offend some, but a larger question remains – is it funny? The answer is, “sometimes.” It features a few gags that elicit genuine, involuntary laughter, but at the same time, much of it drags, indicating that Porta de Fundos can produce amusing concepts, but creating a coherent vehicle for them may be more than they can handle.
As is often the case with controversial programming, “The First Temptation of Christ” would likely have come and gone from Netflix without notice had Christian groups not risen to demand its removal. So while it’s good for a few laughs, the outrage its engendered is the only reason anyone outside of Brazil is talking about it.