What a very special episode of Glee: Our favorite musical misfits took on the hot topic of teen bullying... and juvenile delinquents... and gay boyfriends...and imagined old butch ladies in tutus. Yes, all very pressing issues of the day.
While the episode was a little pat in the end, it dealt with all the topics admirably. Of course the gay bullying centered around Kurt, who keeps getting slammed into his locker by some fat football player whose name I don't remember, but we will call Fury, because that's the oh-so-original name he gives his fist. Being the only gay in school and being constantly tortured for wearing sweater capes and bow ties made out of old watches is starting to get to Kurt. While he was probably wrong for criticizing Mr. Schue for making him sing with the boys team in the Second Annual Great American Boys Vs. Girls Mash-Up (Retch) Sing-Along, he was right that so many grownups are quick to let homophobia slide, or don't even recognize it and its many faces when it appears. Just remember, Kurt, being gay doesn't make you any less of a man. Except when it comes time to change a tire or do home repairs. Then it's time to play the gay card.
While Kurt was feeling alienated, Artie was making a new friend. Puck is out of juvie and has to do community service to stay out, so he volunteers to wheel Artie around and make him cool so that he can win back Brittany or Tina or whatever girl it's convenient for him to woo this week.
It's official, the Bob Marley song "One Love (People Get Ready)" marks the end of Puck's streak of only singing songs by Jewish artists—unless Rastafarians are some crazy offshoot of Judiasm that I Just don't know about. I'm going to withhold my comments about reggae as a genre for some other time, but this is definitely a song that a teenage stoner like Puck would know all the chords and words too. He and Artie do a good job entertaining the school with it, making a bunch of cash, and even impressing Santana and Brittany just a little bit. These two are really getting together and feeling alright.
Kurt isn't feeling the love though. He convinces Mr. Schue to let the boys sing songs traditionally sung by women and vice versa for the girls group. It's all about doing the opposite of what one would usually do. Babygay Kurt is all excited to sing lead on a Diana Ross song and get out his feather boa. Puck and the boys remind him that is way too expected and tell him to stop bothering them and go check out the Dalton Academy Warblers, the all-boys choir that they have to compete against at Sectionals.
Babygay Kurt does and walks into his own Brideshead Revisited fantasia.
This show choir rendition of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" definitely wins song of the night. Not only was it a slightly different version of the original but its sentiment fit perfectly into the episode, there was a good reason for it being sung, and then there's Blaine. Oh, Blaine, Blaine, Blaine, be still my heart and loins, Blaine. Sure it's the name of a the villain in every John Hughes movie and the only name gayer than Dustin and Jayden, but Blaine sure is something. Witty, charming, handsome, talented, and the only person on earth who looks better than Prince Harry in a schoolboy uniform, Kurt is immediately smitten with Blaine. Blaine, Blaine, our beautiful Blaine.
But Kurt's teenage dream isn't just going all the way tonight with Blaine. He imagines being openly gay in a place like Dalton, where it doesn't matter at all and everyone accepts him for who he is. Moneyed white people really have it easy, don't they? Just as Kurt gets used to running through the antique hallways of Dalton he's dropped back to McKinley, where he's an outcast, and it's even worse because now he knows that there is a perfect school out there for him and he can't afford to go there. Poor Babygay Kurt.
All the other boys in Glee are dreaming too, but they're dreaming of burly Coach Bieste. None of the girls (and Mike Chang) will put out so all the boys need to think of something to cool them off when they're getting hot and heavy with their partners. Finn, of course, has his mental image of running over a postman, but Sam settles on the image of Coach Bieste chopping meat. Man, that is a wood kill even for lesbians! It's so effective that the technique quickly spreads around the school—Tina's image of Bieste in a tutu smoking a cigar is by far my favorite (and what does that say about Tina's psyche!). Of course Sue Motherfucking Sylvester is going to use this as a way to get her rival Bieste fired.
Because Glee offered us absolutely no transition into this song, I'm not even going to attempt to write one either.
Didn't we agree that we were never going to do mash-ups (retch) again? Didn't we? Can we agree to that now? OK, thanks. This combination was especially bad. Some mash-ups (retch) are like putting a plug into a socket and the effect is electric. This is more like rubbing two plugs together hoping to get a spark. Really, what do Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" and Microsoft's "Start Me Up" have to do with each other? Nothing! And what do they have to do with the theme of this episode. Nothing! What would we like to see Blaine wearing the next time he appears on Glee? Nothing!
I guess I can use this song, which was the opposite of good, as an example of all the opposite behavior last night. With Blaine's encouragement of "courage" via text (which reminds me that Couragé would be a great drag queen name if pronounced "cour-ag-ay"), Kurt decides to confront Fury and ask him what his problem is, thinking that it will make things better. When he gets Fury all worked up into a fury, instead of beating Babygay Kurt, he kisses him. Wow, I honestly didn't see that coming. Well, a little bit, but I didn't think it would have the impact that it did.
Will is the opposite of smart and he tells Coach Bieste that all the boys imagine her in her underwear when they need their boners to go away. When Will confronted the boys and told them that what they thought about the Coach was akin to mental bullying, I sort of agreed. Bullying isn't always about beating people and calling them names, but the thoughts that get them there in the first place. Thinking about it again, it's sort of a sticky issue. Would we like everyone to accept people who are different from them? Of course. Would we settle for people not accepting the "others" but being civil and not punching them or calling them names? Yes, I guess I would. Tolerance is the first step towards acceptance. Anyway, Bieste is so upset that no one can accept her that she quits her job. Cue Sue's confetti cannons and everyone else's regret.
It was nice to see Rachel Barry play opposite day and not say much and only have one little tiny solo. It was like a sip of sweet, sweet Cherry Coke after eating an entire box of Sour Patch Kids. Even better was Artie and Puck acting the opposite of interested to lure Santana and Brittany out for dinner at Lima, Ohio's premiere gastronomic emporium, Breadstix. When they got there Puck made Artie act the opposite of classy by trying to pull a dine and dash. Like a good boy, Artie paid the bill. Yes, it's hard for Artie to dash in general, but it's also hard for him to break the rules. It's good to see that he's unwilling to compromise his morals to be cool.
In the end, everyone's mind would be freed by love.
This mash-up (retch) was a little bit better. It's sitcomy to think love is what is going to stop prejudice and violence and lead toward acceptance, but it's nice to buy into. After all, no one is watching Glee for the reality. Thanks to the Supremes (BG Kurt got his Diana Ross after all!) "Stop in the Name of Love" and En Vogue's "Free Your Mind," we got a nice little wrap up for this episode about bullying.
Will feels horrible that his kids scared Coach Bieste off and he goes to convince her to come back. Her whole life she's had to deal with people taunting her and thinking she's ugly, and it has taken its toll. Also, she's never been kissed by a guy before. Will's pitch to get her to stay is decent, but he resorts to the old "you're beautiful on the inside" gem. I'm sorry, but that just doesn't cut it. "You're beautiful on the inside" is right up there with the great lies like "It's not you it's me," "size doesn't matter," and "yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." Being beautiful isn't everything in life, but it will sure get you a lot. It will get you attention, probably get you a job, definitely get you laid, and most certainly will get people being nicer to you. Sure, there are plenty of attractive people who are horrible on the inside and blow their chances once their looks have gotten them initial access, but being attractive sure does matter. People who say it doesn't live in a fantasy land, a children's book, or musical dramedy on Fox.
Of course Will does the easy thing and kisses Bieste so now she can't say she's never been kissed. Sorry, Will, but you're missing the point. If you're like, "I'll kiss you because you're beautiful on the inside but forget second base because you're nasty," then you're just as bad as everyone else. Your pity isn't helping Bieste. The boys being truly apologetic does help though, and now that they're not bullying her in thought or deed, she's back at the school. Cue Sue's confetti cannons! Of course, like Santana, we feel like this whole thing could have been averted if more girls just put out, but whatever.
When Puck's probation officer finds out that "pushing around a crip" is him assisting Artie, not doing gang outreach in schools (in Ohio? really?) she threatens to send him back to juvie. Artie stops him in the name of love and vows to help him out. I really like this friendship because it's your classic win-win. Artie gets to be "cool" and feel more confident, and Puck has someone to keep him on the straight and narrow. They're the perfect yin to each other's yang.
Speaking of yangs, Blaine comes to McKinley to help BG Kurt confront Fury about the kiss, and it doesn't go over well. Not only is he paranoid that people will find out he's gay, but he's even angrier than before. Blaine and Kurt try to help him and let him know that he's not alone and they empathize with his confusion, but he's not anywhere near ready to come out yet. Kurt confesses that his first kiss was the one that Fury gave him and that makes me sad. It also makes me think that Blaine should have taken him out for a hot and heavy make out session under the bleachers, but that's just my overactive Corbin Fisher imagination getting the best of me.
I was proud of the way Glee handled the "gay bullying episode," especially when Fury pushes Kurt into his locker again at the end of the episode. Contrary to what we're telling kids these days, it doesn't always get better. Well, it does, but not immediately, and it's hard to put a stop to all those high school assholes. However, the depiction of the actual bullying left a little to be desired. Usually it happens in packs, with a bunch of people against one outsider, and not everyone in that bunch is a repressed homophobe. Yes, this is a musical dramedy on Fox and it doesn't have the time to get into all the nuances of bullying, but this tidy explanation just seemed a little too easy. But at least they had the balls not to wrap it all up and resolve all the problems in 60 short minutes. Glee is definitely living in a fantasy land, but at least it's not a dream.