Right. So let’s talk about it. I mean really, really talk about it. Process, if you want to be all lesbian about it. Yep, I’m talking about “The Break-Up.” (Quit reading now if you haven’t watched last week’s episode of “Glee,” so you can still have some deluded semblance of mystery about what breakup I’m talking about.)
So, Brittana broke up. Santana broke it off with Brittany and we all cried – don’t lie, you cried. My very wise friend Heather Hogan astutely noted in her lovely AfterEllen recap:
For all of its missteps and flip-flops and bizarro misogyny, the one thing Glee has always done exceptionally well is hit us where it hurts. See, because this show isn’t really about what we experienced in our teenage lives; it's a show about how we experienced our teenage lives.
And that’s the thing about “Glee.” When it works, it’s magic. When it doesn’t, it’s a fucking mess. If the emotions aren’t right, there’s no fixing it with a flashy song or dance. You can’t fake The Feelings, especially The Big Gay Feelings. Those either ring true or they don’t. That’s why it was all wrong when Finn song assaulted Santana. That’s not how it would feel if your outer got all up in your grill and lectured you that girls just want to have fun. You’d punch him in the nose with rage, not hug him tight in thanks.
But when Santana sits Brittany down and sings “you are the best thing that’s ever been mine,” you know it’s real. Those emotions, what it feels like to look at the first person you ever loved and know you have to let go, those emotions are ones we’ve almost all felt. Maybe not that exact circumstance, definitely not with those amazing legs that go on forever crossed just so. But the how it felt part, heavens, yes.
Now, we can argue about whether Brittany and Santana had to break up. Why, Ryan Murphy, why? But you can’t argue about how it felt. You can’t argue with the soft, ravaged anguish on Santana’s face. You can’t argue with the raw, pulsing nerve of Brittany’s tears. Breaking up with someone you love, man, does it hurt. Like crumple up your heart into the tightest, hardest ball ever hurt. It’s knowing you are leaving someone you will always love “the most” kind of pain. I can’t say it’s a good hurt, but it’s a true hurt.
And, for all its ridiculousness, that’s what I want from my “Glee.” Not that everything makes sense or is even remotely possible given the laws of physics and constraints of public high school choir budgets. But that the emotions they sell me feel true. Whether it be joy or pain or fabulosity, I want my “Glee” to be honest with me where it counts – The Feelings.
Also, can we take more than a minute and talk about Naya Rivera’s performance? The way emotions wash gently over her face, the way her eyes speak and her voice transcends. Yeah. We have not seen the last of this woman. Not even close.
So am I happy that Santana and Brittany broke up? Fuck, no! I will go down as a proud and faithful crew member of the S.S. Brittana. Let the band play as the ship sinks. I will dance to their beautiful music until the very last millimeter of deck goes under the cold, icy water and descends to the floor of the deep, dark ocean. Too many shipping metaphors? Never! But at least the way they broke up, as much as I hate it, feels real.
In a little over three short seasons this silly show about an even sillier show choir has managed to spin an entirely unsilly story about a super snarky cheerleader and her super sweet best friend who somehow fell in love and made it connect with countless gay girls and straight girls and gay boys and maybe one or two straight boys and more than a few of us who are too old to be called either girls or boys anymore. So while we may complain loudly and passionately and righteously about how some of it was handled and keep a hetero v. homo kiss counter running nonstop in our heads, we cannot deny that in some things the writers and even Ryan Murphy have done some things just right. Even if it was accidental, even if it started as a joke, you can’t deny that Brittana mattered. They touched people, some of them the most vulnerable among us at the most vulnerable times in their lives.
Some people think caring about TV is silly or dumb of that word Brittany hates most, stupid. Sure, it can be. TV isn’t real life, of course. Real life can be so much more mundane and magnificent and everything in between. TV is just TV. But the thing about it, the thing that can make it magic when it works, TV can make us feel real things. Real, horrible, beautiful, heartbreaking things. Oh what “Glee.”