Its popularity makes it an easy target. But criticizing the show because of its lack of sophisticated narrative is like shooting fish in a barrel. Of course it doesn’t, that’s not the point. Does that drive a person crazy sometimes? Yes, like what kind of school allows a full-grown man and teacher to perform sexily alongside his underage students? Where is the money for their elaborate costumes keep coming from? Who plays the steel drums in high school? But we keep watching for the fabulosity and the unequivocal championing of the underdog. I’m not a fan of the “A Very Special Episodes” because I think the message is often too heavy handed. And, yes, parts of this week’s “powerful new Glee” were indeed heavy-handed and even cringe-worthy (all that girls like it when you’re mean to them stuff – really?) But parts were unexpected and, dare I say it, deeply moving.
A reviewer recently called Kurt Hummel the most important character on television right now, and he may well be right. While we’ll never be able to scientifically quantify the impact of seeing an out actor play an out high school student with the grace and power of Chris Colfer, make no mistake, it matters. It matters to a scared gay teen who gets tormented in the hallways every day. It matters to the gay adult who finally gets to see his or her adolescence replayed to them on the television. It makes a difference because we love Kurt, we hate his pain, we want things to get better.
The look on Kurt’s face when he sees the all-boys school utopia of tolerance? Heart melting. The look on Kurt’s face when his closeted bully slams him into the locker once again? Heartbreaking.
The homophobic bully who turns out to be a scared homosexual in particular was effective. Sure, it’s been done before. But as every scandal about a bigoted senator/pastor/whathaveyou who turns out to be secretly gay proves, often the roots of homophobia come from deep-seated self hatred.
In the episode’s secondary never-been-kissed storyline, poor Coach Beiste is everyone’s “cooler.” Dot Jones is lovely, bringing layers of sensitivity to what might otherwise be a one-note role. I actually wanted Mr. Shue to kiss her. She deserves it (in fact, she deserves better – Mr. Shue is kind of a tool).
The thing is, Glee needs to work on a lot of things. And there are a million storylines that make me want to go get a sandwich (Finn/Rachel, Sam/Quinn, and for the love of God, stop having Artie say “Yo!”) But when it gets things right, I’m proud to watch. Those leather pants the girls wore last night really didn’t hurt either. Also, Grilled Cheesus, do I love Brittana. (Much more on how much I heart them here.)
p.s. I reserve the right to take back everything I just said if Ryan Murphy puts Brittany and Artie together. I’m serious, I will burn the place down.
p.p.s. Dude, Kurt had 124 unread messages? He is worse than me.