Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Time makes you bolder

Glee gets so many things wrong. Continuity, consistent characterization, coherent plot progression, comprehensible Glee Club budgets. But when it gets things right, it gets them really right. And last night’s episode was all right when it came to gay teens. Not “all right,” like that pizza was all right – maybe I’ll have another slice. But “all right,” as in there was absolutely nothing remotely wrong with it. In fact, it may be one of my favorite “Glee” episodes ever because the characters were allowed to feel real emotions and have real conversations. This wasn’t about being quippy or snarky, but about how scary and exhilarating and painful it can be to examine the inner workings of your heart for the very first time.

This episode was a gift to gay teens, boys and girls. Kurt and his father’s frank talk about sex was something you don’t really see on American TV when it comes to straight kids, let alone gay ones. That confusion about figuring out what gay sex and sexuality is, that’s real – even in the age of the Internet. And then there was Santana’s heart-wrenching admission to both herself and Brittany that she loved her. These are two major gay storylines running in the same episode of a major primetime television show. This was a Joe Biden-worthy big fucking deal. Let’s be clear – this isn’t cable, this is broadcast. This isn’t a tiny show only the critics love, this is “Glee.” This is a program even your grandma knows exists.

I’m sure some of you are upset that Brittany turned down Santana – or at least turned her down for the time being. But that scene rang true – and that’s not something you can always say about “Glee.” It was a coming out – to oneself, to the person you love – that is like so many comings out. The trepidation. The confusion. The bravery. The vulnerability. It was the second please that said it all. When Santana finally put it all on the line: “Please say you love me back. Please.” That second please, that whisper, that prayer. It’s raw. Naked. Utterly defenseless. It’s the please we’ve all said before, a plea sent into the deepest depths of the universe. And if the answer isn’t “yes,” it seems the world simply cannot keep spinning. And if the answer is “yes,” but still somehow “no” – it seems like the world should go ahead and stop.

Certainly, you could argue that Brittany turning down Santana after it seemed all along that she was the one most interested in making their relationship something more was out of character. But to me it still felt honest. While not everything needs a label, if we must for the sake of expediency and clarity, I’d say that Brittany is probably more bisexual and Santana is probably more lesbian. But, again, what they really are is fluid, and that’s OK. There are gay men and lesbian women and bi men and bi women and trans folks and questioning people and everything else under the glorious rainbow in this big wide world. Showing the full spectrum isn’t problematic, it’s real life.

So then, Brittany saying she can’t be with Santana because of Artie also makes sense. She is already in a relationship. That doesn’t mean I have to like it and don’t not-so-secretly want to find a tall cliff to push him off of (his character, I’m not espousing actual homicide – yet). But she had made a commitment to him and doesn’t want to hurt him. My God, who hasn’t been on the receiving end of that speech? The important thing, the thing to cling to, is that Brittany loves Santana back. “I am so yours.”

Being gay can be really fucking confusing. If it’s not confusing for you, you’re lucky. It’s hard enough to find someone you love. And harder to find someone you love who loves you back. It’s even harder still when 90 percent of the planet doesn’t love the same way you love. And it’s hardest when you’re a teenager and you don’t know what it’s like to really love another person yet. So to see that struggle – not just about what it means to be gay, but what it means to be gay and lay your heart bare to another person – that matters.

Am I anxious to see how the writers handle Brittany and Santana’s relationship from here on out? Of course. I would be livid if they became yet another casualty of Glee’s gaping vortex of unresolved storylines. But I have to believe that the fact that they’ve even made it this far means there is more to come. Make no mistake, the fans made this relationship happen. I think the writers would have happily left them as a continuing in-joke. They would be a little sexy girl-on-girl aside to Kurt’s Major Gay Storyline, all caps. But Brittana fans demanded it, willed it out of love and tears and fanfic and endless hours on Photoshop.

Sure, I would have liked to have seen some sweet lady kisses in this episode, but to be honest, at this point I’d rather see complex processing of emotions. Yes, I realize that’s the most lesbian thing I think I’ve ever typed ever. But this just feels more like progress. And, never to be forgotten, are the wonderful, nuanced performances and tireless, wholehearted support of the actresses themselves. Naya Rivera and Heather Morris are the reason this ship left the dock in the first place.

Is this the happy ending we’ve been dreaming about? Well, clearly, no. But remember, every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. This is just the beginning of Brittana.

[Every Brittana scene from last night. Get your Kleenex.]

p.s. On a lighter note, I’d like to personally thank Gwyneth Paltrow for coining a new euphemism for lesbian sex: Go forth and get your Stevie Nicks on, ladies.


sonja said...

I agree that the episode was great, and I'm very happy with it overall. However, I'm not quite as okay with Brittany's response to Santana. Brittany was the one who pushed Santana to talk about/admit her true feelings. Why do that if, in the end, you're not willing to change anything? If the end result, no matter what, is "I'm going to stay with my boyfriend" then why are you so desperate to know what's going on with Santana? It seems like you only push this issue if you want something to change.

But besides that inconsistency (and as you pointed out, what is Glee if not inconsistent), I loved loved loved that episode. I think it was the most emotional episode of Glee I've ever seen. I can't wait to see where this all goes.

Anonymous said...

I got up freakishly early this morning to download the episode so that I could watch it before work and I was really impressed with it, but I admit that I shed a tear when Brittany rejected Santana. And not just because I was awake before 6am.
Poor Santana!
But I don't think that Brittany and Artie will be together for much longer. I bloody hope that they split up soon anyway!

Rachel said...

Ms. Snarker, I completely agree with every point you wrote. I'm so glad that you put it so perfectly into words. My mind has been racing with the same thoughts/emotions since last night's episode. I rewatched the clips of just the two of them, and the emotion that they both portrayed was brilliant...but a special nod to Naya Rivera (and the writers). Wow. I was left re-experincing the same raw emotions that hit me in the gut when I first started to examine the powerful feelings I had for my first love. Did they get it right? Oh yes, they got it oh so right.

Christina said...

Ohmygosh ohmygoshohmygosh!!! It's 12.49 am...Do I download and watch tonight??? I have work in 7.25 hours....Dammmit I wanna live in America!

...I'm gonna need some redbull in the morning...

The Notorious H.A.M. said...

I also agree with your take on the episode and it was great to see a show really "get it" about both Kurt's and Brittana's storylines. Even Brittany's pushing for amswers and then rejection felt real because people, especially kids, who are still figuring themselves out can be wildly inconsistent. My only disappointment is that still no gay character on the show has been allowed to have someone - a bf/gf, a true love, even a date. I know this might seem like it rings true for gay kids in general, but it really doesn't. Not in 2011, even in Ohio. Hell, it didn't even ring true for all gay kids in 2001, 1991, or 1981. One of my friends took a girl to the prom in the early 80s - in Iowa! I just feel that if a town is big enough to have a Gap, it is big enough for there to be a few other gay kids for these characters to have met, and not just ones who want to kill them or avoid statutory rape.

Anonymous said...

OMG someone complied Brittana parts so quickly...I believe in God now!
Thank You

lisa said...

I have a love/hate relationship with Glee, (and an all hate relationship with Ryan Murphy).
Even this story line is love/hate. I love, love, love that it is being portrayed so honestly, and realistically.
But I cannot deal with how stupid they write Brittany. She's past stupid, she's non-functioning. And that's where reality flies the coop.

Vikki said...

It was an incredibly episode, shocking in its raw honesty. I teared up in numerous parts. My heart broke for Santana - coming to accept her feelings, having the courage to say them out loud and then not being able to be with the person she painful. I agree, however - it all seemed so real. Bravo to the writers and to Naya and Heather.

Anonymous said...

Still not sure whether this episode was awesome or a kick in the ovaries, but Santana's reaction on that video at 8:02 when Brittany says she loves Artie... and so say all of us!

Ava said...

Thank you so much for this post, it's everything I wanted to say about the Santana/Brittany storyline. This was probably the most realistic portrayal of how it feels to be young & questioning that I have ever seen in any film or television show. The emotions that Santana revealed in that last scene are universal to anyone who has ever questioned their sexuality - the confusion in trying to figure out what you really feel, and that deep-seated fear of the consequences of revealing those feelings. Naya Rivera nailed every scene & I honestly don't think this story could've happened without her and Heather to guide these characters.

Regarding Brittany choosing to stay with Artie - it made me angry at first, but the more I thought about it the more I understood why she made that choice. I don't think Brittany is emotionally mature enough to realize that by pushing Santana to discuss her feelings she opened up the proverbial can of worms. She does love Artie, but on a superficial level. I don't think she understands the full scope of Santana's feelings for her because she isn't mature enough to have the same depth of feelings herself. I'm interested to see how this plays out, and hope the writers can come up with a realistic solution that will have Santana & Brittany end up together.

frannie said...

This just left me, feeling. That's the only word I can think of. I sat in awe at the expression on Naya's face and the emotion that flashed across it. Such an intense performance. I agree with you about this being a gift to teens. I wish I had seen something like this when I was a teenager. Maybe I wouldn't have hated myself so much. I love this show. I stand behind it and always hope for the best.

Told you it was beautiful.

"It's called happy ENDINGS, not middles." ---Brad Falchuk

Anonymous said...

Like sonja, I was a little disappointed that Brittany made Santana go through all that for only to end up rejecting her (albeit, kindly) in the end…it just seemed cruel. I hope that when they pick this storyline up (*knockonwood*), Santana will be back to her bitchy ways, slashing people, including Brittany, with her vicious, vicious words. Santana doesn't strike me as the type who would respond well to forced public emotionalism or rejection.

That said, I thought the storyline was well done and Naya Rivera delivered a stellar performance. Who would've thought, when we first met the McKinley High School Glee Club, that it'd be the recurring mean girl cheerleader who'd show the most character development.

This is how you write a character, Ryan Murphy. A slow, but definitive, progression. Please learn from this.

Michelle said...

I think Brittany may also have chosen to stay with Artie, for now, as a defense mechanism of sorts. It's much easier for her to keep that going than deal with the reality of her feelings for Santana, since up to now, it's been a private thing just for them. I was SO impressed with the writing and the acting of the scenes with Brittana - it's great to finally have some clarity on their relationship, even if it didn't end up with them together.

The scene with Kurt and his Dad was SO lovingly written and well played too. I wasn't sure what to expect when the conversation was sort of forced upon them, but kudos to the writers for coming up with something so beautiful and true and important - just think of all the kids out there that need to hear exactly that! Brilliant.

I really hope that this is also marking a new era of continuity and plot on this show. I love it regardless, but it is so much nicer when there are actual plots and character arcs.

And regarding the ps, I have a small problem with that new euphemism as nothing about Stevie Nicks or that song is gay in any way.

And one last comment - Gwyneth and her character are AWESOME! I hope she does many more eps. She's campy and biting and hilarious without being nasty, which is great.

LizC said...

I'm 54 years old and this episode sure brought back memories for me. I can still remember the awkward telephone conversation (didn't have the nerve to face her) pouring my heart out to my first love when I was 17. She was really nice about telling me that she felt if she fell in love it would be with a guy. It still hurt, though. Naya was amazing in this episode.
I have to agree with Lisa regarding Brittany. They've gone way beyond naive with her.

TaylorBoi said...

While I won't argue that Naya's acting was spectacular I think what really made it so powerful was that flashback moment of that-was-me. The searing pain felt when remembering the first time baring your soul to someone and saying "This is who I am. Please love me back."

It rang especially true for me because I discovered my own sexuality by getting utterly emotionally entangled with another girl who was discovering herself at the same time. When her parents found our emails and god-awful poetry the first thing they said to her was "You are NOT gay." and she acquiesced and went on dating boys while I waited patiently for her. She never came back around to me like I expected she would. It took me a long time to realize this and let go.

She had essentially done the Brittany "I'm so yours but I'm with a guy" thing and the way that hurts is so different from any other rejection I've experienced that seeing it acted out so beautifully made it hurt all over again. I don't know that it was a bad thing though.

TaylorBoi said...

PS. The title of today's blog is perfect and a wonderful twist on the idea that "It Gets Better".

jenn levo said...

loved the episode and you summed up all the awesome in it Dorothy. Kudos.

The only thing I could have gone without in the episode was during the "Warblers" sexy song fest... they released the foam from the foam machine and the imagery of it shooting out was just a little... um, lets say... suggestive? I started laughing, just shaking my head and saying "really?.. .wow"

Ange said...

Co-sign! Co-sign!

Anonymous said...

co-sign co-sign co-sign!
I agree with every single word. I'm glad to see not everyone is on the Brittany hate train. Real emotions is better than cheap sweet lady kisses. Brittana is for real now and that is what matters.

Amanda said...

Bahaha Ani joke.


Itinerant Poet said...

This episode made me cry, it utterly broke my heart because it was so honest, it burnt a whole in my heart where part of me had never even realised I was hiding something, I'd needed this, this talk, this realisation, this Holly to bring it out of me... I had to wait until I'd been through so much pain, so much confusion, because
I didn't know... I applause your review, and your
Comments and can't wait for us all to to go through this journey together, it's the start!

Anonymous said...

This whole episode I alternated between flailing over Brittana and drooling over how amazingly hot Heather Morris is. Bravo to the acting in Sexy as well.

Anonymous said...

I just want to give a kudos to the curt/father/sex talk storyline too. That one touched me deeply. As my partner commented, it was even better because Kurt's dad is a real he-man. That talk was pure unadulterated love. And I Disagree with your slight diss of the show's continuity. Glee is revolutionary. Can we please give it some room to breathe and grow before we start Lwording it.

Anonymous said...

I watch glee every tuesday with my mom and this week I was not expecting the Brittana storyline to be so major, if I had I would've DVRed it. Instead I had to watch my favorite storyline with my uncomfortable mother as she talked during Santana's confession to Brittany. This was probably my favorite Glee episode ever if only for the fact it brought up a topic that is so important to me and that my mother continues to ignore. As silly as it sounds, Brittana gives me hope.

Luísa A. said...

I've said this many times already, but it had been a long time since I had ever cried so much for a scene after watching it repeatedly. It was still on my mind and clenching my chest all day today. The acting was superb. Their chemistry is still unbelievable. And the way the episode flowed... I mean, the love and sadness was so patent. It's hear-breaking in the end. So freaking powerful. I agree with everything you said, and I couldn't be more thankful to the glee writers for taking a chance on Brittana and the fans.

garanger said...

Totally agree with all you said here, DS. One of the best pieces you've written. Thank you.

NZNeep said...

So what do I dream about after watching all the yumminess before bed? I wake up from a sex dream involving a manager from my old work and Coach Bieste.

For serious.

Rachelle Headey said...

There is really no chance... cause you reflect in the most conscious way the meaning of the show.
In this episode I guess it's really all about the importance of showing 'those' feelings despite the outcome (being young and the understanding of liking someone and all those things mentioned in your post).
I'm not from United States but I understand the meaning of this show. It really must be something outrageous what they do. And significant.

And there's always space for laughter! ;D

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this DS. What an amazing episode.

Anonymous said...

I loved this episode. Seeing Santana come to a point where she was brave enough to make that confession, not just about loving Brittany, but how afraid that made her, was amazing. I don't think there has ever been a show that portrayed such a moment so honestly. Brittany's reaction didn't surprise me too much, because, aside from all of the TV writer reasons they might have done it, I'm also thinking she would have been completely floored by what Santana admitted to her. A girl who refused to talk about feelings for a year is suddenly confessing love and fear in the high school hallway? I'm surprised Brittany didn't pass out. Her reaction was still sad, but I see hope.
Kurt's dad was awesome. Again.

chantgirl said...

Oh Dorothy Snarker, I have lurked for years here, religiously reading your wonderfully, amazing blog. I find that you mirror my thoughts and feelings on most of your topics almost to a tee (kind of frightening, really ;), although you express them so much better than I ever could.

After this episode of Glee and your posting, I had to actually take the time to post, because your insight and eloquence and compassion deserve to be lauded. I always appreciate your heart that shines through on your thoughtful posts (and I thoroughly appreciate your "naughtiness" as well. *grin*).

This episode of Glee completely took me by surprise. To be honest, I was expecting to at least be somewhat disappointed, if not greatly so regarding the "Brittana is on" front. I am so happy to say that I * Was * Floored! Not only was Brittana highlighted, but it was so complex, and beautiful and real. God bless Naya Rivera, Heather Morris and the writers for the gift they have given not only to gay teens, but to everyone who watches Glee, who now may open their minds just a little bit more and widen the scope of their hearts. Because of how Brittana was handled and the complexity of it, I have faith that this in not the end of their story, but truly a beginning. A story that will have real substance now.

And the talk between Kurt and his Dad was AMAZING! It should be mandatory watching for all kids AND adults who never had the luck to have such a discussion with their parents.

I want to thank you for being *you*, Dorothy, and for creating such a beautiful, little rainbow-colored corner of the web.

Anonymous said...

Awesome review and show.

My sister-in-law is a guidance counselor at a high school in a non-progressive state. She doesn't watch Glee (what's up with that?) so I contacted her to warn her to expect an influx of students today. My hope was that some gay kids would seek her out. Sadly, no one did.

The talk between Kurt and his dad was textbook about how that conversation should go. I hope some parents were watching and this helps the dialogue. I would love to see a new generation of kids who aren't ashamed of who they are and who they love.

Michele said...

Loved the episode. Loved the development. Loved that it didn't end in a neat little perfect dated bow cause TV shows with soap elements go nowhere with couples when it's easy. I want to see this play out for real for both of these characters. Thanks for a smart recap of the episode that wasn't overwhelmed with lustful observations but simply witty, tell it like it is ones.

I enjoy your writing and very much enjoyed this blog

Norma Desmond said...

Glee gets so many things wrongs... but, so far, it has handled its gay storylines with more understanding and care than I've ever seen a show do (or even considering doing) before. Santana was so brave and so amazing and so heartbreaking and so... so many other things. I just wanted to hug and tell her it'd be ok.

Anyway, I'm rambling, but that's probably because I literally JUST finished watching it. So well done.

Anonymous said...

I hereby declare Glee the only show on television where the gay characters are more dynamic that the straight ones. Its like Glee exists in a bizarro broadcast universe where gay kids get to be real people while the straight ones all have to fit into neat stereotypical boxes and stay trapped in the same infinite loop plot lines. I'm just glad I don't have to watch the "everyone wants to do Finn for reasons I don't understand and I don't even think it's because I don't dig dudes" show anymore.

Jamie said...

I still can't get over this episode. Brittana's story line blew me away, it was just so REAL. Honestly, I believe the writers had originally written something else entirely (if you don't believe me just look at the previews for "Sexy"). Does anyone remember that clip where Santana opens her locker and (dirt?)flies out at her? That didn't air at all. This makes me think that the writters completely changed their story line due to Brittana (Santittany)fans picking up their pitchforks.

Also, does anyone remember reading a fic on with the same exact plot??? I think Glee writters have been dipping into those fics, and I love it!

PS: Naya freaking killed that performance! I knew she was good, but now I think she deserves every single award in the planet for her great acting skills! GO NAYA!!! **fist pumps**

Emily said...

I'll say a shortened version of what I said on AfterEllen: This storyline is so personal for me, and I love it. You're correct, everything about this episode was right. The emotion was so raw and believable and beautiful between Brittana. I literally cannot get over how good this episode was; it's probably (ok, definitely) the first time I've cried during Glee. Best episode yet.

Anonymous said...

This comment feels kinda late (considering how rabid us Brittana fans can be), but I absolutely love the fact that everyone is not just invested in the physical aspect of their relationship (although, who doesn't like sweet lady kisses) but also the emotional side.

I also agree that Brittany's response to Santana seems very in character and natural, but for a different reason. It seems to me all about guilt. Ever since Artie boarded the douchebag express and basically accused Brittany of misleading him and stealing his virginity (a rant that I will refrain on going off on, and which still pissed me off to this day, argh) she's been walking around eggshells with him. Most of their conversations are actually her apologizing for some wrong she thinks she's done him (another ranty argh point), and I'm sure she doesn't want to hurt his feelings again. Honestly, I don't think her feelings for Artie are romantic at all.

Well, we can only hope the writers actually consider continuity for the rest of the season, it's such a shame that some of the best episodes in terms of character growth literally disappear by the next episode. Although I'd be happy with just consistent characterization, for love of anything sacred, stop making Brittany a baby! She's stupid, sure, not an infant. Speaking of which - she knew Quinn was pregnant, saw the progress of that pregnancy, and accompanied her to the hospital when she went into labor. Where the hell does this believing in stork-baby nonsense come from? You know what, I'd actually just be happy if they stopped doing this to poor Britt and went back to the quirky one-liners.

Sorry, long comment is long. (Also, I typed this comment before but it either didn't go through, got delayed, or I did it wrong, so I typed it again because I'm terribly anal like that.)