Glee: “Never Been Kissed” and Maybe Never Should Be.

I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve written about Glee. Sometime soon I’m going to gather my thoughts, have a Glee marathon, and really write something meaningful. But I’ll just focus on this last episode. I guess I should preface this by saying that I watch Glee live on television. That means something. In the modern age of internet and Hulu, that’s rare. Really rare at college. Ever since the single best pilot episode for any show ever, Glee only lets me down. Again, I watch every episode as soon as I can. I think the world of all of the actors. They are so talented. My problems are with Ryan Murphy. So Gleeks beware, this post will not be pretty: I will not praise the hilarity of Sue Sylvester, I will not laud the poppy musical numbers, and I will most certainly not give Ryan Murphy any credit for the dark comedy that has swept the nation.

“Never Been Kissed” had three main story lines. I will now list them in order of most egregious first to least, but still heinously egregious last.

Kurt’s Story

The most awful was Kurt’s. Upset from being the only out and proud person at his McKinley High, he goes to the private all boys school to “spy” on the all male a cappella group. There he meets a hunky boy, Blaine, as played by Darren Criss. After a romantic song and a peek into life without bullies, Blaine gives Kurt courage. Literally. Through a text. All it says is “Courage — Blaine.” Anyway I guess this is where I’m going to put up my SPOILER ALERT! And ask you to read on, Gleeks… if you dare.

Kurt decides that it’s time to stand up to the bully, Dave. (I’ll pause to say one nice thing about Glee. One of the main tenets of the feel-good hysteria is that everyone has a name, no matter how small their role. It’s a subtle way of making the point.) So Dave pushes Kurt into a hall locker. Typical bully move. Kurt, enraged, storms after Dave into the locker room. Dave accuses Kurt of trying to get a look at his junk, Kurt yells back how not all gays want to and his homosexuality doesn’t warrant bullying, Dave threatens to punch Kurt, Kurt challenges him to, then Dave. Kisses. Kurt.

REALLY GLEE? Really? I need Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler to do that justice, but REALLY??? So I’m fine with the fact that Glee has a social conscience. I don’t think it pulls off having one well, but I find it noble that it has it at all. One of the main issues that our favorite musical teens face is homosexuality. Kurt has been struggling with it since the beginning. He had a very touching and emotional coming out with his father, but the story line is getting a little tired. I’m also aware that in response to all of the awful suicides that recently happened, Glee needs to show a stand for bullying against gays. That’s all great. Really. Glee is a great outlet for positive social messages to teens because teens watch it. But this was just absurd. Now the generality that Glee made is that if you bully gays, it is because you are secretly harboring homosexual feelings? That’s ludicrous. It starts with a serious issue that eneds delicate treatment, and then takes it so far that it becomes a) silly and sometimes b) offensive. There was then a meaningless confrontation between Blaine, Kurt, and Dave where Dave ended up threatening Blaine and storming away. While the most poignant interpretation of Glee that I’ve heard is that it is a collection of lost souls, drifting to find a place. But not everyone in high school has inner turmoil. I know it makes good TV, but news flash Ryan Murphy, not all bullies are secretly gay, not all bullies are tortured, and not all bullies have a good reason as to why they are mean. That’s just life.

Songs ruined while trying to help Kurt’s plotline: Teenage Dream by Katy Perry as sung by the very talented all-male a cappella group of the private school. I’ll let it slide as being acceptable – it was fun! – but the arrangement was less than inspired (I can say that – I ran an a cappella group!) and the song didn’t carry much meaning in the episode besides imposed meaning of Blaine liking Kurt.

Coach Bieste’s Story

Yes Puck, she does look pretty when she smiles.

Moving on to the other story lines. In a recall to why Finn can’t last while hooking up with a girl, he and Sam devise a strategy to “cool off” (If Glee can’t create any other euphemisms for losing sexual tension then I don’t have to either.). They imagine their butch female coach, Coach Bieste, in sexual positions. It spreads throughout the club and then explodes in Bieste’s face. In a very touching and heart warming conversation with Mr. Shu, Bieste reveals that it hurts her that everyone thinks she’s ugly and she’s never been kissed. This, too, is a very valid social message about not making fun of ugly people. Sure, it’s a little less political or hot-button, but it’s valid none the less. So this story line was otherwise perfect: it involved many members of the group so it spread the love, it intertwined other story lines, a Glee rarity, and it even got its message across without being too over the top. Until Will kissed Bieste.

Yup. And Bieste liked it. The problem here is that it’s not the kind of kiss Coach Bieste needed. She wants a man she’s in love with to kiss her. Kurt expressed this after he was kissed and it was poignant. But after Coach Bieste’s long speech about how she can’t be in a relationship because of intimacy, just kissing her ain’t gonna cut the mustard. Obviously this is less of an issue, but still. It reiterates how Glee takes it over the top when trying to send a positive message. I will give gentle props for having the audience laugh at the ugly Coach Biest doing things like smoking in a tutu and then turning it on the cruel television watcher. That was mildly brave, if actually just unintentional… which I’m sure it was. And this story was further saved by the wonderful acting job of Dot-Marie Jones – a truly great addition to the show and a wonderful actress (I’m sensing Best Guest Actress Emmy nomination?).

Songs ruined while trying to help Coach Bieste’s plotline: The awful mashup of Stop! In the Name of Love and Free Your Mind was wasted and didn’t really act as an apology to Coach Biest like it was supposed to. I guess it was good, but the girls’ mashup was better. I guess the on the nose placement of freeing your mind and the word love seem like a better idea on paper than in episode form.

Puck’s Story

The final plot line was really pretty great. Fresh-out-of-Juvy Puck decides that for his community service, he’ll teach Artie, the kid in the wheelchair, his secrets of getting girls. This was a very safe, very Glee, very high school television show story line. Maybe I liked it because it stayed in the comfort zone when others didn’t. Fine. But it was the only one that was 100% successful. Well, besides when Puck went crazy in the Principal’s Office, but I’ll just chalk it up to high school TV show melodrama. This story had some really great moments, not to mention my two favorite lines of the episode. First, in a pep talk to Artie before talking to girls, Puck says, “Remember, don’t trust your instincts.” And later, on a double date with Santana and Brittany, Puck is retelling a story from Juvenile Prison.

Puck: “I said, ‘Leggo my Eggo.’ and he let go of my Eggo.”

Santana: “You should totally be President of the United States.”

Songs ruined while trying to help Puck’s storyline: One Love/People Get Ready. It wasn’t that bad. Just kind of pointless. And Artie and Puck sounded good together, beside the fact that you could actually hear the autotune on Artie’s voice.

So all in all, 2 kisses ruined Glee this week for me, one was saved by Dot-Marie Jones awesome acting job, the other was too far gone to be salvaged by the very talente, and Emmy nominated, Chris Colfer. The two shining moments of the episode were mostly unrelated to any real story line. In the backdrop boys vs. girls schtick, the girls pulled off a phenomenal mash up of Start Me Up and Living on a Prayer. Lea Michele and Amber Riley rocked the house. So talented. And I lied earlier. The other great moment was the brief Sue Sylvester moment where she set off confetti for the quitting of Coach Bieste. Sue also summed up Glee’s problem really well when trying to tell him why Bieste quit. She said that New Directions sings about “how awesome it is to be alive, or ugly, or whatever they sing about.” Hilarious and true. Well done Jane Lynch.

The single best thing about Glee? It’s a lead in for Raising Hope, the best new show on television show. It literally made my day when the day care lady sang a song to Hope while her teenaged father was “trombone late.”

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