As Mel said, I’ve been annoying anyone with ears (and eyes, just ask my LiveJournal friends) about my excitement over last night’s episode of “Glee.” And because it was so much more than I ever expected, I couldn’t wait to until my weekly review to share my thoughts. I do apologize if any of the following sounds disjointed, I’m still getting over a 24-hour fever/bug and my brain is still on standby.
Before last night’s episode of “Glee” (entitled “Never Been Kissed”) aired, all anyone could talk about was newcomer Darren Criss and whether or not his openly gay character Blaine would be Kurt’s first boyfriend, or at the very least his first kiss. And today the name on everyone’s lips is Max Adler, whose Glee alter ego Dave Karofsky aggressively took the title of Kurt’s first boy kiss for himself.
Up to now, Karofsky had only been known as the two-dimensional jock bully who slushied various members of the Glee club, and recently set his bullying tactics on the school’s only openly gay student, Kurt (he actually came this close to beating Kurt up in “Theatricality” last season). After literally being pushed around by Karofsky one too many times, and bolstered by the mantra of “courage” sent by Blaine via text, Kurt stands up to his tormentor, calling him a “scared little boy intimidated by how extraordinarily ordinary [he is].” Karofksy’s response? He kisses Kurt, outing himself to both Kurt and himself, before punching the lockers and running away. He of course, denies it happens and his abuse on Kurt continues.
What was beautiful about this moment was not only the shock value (it was the kiss heard ‘round the world and if the world was anything like my living room, it was repeated cries of “Oh my God!”) but the message it sent to teens and adults like Karofsky, hiding behind what it expected of them because they are afraid or curious about their feelings for the same sex. The creators of this show know exactly how many people it reach and know they can use it to help those who are watching it.
This episode is very timely, and I’m sure that is no accident, given the nation’s attention on the recent increase in suicides in gay teens due to bullying. And, according spoilers, this won’t be the end of the bullying storyline for Kurt and the revelation of Karofsky’s closeted desires adds another sad yet interesting level to said storyline.
The main reason this moment, and the entire episode, worked was because of the amazing actors: Chris Colfer and Max Adler. The pain that flashes in Karofsky’s face when he shoves Kurt the day after the kiss and the defeated confession by Kurt to Blaine that “until yesterday [he] had never been kissed by a boy,” were heartbreaking and perfect. While I don’t look forward to the abuse Kurt is going to suffer at Karofsky’s hands, I am looking forward from the amazing performances by the two actors.
Kurt’s storyline wasn’t the only one causing tears last night. Puck’s return from juvie is played off as nothing by the teen rebel but we see exactly how much pain he is in when in the principal’s office, confronted by the principal, Mr. Shue and his parole officer, he reacts violently against going back to the teen penitentiary with the heart aching cry “No one cares about me,” before running away. Mark Salling has seemingly come out of nowhere, taking Puck from the sex-addicted carefree kid to the young man dealing with the loss of his child and the taste of what is to come if he continues down his destructive path.
Also tugging at heartstrings last night was Dot Jones as football coach Shannon Beiste. She shows her vulnerable side to her only faculty friend, Mr. Shuester, when she reveals she’s never been kissed. This after the humiliation of discovering the Glee jocks (and Tina) are using images of the coach to “cool off” when making out with their significant others. It was a well-acted scene by Jones and Matthew Morrison, though I felt that like Kurt, Beiste’s first kiss was stolen by someone who had no romantic feelings for her.
The only problem with a groundbreaking episode like this is that episodes like next week’s, in which guest star Gwyneth Paltrow reportedly has three numbers, look superfluous in comparison. However, this is “Glee” and while like its star Colfer its strong suit is starting to shine in its dramatic moments rather than its comedic, we can’t forget it is still a musical comedy. Fluff episodes are to be expected, however I think after last night no one will ever deny that “Glee” has cemented its place in television history.
- ‘Glee’ Gives Kurt His First Kiss (pinkisthenewblog.com)
- “Glee” Takes On Gay Bullying And Kurt Finds The Preppie Of His Dreams (thefrisky.com)
- Glee-Dux: The Smooches Shocked! The Girls Rocked! And Kurt’s Bully Is So Not Going Away (eonline.com)
- Glee’s Bully Pulpit: Take Us Seriously! (tunedin.blogs.time.com)