Idiot Box: Bully

photo courtesy

(update: photo added 11.10.10)


I love GLEE, of course, but I don’t often write about it here on my blog. Usually, I save it for the character-limited posting on Facebook, but tonight’s episode was worth pondering. This week’s episode finally addressed bullying, so prevalent in the modern consciousness due to the recent tragic suicides due to gay bullying.

As one would surmise, GLEE, which probably has the gayest audience of any show not on Bravo, would be the perfect forum to address such a potent and timely (and important) topic.

But, I don’t know.

As a bona fide and proud GLEEK, I’m not attempting to take a higher road here, or bash one of my weekly treasures. Even its worst episodes (e.g. the Madonna debacle) are sprinkled with moments of pure exhilaration and joy. But no one turns to GLEE – as magical as it can be at times – for realism.

But lack of reality isn’t even the issue here (sorry I went off on that tangent). No, my main objection, if you will, is the dispassion in its otherwise passionate response to bullying: bullying was – and still is – a major punch line of the show. Its usage as comic relief was always a misstep and miscalculation (one of a few, but not many) and frequently lent a cruel undertone that negated its effectiveness of inclusivity.

The writers can’t expect us to accept two tiers of bullying – on one hand, it’s okay for the dumpster dumping or the slushy in the face or Puck insinuating that he had thrown Artie down a flight of stairs.  Hahaha, hilarious. On the other, it’s treated as cruel, vicious and devastating when the only gay kid repeatedly gets pushed into the locker by the (closet case) football thug (and cruel, vicious and devastating it is).

There should not be – and can’t be – any lines of acceptance. It would be foolish to prejudge the future, I know, but the writers will have to prove their sincerity by not treating the subject as comic fodder moving forward.  They can no longer afford to.

One thing is indisputable, though. No one – sane, anyway – could argue Chris Colfer. As a novice, Colfer easily could morph into campy overload, but he rarely does. Often, his character is an unlikeable, snarky, persnickety curmudgeon – who can easily be a bully in his own right, but with words, not fists. Yet, Colfer is such a tremendous talent that even at his most unlikeable, you can’t help but love him. And, in this season especially, this ‘novice’, this ‘newbie’, continues to out-act and outshine everyone else on the show. When Colfer was nominated for an Emmy this year, I wrote:

“…rarely has the angst, fear, confusion, terror and finally, unmitigated joy of a gay teen coming out to himself, his friends, and a parent been so splendidly and perfectly portrayed…”

His extraordinary performances this year will surely garner him another Emmy nod – if not a win.

A few more random notes on the episode:

  • Even though you saw the ‘shocker’ kiss coming, it didn’t lessen the impact..
  • Also, I was reading how Dave “stole Kurt’s kiss!!!” How ridiculous – and insulting. A real kiss has to be mutual – Kurt didn’t reciprocate, he recoiled.
  • Sadly, tonight’s musical numbers were arguably the show’s worst yet (the sweetness of “Teenage Dream” notwithstanding).
  • Most irking, though, is the almost weekly incessant exploitation of having Janice the Muppet’s human doppelganger, Sam, shirtless AGAIN, this time with a near slow-mo gaze at his washboard torso. It’s not necessary, GLEE, to use this boy’s body to satisfy the gaggle of gay men surely salivating at their screen.

  • Many might complain about the kiss between Will and Bieste but I thought it was a beautiful gesture, handled elegantly and gallantly. There was no confusing emotions there – Bieste understood the innate response of Will’s action. “Now you’ve had your first kiss” was reminiscent of when Joey kissed Phoebe in FRIENDS because she’s never had the “perfect kiss” before she hit 30.
  • It’s starting on the blogosphere already – not a few hours after the show ended – that over-saturation of name morphing that might have started with the dreaded “Bennifer” all those years ago. Yep, now we’re getting “Blurt” – the combination of “Blaine” and “Kurt”. And it’s not the 13 year old girls starting this moniker – it’s grown men. And it’s overtly annoying. But, what’s not annoying (so far) is adorable GLEE newcomer Darren Criss, who played Blaine, Kurt’s new confidant/possible love interest. His “Teenage Dream” was inspired and sweet and was the musical highlight of the night.

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