Usually, when I write Glee reviews, I write them after I am done with the episode, when I am simmering with rage and infuriation, and I let ‘er rip. Today, I decided to take a slightly different approach; instead of waiting to the end, I’m taking a break when Hulu bombards me with commercials to react in real time. We’ll see how it works out…
Part I: The Opener
Ah, look, casual ableism, homophobia, and ageism. Gosh, Glee, I missed you so much when you were randomly not airing and then I let that one episode fall through the black hole because AT&T turned off my phone ‘by accident’ and I was moving. Now I remember why I was dreading the inevitable return of my Glee viewing. And oh hey, the usual tropes about teen boys being unable to control their rampaging hormones unless they imagine really ‘gross’ things while making out! Oh goody, gender essentialism! Fuck, why do people watch this show.
But, oh, this is the bullying episode! Hence, we need to see a few scenes of Kurt being threatened to make sure we all understand the magnitude of the problem here. And here…is this a glimmer of hope I see, Glee? Are we having a scene in an office where Kurt gets the tone argument (‘You’re too sad. And angry! Why do you let it get to you?’) and he lays down the law? I think we are! I think Kurt is telling Schue what’s what here, and I am quivering with excitement. You go, Glee, break out of the box, and remind your viewers that, hey, being bullied? Tends to make you sad. And angry.
Part II: Oh
I would find it more believable that we’re supposed to dislike Puck for being a douchebag who provides total bro lessons in ‘how to manage women’ if I didn’t have the sneaking suspicion that the writers 100% believe words of wisdom like those dispensed by Puck on a regular basis.
Part III: Kurt Enters the Halls of Privilege and Learns Lessons From Wise Boys in Blazers
‘Refuse to be the victim.’
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, GLEE? This is how you have decided to confront bullying. To tell people being abused that running away (saving yourself) is BAD and WRONG and makes you a pathetic failure, and instead you should ‘stand up’ to your bully. Because nothing works better, when it comes to bullying, than making yourself a bigger target. What a GREAT message to send QUILTBAG youth who are experiencing bullying and abuse at school. So I guess the takeaway about the scene with Schue is that actually Kurt is too angry and sad, not that people who think like Schue does are wrong and not helping.
And I note that Shue can stand up to his students when it comes to engaging in egregious behaviour directed at the athletic coach, but he’s apparently incapable of taking action when it comes to the persistent homophobia within the glee club. I love his added side of cluelessness; ‘don’t take it personally,’ he says, to a woman who is being mocked by people who imagine her in lingerie when they try to muster the most disgusting thing they can think of. How else should she take this, exactly?
Part IV: *sighs heavily*
Oh you go, Glee, with the endless hipster ableism. I bet the majority of your demographic eats that shit up.
So, Kurt’s monologue here started out pretty solid, confronting common stereotypes about gay men. Buuuuut…we really went with the ‘internalised homophobia is the reason for bullying’ argument? Really.
Part V: Shue, You Are Such A Fucking Hypocrite
Thanks for the extensive lecture on how bad it is to hurt people who are ‘important additions to the school,’ Schue. Don’t choke on the hypocrisy there while your gay student is suffering as a result of relentless bullying. The same gay student who has to call on a peer from another school for assistance because his level of support at his own school is so abysmal. Granted, Blaine isn’t terribly helpful what with his victim blaming BS, but he’s doing more than Kurt’s classmates and the teachers/administration at his own school.
And Schue, getting angry at people who are being bullied is so very productive. Please, keep it up. Make sure to tell the victim that this is all her own fault for being so weak, that will definitely make her feel better, and then keep up with the unstoppable cheery chipperness, I hear that’s highly effective. Round off with a nice, gagworthy ‘affirmative’ statement to end your pep talk!
Part VI: Hooray, It’s Over
So…apparently after using a woman as the butt of your in-joke, you can make it all better with a musical mashup. And if you’re openly gay and in high school, I guess life just sucks for you. Too bad!
Conclusion: It turns out I hate the individual parts of Glee as much as I hate their sum. And here, have some further reading on how completely awful the handling of bullying was in this episode.