TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Naked” Episode.

glee men of mckinley calendar ryder

glee men of mckinley calendar jake

glee men of mckinley calendar artie

Male body image was the word(s) in Tuesday night’s (excuse the one-day-lateness of this post, as I was all ready to settle down in front of the TV last night to watch “Naked” on Channel Ten, only to discover that Glee has now been demoted to Eleven on Tuesday nights) episode, in which Tina (she’s just a wealth of ideas when it comes to Blaine) suggests New Directions raise money for regionals by producing a “Men of McKinley” calendar.

Being the only non-able bodied man in the group, Artie is understandably perturbed, and defensively asks why the women of McKinley High aren’t being objectified in the calendar, also. Kitty rejoins:

“Girls are the ones that buy stuff. It’s a consumer-driven economy. Those Twilight books are poop on paper and we’ve turned them into a billion dollar industry.”

Yes, ’cause women aren’t capable of deciphering what’s drivel and what’s not. They’re also only capable of being objectified or the objectifiers, never the subjects.

Kitty makes a fair point, though, that hot, shirtless men are more likely to make more money for the club’s regionals fund that sexy schoolgirls. And, let’s face it, we get enough of that already.

None of the Glee men stray from the socially acceptable norm of what’s attractive, so that just leaves wheelchair-bound Artie to take on the body image issues that aren’t exclusively the realm of women, he tells Finn.

Wait a minute: wasn’t there an episode this time two years ago in which Finn was the one with the body hang-ups and Artie espoused words of wisdom for navigating the female gaze as a high school boy? While Finn might have grown up since then and Artie’s still in a wheelchair, it’s just another example of the lack of continuity and explanation in Glee.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have teenage Adonis, Sam, turning into an egomaniac when he receives an überlow SAT score and thinks he has to rely on his looks alone to get by in life.

Meanwhile in New York City, Rachel accepts a role in a student film in which she’ll have to be topless. She decides to do the nude scene, much to the chagrin of Kurt, who says Rachel’ll never be taken seriously as an actress. Supportive boyfriend, Brody, retorts that all the serious actresses have done nude scenes. Nudity=Oscar, as I’m sure Seth MacFarlane would concur

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Sadie Hawkins” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

Elsewhere: Two of the Boob Showings Referenced in Seth MacFarlane’s “We Saw Your Boobs” Song Occurred During Rape Scenes.

Images via Ch131.

TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Sadie Hawkins” Episode.

glee sadie hawkins dance

And that is: empowerment! Yay! ’Cause nothing is more empowering than a heteronormative school dance where the women ask the men to be their dates, right?

glee sadie hawkins too young to be bitter club

That’s according to Tina Cohen-Chang, at least, who comes up with the idea for a myriad of reasons: a prelude to the upcoming prom, an excuse to get close to gay crush Blaine, and something for her fellow “Too Young to Be Bitter” club members to get behind in their quest to become, um…, less bitter.

Coach Beiste is all for the dance, because Sadie Hawkins is a metaphor for empowerment, duh, as we’ve already established in the opening paragraph. But it’s not just about socio-sexual empowerment, Beiste says it’s also about gaining the strength to follow your dreams, as she did after her first Sadie Hawkins dance when she decided to follow her passion for football.

glee sadie hawkins lauren zizes

Beiste’s overweight and unconventionally unfeminine student counterpart, Lauren Zizes (who, by the way, hasn’t been seen since the end of season two. Way to go with the continuity, Glee writers), is part of the “Too Young to Be Bitter” club, too, and by the end of the episode has the courage to both ask Joe to dance at Sadie Hawkins and apply for a wrestling scholarship at Harvard. This, along with the other members’ success at the dance, apparently calls for the disbanding of the club because everyone’s empowered now.

But the undercurrent flowing through this episode was Blaine and Sam’s sleuthing regarding the Warblers: Sam seems to think the team is using human growth hormones because of their energetic stage presence, a video of Hunter Carrington allegedly ‘roid raging in a coffee shop, the Warblers’ suddenly larger physical appearance, and the testimony of former Warbler, sunshiney Trent.

Apart from being a suspiciously similar plotline to Pitch Perfect, it just goes to show that “Sadie Hawkins” was about completely superficial lipstick feminism and it was the boys who really saved the day.

Images via Ch131.

TV: Glee—“Props” for the Body-Switching Dream Sequence.

In a rare moment of actual self-awareness (none of this Sue-hiring-racially-diverse-midgets-for-New-Directions-to-perform-with-at-Nationals-in-a-show-of-inclusivity—or something—stuff), Glee dared to put Tina in a dream sequence in which she was Rachel and everyone else had swapped bodies, too.

In the “here’s what you missed on Glee” intro, the narrator (who sounds a lot like Finn, but have we ever really been told who it is?) draws attention to Tina’s status as a “prop” at best, so of course the episode was going to be all about her, like the first episode back after Quinn’s accident and the wedding-that-wasn’t was all about Quinn, and then the character is never to be seen or heard from again. I’m not sure what the show has planned for next season, when Rachel, Finn, Kurt et al. head off to college, but perhaps they were trying to introduce Tina as the main player next year.

Anyway, Tina cracks it after having to sit through one too many of Rachel’s solo tantrums. Afterwards, when she’s shopping for fabric for Rachel’s Nationals costume, Tina slips and falls into a fountain at the mall, hitting her head.

For ten glorious minutes, Glee is transformed into an alternate reality, where Finn is Kurt and Puck is Blaine (here’s the homoerotic moment we’ve all been waiting for!) and so on and so forth. With some spot on performances by Naya Rivera as Santana as Artie and Vanessa Lengies as Sugar as Quinn, I’m actually disappointed that Glee didn’t carry this scene on for the rest of the episode! But then Glee’s never been one for pushing the boundaries…

In other, storyline continuity-related Glee news, Shannon Beiste’s domestic violence arc was tied up when she got the courage from, of all people, Puck, to leave Cooter for good.

What did you think of the body-switching experiment? Yay or nay?

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Choke” Episode.

Images via Putlocker.

TV: The (Belated) Underlying Message in Glee’s “Choke” Episode.

As someone who has witnessed her mother being choked by her father, using that action as a metaphor for intimate partner violence on Glee is sick.

Not only that, but in desperately trying and dismally failing to, for some reason, raise awareness of domestic violence (actually, I’ve decided I hate that phrase, so I’m taking to using the more all-encompassing “intimate partner violence”), Glee has gone back to its old ways by being especially misogynistic and racist.

The intimate partner violence storyline opens with Santana observing Coach Beiste’s black eye and remarking that “it looks like Mr. Beiste went all Chris Brown on Mrs. Beiste… [Did] Cooter put the smackdown on [her] ’cause [she] wouldn’t let him be on top?” Troublingly, women of colour Mercedes and Tina, and LGBTQ woman Brittany, all snicker. I wonder if the writers were aware (oh wait, this is Glee: of course they weren’t!) that African American women are 35% more likely to experience intimate partner violence than white women, 60% of Korean women have been beaten by their partners, and violence in same-sex relationships is gravely underreported and misunderstood.

Enter Cheerios co-coach and “black Sue”, Roz Washington, who overhears Santana’s bad taste musings. She tells the girls that “violence against women” and “men hitting women” is never okay, buying into the perception that women are the only victims in intimate partner violence. Granted, women are the overwhelming victims, but that’s not giving equal opportunity to non-heterosexual relationships (for shame, considering the abundance of LGBTQ characters on the show) and the fact that a woman can hit a man. Instead of insinuating that it’s intimate partner violence only that we should be concerned about, how about violence against women in general? Including rape.

Anyway, I’m sure the writers wanted Roz to mean well, but her racial and sexist slurs directed at Mercedes (“Lil Oprah”), Tina (“Asian Horror Story”), Sugar (“Rojo Caliente”) and Santana (“Salsa Caliente”) undermine this.

In a following scene, Sue coins the aforementioned nickname, “Black Sue”, for Roz, telling her that “ivory poachers could make a fortune selling your enormous white teeth on the black market”, and refers to Coach Beiste as John Goodman, perhaps insinuating that Beiste’s masculinity should have prevented her from being a victim. This way of thinking seems to be adopted by Santana, too, when she says she doesn’t think Coach Beiste actually got hit because she’s “a wall”. What if the roles were reversed and Beiste had hit Cooter, who is considerably smaller than Shannon?

The racial stereotyping continues when Roz admonishes the girls for their joke. As Autostraddle points out, Glee gave the “‘my aunt got beat up by her man’” monologue to the one black woman on the show,” claiming it took her five years to escape the relationship. It took my mum nigh on thirty to get out.

Shannon initially denies her husband hit her, but uses her experience to inspire the girls, who—up until this point— have never really had anything to do with the Coach, to sing a song about empowering women to leave abusive relationships. According to Sue,

“The American songbook is chock full of songs making light about men hitting women.”

Chris Brown, anyone?

Beiste is so moved by the girls’—who, again, she’s had nothing to do with up to now—apathetic show of indifference to intimate partner violence, that she confesses to them—jeopardising her reputation at the school (remember what happened the last time she got too close to McKinley students?)—that she was actually the victim of intimate partner violence, and that they effectively “saved her life”, because she forgot to do the dishes all weekend. Yes, perpetrators of intimate partner violence can be set off by the slightest thing, and we all know that beating the person you love isn’t the means of someone who’s mentally balanced, but dishes?! Glee, really?! If you’re going to make one of your characters, perhaps the most underutilised, exploited and maligned of them all, the victim of a serious issue like intimate partner violence that will never be addressed again, can you at least make it for a reason less trivial than dishes?!

Two realistic things to come out of the storyline, though: that Shannon stays with Cooter and gives him a second chance, and lies about it to Sue and the girls. And finally, that Beiste fears that if she leaves him, “no one else will ever love me”. Painfully sad, true to actual victims of intimate partner violence who are made to feel worthless and unlovable by their abuser, and ties in with a past storyline on the show!

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

My Thoughts on Chris Brown.

Elsewhere: [Women of Colour Network] Domestic Violence Facts & Stats Collection.

Glee Recap: Choke-a-Joke.

Image via Putlocker.

Event/TV: Glee—The Right & Wrong of It.

In lieu of a new episode of Glee last week, I attended a debate about the pros and cons of McKinley High and its glee club.

I was super excited, because I assumed the debate would entail a for Glee side, and an against. And it did. But while I thought the against side, consisting of Clem Bastow and Jess McGuire, would discuss the blatant sexism, racism, homo/transphobia, ableism, fatism and the many other phobias and -isms the show incorporates (feel free to add them in the comments), both panelists ultimately praised Glee for it’s inclusiveness and handling of the tough issues.

I’ve heard this rationalisation about Glee before. When my tuba-playing gay friend finally got into the show this season and fell hard for it, he thought I would sing its praises with him because he knew I watched it. (Evidently, he does not read this blog as he would know the main reason I like Glee is because I know I’ll always get a blog post out of it!) When I invited him to the debate, he had something else on but wondered what they would be debating, exactly. I referred to the list of problems I have with it (above and elaborated on below) and he replied, “But I thought Glee was about acceptance.” That’s what it wants you to think, and it blinds you to all the other issues with Katy Perry songs. As panelist for the “pro-Glee” side, Mel Campbell, said, “It’s best not to ask questions.”

While McGuire did touch on Glee’s pro-gay stance, and perhaps its best, and most underutilised, storyline of Brittany and Santana’s forbidden love, I was expecting SlutWalk Melbourne organiser and noted feminist Bastow to knock Glee out of the park for its anti-women portrayals. I was also sorely disappointed, as Bastow, a keen musical aficionado, chose to focus on the shows’ butchering of classic musical numbers.

So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to write about the issues I wished the panel had discussed last Thursday night.

Sexism.

I’ve written about feminism in Glee before, specifically as it’s embodied in the character of Rachel Berry. It annoys me to no end that Rachel is deemed “ugly” (though Lea Michele is anything but) because she’s annoying. And she’s annoying because she eschews traditional gender roles that are perhaps embodied by Quinn by being ambitious, voicing her opinions and unapologetically going after what she wants.

In a clip shown at the debate of the inaugural Glee mash-up in which Mr. Shuester separates the girls from the boys, Kurt attempts to join the girls’ side. Since when did being a gay man amount to the equivalent of a straight female?

Finally, I wouldn’t say sexism is the main problem in Mercedes’ perpetual (okay, she seems to have a boyfriend this season, but more on that later) bachelorettehood, rather some other issues I will address later in the piece.

Racism.

Now is as good a time as any to discuss Mercedes’ aforementioned singleness. Was she literally the only character in season two who didn’t have a significant other because she’s black? (Or because she’s fat?) Sure, she dated Sam for all of a few minutes in the season two final, but before that the only action she got was Kurt condescendingly suggesting she should date one of the guys on the football team because he was black and, like, they’d probably have heaps in common.

If that’s not enough proof of Glee’s insensitivity to race, all you need to do it look at any one episode for a myriad of references to Tina and Mike’s “Asianness”, Roy Flanagan’s “Irishness” (or leprechaunnes, as Brittany might refer to it) and Puck and Rachel’s “Jewishness” (though that also falls under religious prejudice as well).

Homophobia & Transphobia.

Sure, Glee’s pretty much a vehicle for Kurt and, increasingly, Blaine, to showcase their voices, fashion sense and flamboyance. McGuire chose to speak at length about how sensitively the show handled Kurt coming out to his dad and Kurt and Blaine’s first time, and I have to agree with her. And yes, seeing two men make gay love (okay, the implication of them making gay love) on primetime network television without a stink being kicked up is pretty groundbreaking, as panelist for Glee and MC, Tim Hunter, noted. But they still single out Kurt for his gayness (“Single Ladies [Put a Ring on It]” and “Le Jazz Hot!”, anyone?), not to mention how Finn went about outing Santana in “Mash Off”.

They’ve handled the Brittany/Santana thing the best out of every relationship in the show, so that’s one point for lesbianism, but at the expense of other sexual orientations and gender identities, perhaps?

Just look at “The Rocky Horror Glee Show”, for example. Not only to Mike’s parents make him pull out because they don’t want him associated with a “tranny” musical, but the show even substitutes the lyrics “I’m just a sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania” for “sensational Transylvania”. Pardon me, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about in using the word “transsexual”.

Finally, we can’t forget Coach Beiste. When she debuted on the show, her sexuality and gender was thrown up in the air, when she’s really just an unconventionally attractive, masculine straight woman who happens to coach a men’s football team. But of course attention is drawn to her 40-year-old virgin status every time there’s a virginity-themed episode. Because, you know, she’s old and funny-looking and has never been on a date! Riotous!

Ableism.

Where do I start? There’s Emma’s OCD, which is made fun of by everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Holly Holiday to her own parents (not to mention Will trying to come to her rescue by attempting to “cure” her). Artie’s wheelchair-bound way of life, which was even pointed out during the debate, only for the panelists to laugh at Artie wanting to give Blaine a standing ovation, “because he can’t”, and a whole episode, “Wheels”, insensitively dedicated to his disability.

I will applaud the show for their inclusion of, and remarkable sensitivity to, Down’s syndrome sufferers. But then they go and use undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome as an excuse for anti-social and selfish behaviour. Cutting off their nose to spite their face…

Fatism.

Puck’s rendition of “Fat Bottomed Girls” was a clip played at the talk, and was received by audible groans. To see Lauren so uncomfortable as Puck serenaded her was awkward for the audience, and the patronisation was palpable. Like, oh Glee has a plus-sized girl who doesn’t hate herself and is being chased by the hottest guy in school; we’ve come so far.

But when Mercedes is relegated to backing vocals in favour of the slim lined Rachel, can’t get a date and suffers from an alleged eating disorder which is swept under the rug with some sage advice and a granola bar from Quinn, it’s all just tokenism.

So there you have it: the debating of the issues I wished had’ve been brought up by the panel. As my friend, housemate and fellow debate-goer put it: “It was just like Glee: it slightly touched on the issues, but ultimately didn’t add anything new to the discourse.” So feel free to add anything I, or the panel, didn’t cover in the comments.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Original Song” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Brown Eyed Girl.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Duets” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee: T.G.Inappropriate.F.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Rachel Berry as Feminist.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Is Lea Michele Too Sexy?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] In Defence of Rachel Berry.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Boys Will be Boys, Revisited.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee Season 2 Final in Pictures.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Asian F” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The First Time” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee: Santana is Forced Out of the Closet.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The (Belated) Underlying Message in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee “Sexy” Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee Back in Full Force.

Elsewhere: [Bitch Magazine] The Transcontinental Disability Choir: Glee-ful Appropriation.

[Xhibit P] Fat Girls Singing Backup: Body Images in Glee.

[TV.com] Is It Okay to Find Glee’s Plus-Sized Character, Lauren Zizes, Gross?

[Jezebel] Why Won’t Glee Give Mercedes a Boyfriend?

Image via Meg. All Things Me.

Body Image: Brown Eyed Girl.

A few weeks ago, just after I’d watched the “Born This Way” episode of Glee, I served two Asian girls at work.

It was hard to see their eyes properly, as they had a lot of eye makeup on and their fringes were tickling their lashes, but I was pretty sure they had blue—or Elizabeth Taylor violet—contacts in.

It reminded me of Tina Cohen-Chang’s “Brown Eyes” t-shirt from the New Directions’ performance of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”, as part of the 90-minute after-school special on acceptance. In the episode, Tina hates her brown eyes, so takes to wearing blue contact lenses to appear less “Asian”. (Can you really blame her, when her only real characteristic on the show is her Asianess? And her boyfriend, Mike Chang’s, Asianess. For that matter, there are other Asian surnames than just Chang, Ryan Murphy!)

I wasn’t sure if this was an actual phenomenon outside of the pop culture world, but given the propensity of Western, Barbie-esque images to infiltrate other cultures, especially Asian ones, it doesn’t surprise me that blue eyes are all the rage.

As a brown-haired, brown-eyed girl myself, I love my features. But as a child, having both a mother and sister with blonde hair and blue eyes, I did feel like a bit of a black brown sheep until the age of about 10 or 11.

Apparently, even Paris Hilton wears blue contacts to mask her naturally brown peepers.

What do you think? Would you wear coloured contacts to change the shade of your eyes? And have you ever seen any Asian girls wearing obvious contact lenses?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

Image via The Daily Mail.

TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

The underlying message this week is that there is none: acceptance—of Rachel’s Jewish nose, Quinn’s chubby-checker past and Tina’s “Orient descent”—was right there on the surface for all to see.

This is Glee’s second Lady Gaga-themed episode, the first of which was very Gaga-centric, however this week’s effort kicked last seasons’ butt!

The storyline began with Rachel getting hit in the face by Finn during a dance number, and her doctor recommending she get a nose job to fix her deviated septum, like big-nosed babes, Jennifer Aniston and Ashlee Simpson, before her.

She decides to take angel-faced Quinn along to the appointment, using her nose as an example of what she wants the new and improved Rachel to look like.

This is followed up by a tear-jerking rendition of “Unpretty” by TLC by unlikely soul-sisters Rachel and Quinn.

You might remember a few episodes back (although it’s been so long since a new episode has aired, both on Ten and in the U.S., that you could be forgiven for not remembering) when Quinn morphed from struggling with her social standing after giving birth last season to prom-queen obsessed, “I’m relatively sane for a girl”-espousing zombie.

I didn’t buy it then, and I’m glad we get a more in-depth look at her life now.

Lauren Zizes decides to run for prom queen, with Puck by her side as her king. Most of the non-size-two students at McKinley are ecstatic to see someone who looks like them running for prom queen, which should have given Lauren the heads up that her plan to take down Quinn wouldn’t work: she unearths Quinn’s past as Lucy Fabray, before she transferred to McKinley in eighth grade.

Lucy was overweight, uncool, and bullied constantly at her old school, until she joined ballet, gymnastics and cheerleading, lost weight and asked her parents for a nose job, at which point they began to call her by her middle name, Quinn.

Lauren plasters posters of Quinn as Lucy all over the school, which inadvertently sees Quinn’s approval rating go up 40% because her student body realises she’s not just a vapid beautiful person, but someone with problems and a past, just like them.

But not all of the glee club’s members are accepting that they were “born this way” out in the open.

Santana manages to convince Dave Karofsky to help her get Kurt back to McKinley, or else she’ll tell everyone he’s gay. In turn, her “Macbethian” and “Latina Eve Harrington” ways, she believes, will help her become prom queen.

Eventually, word gets back to Kurt about what’s really going on, and he agrees to return to McKinley on the condition that Karofsky be schooled in acceptance of gays and lesbians, even if he doesn’t come out.

Santana could do well to adopt this school of thought, as she is still in the closet and still in pain that Brittany can’t be with her. Brittany makes Santana a “Lebanese” t-shirt for her to wear in this week’s performance (it was meant to say “lesbian”, but it’s a nice tie in to the “Born This Way” lyrics!)

Of course all the storylines are neatly wrapped up into a special 90 minute package, as is Glee’s style. Emma even manages to address her crippling OCD and goes to therapy.

But I think the most interesting “underlying message” of the episode was Santana’s view at the three-minute mark on changing things you’re not happy with.

As much as, on the one hand, our society preaches self-love and acceptance, what of all the beauty products, foods and exercise regimes that are spruiked to us on a daily basis via all mediums?

I don’t want to turn this into a rant on body image and the affect advertisements, magazines, TV, movies etc. have on it, but Santana does raise a good point: if changing things about you, like Rachel’s nose, Tina’s eye colour, or Sam’s “guppy lips”, makes you feel better about yourself, then so be it.

I got a tattoo a couple of weeks ago because I didn’t like the way the back of my neck looked without one; does that make me “hate myself”? Hell no! Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am confident in who I am, both on the inside and the outside. (Those who don’t just think I’m an arrogant bitch!)

But I think that if you are happy with yourself in general in most aspects of your life and can engage in “active critical thought” about the things you aren’t, what’s a little hairdo change here or gym membership there?

Or—dare I say it?—a nose job?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Original Song” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Gwyneth Paltrow Addresses Tabloid Culture & Her Haters.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee “Sexy” Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Blame it on the Alcohol” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] How to Make a Woman Fall in Love With You, Glee Style.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee “Silly Love Songs” Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Furt” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The (Belated) Underlying Message in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Duets” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Britney/Brittany” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

Images via Megavideo.

TV: The (Belated) Underlying Message in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

I was unable to catch up on Glee when it aired last week, so I decided not to write about the latest episode’s “underlying meaning”. However, after watching it over the weekend, I think there is an important message that needs to be talked about; just like every other episode this season!

While Glee can sometimes turn into an after-school special, “Never Been Kissed” was more of an “hour long ‘It Gets Better’ video”, as Jezebel puts it, focussed around Kurt’s struggles with being the target of homophobia and Coach Beiste’s sexual inexperience and objectification as an anti-sex symbol.

It will be interesting to see if the usually lacklustre writers will continue the storyline in which Kurt’s bully and member of the football team, Dave Karofsky, is tormenting Kurt because in actual fact, Dave is confused about his own sexual orientation. But what I found most interesting about the episode was Beiste’s storyline.

When Sam asks Finn how to “cool down” when making out with “chaste” Quinn, Finn relays his story of running down a postman with his car. Sam decides to use a mental image of Beiste in lingerie, and passes this on to the other guys. Somehow, Tina gets hold of this information and also uses a mental image of Beiste when making out with Mike. When Sam and Tina accidentally let slip Beiste’s name during make-out sessions with their significant others, it somehow gets back to Mr. Schuester, who “says [that] Beiste can never find out, though he winds up telling her himself in the very next scene”!

I can’t imagine how hurtful that must have been for Coach Beiste (yes, I am aware Glee is fictional and the characters DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE FEELINGS), especially when it is revealed that she’s “never been kissed”, hence the title of the episode, and never made to feel beautiful.

But the glee clubbers make good by dedicating their mash-up of “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Free Your Mind” to Beiste, which ends in an inappropriate group hug, not to mention Will attempting to kiss Beiste’s insecurities away. It’s not that easy, Mr. Inappropriate Glee Teacher!

[Jezebel] Kurt Gets Kissed in Hour-Long “It Gets Better” Video.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Duets” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Britney/Brittany” Episode.

TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Duets” Episode.

Following on from last week’s controversial episode, this week’s Glee deals with the students pairing off into couples for “Duets”. All except Kurt, of course, who is unable to find a partner, not only to sing with, but also to be with in the romantic sense.

This theme is timely after the suicide of gay teen Tyler Clementi, who was filmed having sex with another man by his roommate, who was then going to broadcast the footage online, and the subsequent campaigning by Ellen DeGeneres and her fellow celebrities to stop gay bullying, and that life does get better.

Kurt expresses interest in duetting with the new kid, Sam, but Finn warns him against it, as the “ensuing beatings” will force Sam out of glee. Of course, Kurt thinks Finn still has issues with his homosexuality, but Finn retorts that they live in a (homophobic) man’s, man’s, man’s world, and breaks out the “no means no” shtick.

Later on, Burt Hummel, who is out of the hospital after last week’s stint in ICU, reiterates Finn’s sentiments, and Kurt asks, “So a gay guy can’t be friendly to a straight guy without it being predatory… You’re saying I shouldn’t sing with this Sam guy because it might upset a couple [of] homophobes?”

The episode also deals with the other kinds of pairings the glee club members engage in. There’s Brittany and Santana, whose lesbian relationship is taken to new levels this week when they’re shown kissing on screen; the proverbial straights, Rachel and Finn and Sam and Quinn; the (perhaps stereotypical) strong black women, Mercedes and Santana, singing “River Deep, Mountain High”; the “Asians”, Tina and Mike, who are having relationship issues and will attend “Asian couples therapy”; and the sensitive issue of Artie’s disability, how it relates to his sex life, and his deflowering by Brittany in this episode.

Thus, this leaves us with loner Kurt, who has more than enough personality and pizzazz to pull off “‘Le Jazz Hot!’ from Victor/Victoria” and steals the show.

Kurt is a strong enough character that he doesn’t let his peers’ (albeit not is glee club peers) discrimination get to him, and thus he comes across as a teenager who has the courage of his convictions to stay true to himself, a stance which can only serve to encourage and enable other young people struggling with their sexuality to stand up and own it.

Oh, and in a rare show of compassion, Rachel offers to do a duet with Kurt in the final scene, asserting that they’re more alike than they think. Perhaps a straight wife-gay husband relationship to rival Carrie Bradshaw and Stanford Blatch is blooming?

[Jezebel] Everyone’s Duetting It (Except Kurt).

[Jezebel] Why Glee’s Brittany & Santana Are My Queer Icons.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” Episode.