Several weeks ago after the Britney Spears edition I wrote that I was ready to write off Glee. And frankly, of all the episodes in the catalog, that one still should go on the list of shows that Ryan Murphy refuses to show in reruns.
However the next week came on strong with the “Grilled Chesus” episode, dealing head on with the issue of religion and mortality (an episode that Kenda Dean has suggested is a great conversation starter for youth). They followed that with the Rocky Horror take off, with a plot that was a basic jealousy scenario, but was musically quite fun. And then, following a couple of weeks away due to baseball games and other events, I finally caught up with this week’s episode which has restored my faith in the franchise.
If I were to title the show it would be the “No one cares” episode, drawing on Noah Puckerman’s words as he ran from Principal Figgin’s office after learning that he might likely be headed back to juvenile detention. But in fact the show represents the intersection of three oppressed persons, Kurt the gay man who is publicly out in school, the new female football coach who represents those for who society deems unattractive, and although he never really is willing to show it, Puck, who puts on a brave face but is in fact terrified of being sent back to juvie. The episode was light on music, but long on dealing with the issues of homophobia and prejudice, calling all to account for our willingness to lift some up while leaving others behind. And it doesn’t try to sugar coat solutions. In the end, everything isn’t alright. The abusive football player in denial about his own sexuality still abuses Kurt. The glee club kids which have misused the image of their coach apologize, but she is still left with the pain and scars of being different, knowing that that scars are not easily healed. Prejudice, whether intentional (such as the homophobia displayed) or unintentional (the boys using the coach’s image to cool their ardor) is an ugly and difficult thing, and series creator and producer Ryan Murphy is right to not tie up the details into a nice package, instead recognizing that life is messy and the answers don’t come quickly.
So I take back what I said about giving up on Glee. It still isn’t quite as witty and quirky as in the early days, but it is saying important things, and I can even put up with a little Britney if it makes a point.