Glee Review: A Beiste of an Issue

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Glee really is turning into a series of hour-long Public Service Announcements.

The topic on "Never Been Kissed?" Bullying. An important and relevant one, no doubt. But the way in which the episode forced the issue and insisted that each storyline was an example of this troubling action made me roll my eyes more often than dab them from tears, of laughter or of sorrow.

Male New Directions

Kurt, of course, was the focus of the hour - and I very much enjoyed his time on screen. Darren Criss was perfectly cast as Blaine and it makes perfect sense we'd dedicate an installment to the struggle Kurt faces as the only openly gay student at William McKinley.

It's also nice to see this relationship established as more of a mentor/student type than an immediate romance. Someone like Blaine would definitely take someone like Kurt under his homosexual wing before even contemplating anything more.

And the rendition of "Teenage Dream?!?" Sorry, Katy Perry, you've been shown up.

Still, I take issue with the football player kissing Kurt. Was it shocking? Absolutely. But it was also the easy way out. I'm sure there are many closeted jocks out there who only know how to deal with their feelings by turning against them in a violent, abusive manner.

However, I'm also confident in saying that a majority of bullies are simply mean because they are high school students, and most high school students are insecure, and a number of them deal with that insecurity by putting others down. Granted, Glee treads in over-the-top stereotypes, from gay Kurt to diva Rachel to dim-witted Finn. And the type of bully I just described is more nuanced and complicated.

But if a show is gonna tackle a realistic issue such as bullying, I'd prefer if it did it in a realistic manner. This kiss didn't feel like that that. It felt like a convenient way for the writers to tie Kurt's storyline together.

Sam and Quinn Photo

Mainly, though, I had a Beiste of a problem with this episode. First, Glee's habit of overdoing stereotypes came into play. A significant number of high school girls fall somewhere in between Santana and Rachel. They don't either spread their legs for everyone who takes them to Breadsticks, or keep them closed no matter how long they've been dating someone.

So it feels like a stretch to have so many characters picturing Coach Beiste in order to... relax. That complaint aside, did the kids really do anything wrong? Will was the one who blabbed their secret to Beiste. They were supposed to feel badly because of their personal thought process?!?

I've read columns by other critics that have called out Will for no longer being a character. He's merely a device for the writers to move various plots along. That's very much what it felt like here.

Look, thinking unsexy thoughts is something many guys do in those situations. And, I'm sorry, but Coach Beiste is unattractive. Sure, she might be beautiful on the inside and, absolutely, there's an important message to send about that. But the way this episode went about it felt cheap and manipulative.

In the end, as much as I absolutely loved the "Stop in the Name of Love/Free Your Mind" mash-up, I don't think the guys had anything to apologize for. Do you?

Finally, we get to Will and Beiste's kiss. Was this really as sweet a moment as the show wanted it to be? Will gave her a great speech. I was on board for all of it. But no matter how much you dress it up or pretend otherwise, he kissed her out of pity. It was a rather presumptuous move, as Beiste may very well have wanted her first smooch to be with a man who had actual feelings for her.

Not someone, who, again, feels more and more like a person who is around to make whatever points the writers want to make every episode about their Pressing Societal Topic of the Week.

Overall, I still love Glee. I love that it's different and that it tackles vital issues in interesting ways. But there are times when it goes overboard in trying to take a stand. My favorite episodes are ones that incorporate messages and points of view into an episode that might not directly deal with sex, or bullying, or Britney Spears.

I may receive flak for it, but "Never Been Kissed" didn't fall into that category for me. What did everyone else think?


Editor Rating: 3.2 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (136 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


The Kurt storyline...well, I mean it's easy to sit home and judge the episodes and what the writers did good and what they failed to do, etc etc, but I think they handled it okay. I know they do want to have an impact on society and all that but at the end of the day, it IS a show and a show's FIRST goal (not the only goal, but it is the most important thing) is to get ratings. If written 100% realistically, I think it'd be quite a bit touchy and not very interesting. Sorry, it's just my opinions on this. I'm looking forward to Blaine though, :p

Anna maria

I totally agree with this review! I thought there was nothing wring in picturing her, will just shouldn't have said anything! and @Rinat I alos yelled eew and paused it immediately to ask my friend who had already seen it if he had really kissed her. that was unnecessary! it's also hard to beleive she's never been kissed..even when she was a teen? hmm..weird


In the first episode (of the first season), Rachel said she was a sophomore. I think in the "Like a Virgin" episode, Rachel made a conscious decision not to have sex, that up until then, she was exploring who would be the right person and under what circumstances to lose her virginity. That is, there sort of is continuity; however, the show's writers have always thrown out any continuity that would interfere with "the message" in each show. I thought Will was rather patronizing with Beiste and that her willingness to go along made it hard to believe her feelings. I also can't imagine a teacher who's feelings would be hurt by finding out the kids in high school found them to be a turn off and didn't want to have sex with them. Don't teachers often joke to their students about the students' perceived divide between teacher-student generations? I don't see it as students bullying teachers for being homely in their eyes. I also think, from personal experience, that the normal reaction of those bullied in school is to avoid conflict and confrontation by avoiding any unnecessary contact and distrusting any unavoidable contact. One learns to keep one's head down and to never look at anyone to avoid accidentally meeting their eyes and thus coming to their attention. I don't believe Beiste would either let on how much she was hurt and I don't believe she would have allowed Will to discuss the matter with her because she wouldn't trust it or want to hear it and I don't believe she would allow him to patronize her, thus stripping her of any sense of being a human being in her own eyes. Bullies are dangerous only when they have an audience. If they're dangerous in private, they are sociopaths and not bullies. There is a difference. I suppose there's a chance Kurt would get a kiss in private from a bully -- but I suspect it was the wishful suspicion of the show's executives that all homophobes are closet homosexuals. I'd also say, lastly, that just because a school has a zero tolerance policy doesn't mean that everyone embraces and celebrates diversity! But, as Hemingway said, isn't it pretty to think so.


Puck y Artie was sooo cool, I love their performance!!!


If only the show would reach to the other side of the rainbow...the lesbian side... Don't get me wrong, I teared up pretty much every time Blaine and Kurt were on screen together. And "Courage"? Amazing. But Kurt's had so many storylines and yet the closest thing to a lesbian on the show is Brittany who also happens to be a complete slut and airhead. Buffy did wonders for me when I was younger, but I haven't seen a lesbian relationship on TV since 2003. Come on Glee, keep pushing those boundaries!


I agree with everything except for the kurt/jock kiss. I don't think it was an easy way out.. I think the show is just trying to portray different types of ways highschoolers handle being gay, Point being: Blaine ran away from his problem, Jock is taking his anger out on anybody who is differnt and Kurt stood up for himself. On the other hand i saw it coming this episode so maybe i looked at it differently, instead of just wondering what that kids problem was i had already assumed that the kiss would happen.


i personally loved this episode- they came back to what makes this show great: stories focused on the characters and their unique personalities, not just paying tribute to a celebrity or style of music. (that being said, I also did love the Rocky Horror episode, but it was just fun!) Sue Sylvester continues to crack me up- "I'm gonna have to look at some horrific things to get this image out of my head. Gonna have to go to the wound care center. Gonna have to look at some wounds." (or something like that LOL)


good but average


In the review you say: "that a majority of bullies are simply mean because they are high school students, and most high school students are insecure, and a number of them deal with that insecurity by putting others down". I know this happens a lot but this is now a normal behavior.
But people are lazy. People are lazy and they think it is ok to have this kind of behavior around because it takes a lot more effort to change those narrow-minded teenagers. The kids who pout others down in order to make themselves feel better are just accentuating the problem. I have been thought that on high school. I was an average student, I wasn't popular but I wasn't the loner, I was cute, but no the prettiest. And sometimes other girls took advantage of that, I wouldn't use advantage, because that would imply being pretty or popular was something better than what I had in hs, but they did misstreat certain groups as if they were superior to rest of us. That's not normal. I was always lucky enough to have a great support system, friends and family, so that didn't get to me at all, but some friends actually got hurt by them so I did fight against that hostile behavior.
In my opinion, Glee is not pushing or forcing anything. The stereotype overdo have always been present in all episodes if you people haven't noticed. You watch Glee because you want to hear what they have to say, and what they are saying right now is that the bullies are the ones in need of help.

Chair me up

i loved the focus on kurt. i feel deep sypmathy for him, i hope he'll stay strong. and the way they did teenage dream, though i love katy perry, was better for me, than the original.

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Glee Season 2 Episode 6 Quotes

There's no way I'm going back to juvee. There's no chicks and no Kosher meals in that place.


A little something something always leads to something more. I've been there, remember?


Glee Season 2 Episode 6 Music

  Song Artist
Livin on a prayer Livin' On a Prayer Glee Cast iTunes
One love One Love Glee Cast iTunes
Song Stop in the Name of Love/Free Your Mind Glee Cast iTunes