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+.


I too thought the show dodged the issue of bullying and made it about something else. That it turned out to be about coming to grips with the difficulties of being gay in a straight world was okay by me. The jock kiss DID come out of the blue, and is a choice. I noticed that they didn't bring his buddy, the other jock into the ep. Con VEN ient. The entire "One To Grow On" scene with Will and and Shannon Beiste I was saying "Don't kiss her. Don't kiss her. Don't kiss her." because it was only going to come out to be a pity kiss. That's no what Beiste was after....On the other hand. If I were in her position, even that small gesture would be a balm to me. I'd know it wasn't a gesture of love, but after years of something else, I'd take a gesture of honest friendship, and take it for what it was. Funny, when I started typing this paragraph, I was going to go the other way, but now, I'm fine with the moment. I thought the glam rock girl's song this week was terrible.


When the kiss part aires, i literally shouted out, one huge "EW" and closed my eyes.


Never been here before but here are my thoughts. In regards to the episode, I think it was one of the better ones of the season. It wasn't gimmicky or laying it thick in tribute to any one artist. I feel Kurt is the only character with a storyline this season, but no complaints here, he's my favorite. I do also hope blaine stays as a mentor and eventually he meets someone else, maybe even the bully. I had hopes for Sam beeing closeted but now it would be overkill. Yes I understand that not all bullies are closeted homos, but just because not all of them are doesn't mean that this one shoudln't be. It brings up many more possibilities. As for the bieste storyline, i liked it. It was funny but it did point out something good. Bieste still wants to feel like a woman. I was revolted however by the fact that the man slut, will, stole her first kiss. I literraly wanted to strangle him. I hope they bring up this issue, with them either dating, or him paying for that. 'cause that was worse than even Puck dining and dashing. His story line was lame too. They tried to hard to make him seem "bad". Rant Over, Sorry. Still a good show.

I adore chair

I really like the episode.
I think that Chris Colfer is plays Kurt perfectly, loved the Teenage Dream rendition and I actually like Blaine, I thought it was creepy though that Kurt had a picture of him in his locker, framed and everything. I was not expecting the Jock to kiss Kurt, that threw me for a loop but now that I think about it, it did feel forced. I loved Sue's lines, as always.. it's funny that she's always trying to get rid of Beiste, maybe she's jealous of her idk. I loved Puck's storyline, I think it made him more human and likable and I loved tha performance of One Love, the Artie/Puck friendship is pretty interesting. I loved the mash up songs. Both of them were really good. I thought the Beiste sl was pretty funny, I guess that's mean but it was for comedy, I feel bad for her sure, maybe the girls will give her a makeover of something, that would be nice..... I thought that Will was going to kiss her, and it just didn't seem right, I know he had good intentions but come on Will you ruined her first kiss. Overeall I thought it was a good episode, loved the numbers and next weeks looks really good as well.

Matt richenthal

@Monty: I respectfully disagree. If you ask Ryan Murphy, I'm sure he'd be the first to say his goal with Glee is to be much more than just a TV show at this point.
They created this episode specifically in light of the recent gay suicides/tragedies at the hands of bullying. That's fine, that's their call - but no other show would ever think about doing this. There's absolutely a desire to have a societal impact beyond mere entertainment.


First. I think a lot of people look at Glee for more than what it actually is. Yes, they do deal with social issues and topical issues but they are not out to "change the world". Ultimately its just a TV show, its just entertainment. Anyone who thinks it is more than that will become disillusioned with the show over time. Enjoy it for what it is. I thought the gay kiss was a bit strange and didnt really deal with the issue of bullying. Most high school bullys are not closeted homosexuals trying to deny their feelings, however, the show might have some effect in the long run. I would say about 99% of high school girls, and a healthy percentage of high school boys, both very impressionable and easily influenced, watch this show. Now when a bully starts to pick on someone there will be a thought of "maybe he's in the closet". Now most jock/bullies probably dont watch the show but word, and rumor, travels fast in a high school. Being labeled "gay" is not the type of reputation these people like to have. Conceviably, this could help curtail bullying to some degree.


I actually see the kiss coming when i saw the look the jock gave to kurt after he pushed kurt....
I am actually surprised that most of you didn't see it.... (is being gay a factor...? :P) well.. About blaine it would be much better if he will stay as a mentor/friend to kurt... Yes, kurt will highly probably fall for him, but it's out of desperation... And it's kind of sad if they have a relationship... it will send an ugly message that gay guys will easily fall for the first other gay they encounter....(well, i can't really blame kurt tho, blaine is totally cute ;P )
I would much prefer the jock becoming kurt's love interest while kurt helps the jock out of closet... It would be much more interesting


Though the kiss between Beiste and Will was sweet, it was a little "ugh", too. I know it's just a kiss, but it's a kiss she'd been waiting 40 years for.
I loved the confetti cannon scene with Sue. It was hilariously terrifying. I'm glad they showed that Sue is a bully but kind of hoped they'd show it more, because everyone knows she's the biggest bully on the show.
I agree with the Karofsky thing. That kiss COMPLETELY caught me off guard (kudos to the Glee staff for really shocking me for the first time) but I still wanted to see how Kurt would handle the situation otherwise. Though I must admit I kind of like that storyline, even if it felt very sudden. I mean, wasn't he just drooling over Rachel a few episodes ago?
Darren Criss is excellent in his role. His line "well he's not coming out any time soon" was delivered perfectly. Basically, the guy is good.


I couldn't agree more... Sometimes it feels that I still love Glee (and I do) because I want to (so freaking much) rather than because it delivers good material. I have a huge issue with storyline and development and it bugs me since the back nine last season. Some say there are back on track with character development but I don't. I kinda get anxious when I hear about a song to be featured on the show because I can't help thinking "how will they bend the storyline for it to serve the song" (shouldn't be the other way around??).
I still find enjoyment in most episodes taken individually but as a whole it’s lacking to me.

Matt richenthal

@warha: You're right. I should have stuck with "nuanced" over "complicated," but I do stick to my point: most bullies aren't closeted gays. That's too easy of an explanation for the show's benefit. Elsewhere, not sure why you take exception to my point about sex and high school girls. Okay, 50% of them wait to have sex - is that any different than what I said? Wasn't my entire point that there's a wide range of students and that not everyone is as conservative as Rachel or as loose as Santana?

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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