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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?

Review

Editor Rating: 3.2 / 5.0
  • 3.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (136 Votes)

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

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the Rachel abstinence thing doesn't make any sense cause in the first season she was making out with Finn, Puck, Jesse (and if you rewatch these episodes, you clearly see that 'Grilled Cheesus' move was way less than what she was doing in the first season). Moreover, when she briefly joined the celebacy club last year, she told everyone that everyone was wanting sex (especially girls). It's not the first time Glee has strange plot that doesn't follow what they've done before but sometimes (okay, most of the time, it's really borry).
Moreover, in Grilled Cheesus, she didn't say that she wanted to wait until she will be 25 to have sex, but to have a bunch of babies (that's really different)

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i disagree with yout statement about bullying. a lot of bullies have been bullied before, and there are plenty of stories of an overcompensation of homophobia because they feel ashamed. I have met few bullies who do it just because they think it's fun. Your explanation isn't more complicated, it's less. it's the stero-typical bully. this added another layer, and i think it's compltely realistic that he'd kiss kurt then push him the next day. also, the thing with rachel is, they're only what, sophmores? maybe seniors? there are a lot of girls who aren't willing to sleep with people that age, about 50% actually, according to statistics

Whipped-by-damon

I loved the Kurt storyline, it made sense, and while I was shocked when the bully kissed him, it was indeed the easy way out. Not all bullies act out in such a manner, most of them are just keeping people down to elevate themselves and because they are petrified that someone is going to see how scared they really are about life. I didn't dislike the episode or even the Beiste setup but I did dislike making Will kiss Beiste, it was unnecessary and it was a bit cruel because how could that kiss have been anything other than a pity smooch. I also wonder why Rachel is now cast as the girl that won't have sex, she has always been open about her sexuality and that she is willing to be intimate with someone special. It just seems odd to me that she is made to be holding off on sex until she's 25! And why oh why must they cast the Glee girls as either as completely off sex or very promiscuous?? That all aside...I really love Glee!

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.

Puck

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

Quinn

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
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