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Glee – Kurt stands up to his bully

The show gets back on the right track with an outstanding episode about physical and psychological bullying, as Kurt finally stand up to his bully and may also have found someone to love.

- Season 2, Episode 6 - "Never Been Kissed"

As much as I love Glee, I’m kind of disappointed with the season so far, because each episode has been more about the theme than the characters. Until tonight, only the third episode has given us some terrific storytelling. Tonight, though, it was all about the story and how a particular subject that has become prominent in our own society today affects several people at McKinley High: bullying.

Forgive me for getting out my soap box here, but I believe this will be one of the most important episodes of Glee, or any other series, this season. It’s heartbreaking to hear about young people committing suicide after years of bullying, and it’s downright horrifying to hear the reactions of some people like school board members and religious leaders. Tonight, Ryan Murphy and everyone involved with Glee used the medium of television to its best advantage. What really made this episode special was that it wasn’t just about Kurt being bullied for being openly gay, it was about more subtle forms of bullying that no one thinks about until another’s feelings are hurt (even Perez Hilton has gotten that message).

What started out as something innocent, or at least not intentionally malicious, ended up hurting Coach Beiste so much that she resigned from McKinley, much to Sue’s glee. No one ever thought that using Coach as a means to “cool down” during a make-out session would be anything more than an anti-fantasy, but no one ever stopped to think how Coach would feel if she found out the guys were using her image as a turn-off. The chat she had with Will was heartbreaking, and to find out that at the age of 40 she’d never been kissed was just so sad. I think Will handled the situation very well, and I worried that she would take his kiss for more than it was, but the scene never went further than it should have. It was nice for the guys to realize what jerks they had been and dedicated their performance to her. This was the most we’ve seen of Coach Beiste since the first episode this season, and now that we’ve gotten to know her better, I hope she sticks around.

This week also saw the return of Puck from juvie, and it was interesting to find out that for all of his bravado around Artie and the others, telling his tales of being the top dog in juvie, that Puck was bullied and terrified during his incarceration; so much so that he would disappear before going back if his probation was revoked. I was a little worried that Puck was going to be a bad influence over Artie, but the tables were nicely turned when Artie made Puck his personal project.

The biggest story this week was Kurt’s bullying and the introduction of Blaine (Darren Criss), potential boyfriend material for Kurt — we’ll have to see how that plays out, since Blaine sings in a rival glee club and a similar situation didn’t work out so well for Rachel. Kurt’s bully, Dave Karofsky (Max Adler), has been slamming Kurt into lockers pretty much from the beginning, and no one really seemed to think it was a big deal. Kurt found himself (and Blaine!) at the boys’ school where he was actually spying to see what they were up to for sectionals. But after an inspiring talk with Blaine (an exceptionally well-written scene), Kurt found the courage to finally stand up to his bully. I don’t think anyone saw Dave’s reaction coming and it was a shock when he grabbed Kurt and kissed him, but it all makes sense, because they say those with such deep-seated anger and hatred are usually the ones hiding something from themselves. Blaine tried to help Kurt with a sort of intervention to help Dave — if not come out — at least deal with his feelings, but he’s still a bit too far in the closet for anything to happen yet. It will be interesting to see where Dave’s story goes from here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Murphy has Dave’s deep-seated feelings of confusion and revulsion end tragically as a way to send a message to those like him that there are other ways to deal with those feelings; that there are people out there who are accepting and that, yes, it will get better.

Bravo to Murphy, Chris Colfer and everyone involved with Glee for tackling this subject honestly. It certainly could be a turning point for the series, getting it back on the storytelling track and letting the music be more organic to the plot. I hope that they don’t squander all of the positive steps they made this week.

“You can’t punch the gay out of me any more than I can punch the ignoramus out of you.” – Kurt standing up to Dave

“How do we find the only two girls in high school that won’t put out?” – Finn

“How are we supposed to compete against a bunch of adorable old people?” – Mercedes learning of their sectionals competition
“Are you kidding? Brittle bones. Give one of those old ladies a good luck pat on the rear, it’ll shatter her pelvis.” – Puck

“Look, we’re not tossing out the baby with the bath water here.” – Will
“I’ve totally done that.” – Brittany

“Watch your tone with me, missy. You crap on my leg, I’ll cut it off.” – Coach Beiste, still not getting the hang of a comeback line

“It’s very civilized of you to invite me for coffee before you beat me up for spying.” – Kurt

Photo Credit: Fox

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Categories: | Episode Reviews | Features | General | Glee | TV Shows |

23 Responses to “Glee – Kurt stands up to his bully”

November 10, 2010 at 1:50 AM

No matter how relevant the bullying storyline was, objectively, it was sloppy storytelling, very cliched and eye-rolling in its very execution. But then again, the whole series has turned into plot points after plot points that have no natural (or believable) trajectory. These aren’t characters anymore, they’ve become caricatures, and it’s really disappointing because this show has such potential to be an important voice, but instead has become a preachy show that I’m starting to hate.

I had such high hopes for it when it premiered, but now I’m giving it up for good. I hope it can turn itself around because I think a show LIKE this (only with sharper writing and better characterization) is needed on TV.

November 10, 2010 at 8:02 AM

I was thinking along the same lines last night. I remember really liking the characters last season, and now I don’t really care about any of them. Will kissing Beiste was sweet and I’m glad Kurt has a hero, but the characters don’t resonate with me anymore.

November 10, 2010 at 11:06 AM

I have to agree with you two.

The characters are so cartoon like that you can’t really feel for them. Plus, let’s be honest, Kurt is a dick. I’m glad a couple episodes ago his dad had a chat with him about him hitting on straight guys and how the straight guys aren’t homophobic, they just want Kurt to stop flirting with them. He is still a dick and doesn’t deserve to be happy. Plus next week they will come up with stories lines that won’t fit the characters at all.

The kiss was interesting, it was shocking, but perfectly fitting. I went to a very homophobic high school and the guys who don’t care about gay guys are the ones who are fine with their sexuality. The homophobes are always the ones still in the closet, just look at all the republicans sex sandals.

Glee is a show about singing and nothing else. However I can’t wait to hear people complain how there was a gay kiss on a “family show”.

November 10, 2010 at 11:43 AM

I forgot…

The scene when Kurt visited the all boy school. That was the most unreal thing I have ever seen on this show! An all boy school doesn’t think it’s gay at all to start randomly singing and dancing, none of them are homophobes. Plus it’s perfectly “cool” to be in an all boy school singing and dancing around when the song singing is a sexual song!

Perfectly normal!

November 10, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Sure is a lot of hate being thrown at a TV show addressing that very issue!

November 10, 2010 at 12:20 PM

And if they were addressing that issue in a better way, maybe people wouldn’t have such a problem with it.

The intention they have is nice, but their execution is laughable, and there’s nothing wrong with calling that out or at the very least expressing one’s opinion. It’s called television criticism, not bullying or hatred or bigotry.

November 10, 2010 at 12:13 PM

Ok, just wondering how old everyone is that is posting. As a mother of two children that were bullied all through school, to the point that my daughter even felt that she had to quit, this was an episode that I am glad came on. I agree the show has changed but if it has changed to address issues that plague teenagers, I am ok with it. I do not think it is right to downplay the issues that they are facing because there is not enough singing and dancing in the episode. If you remember last year, they still addressed issues that teens have such as being overweight and teen pregnancy. I hate to see what is going to be said if the football player commits suicide (which happens far too often)because he cannot admit his feelings or is afraid but as long as there is singing and dancing…

November 10, 2010 at 12:23 PM

It’s not that they’re trying to discuss the issues at all that I have a problem with. You’re right, these are valid issues plaguing teenagers everywhere, so it’s nice that they want to tackle them. My criticism is in the execution ONLY. What was once a very smart show will the potential to have well-rounded characters deliver gut-checking storylines is long past. What good do these storylines do if they’re written so poorly and so over-the-top and cliche’d that people laugh at them and don’t take the issue to heart?

I’m a fan of good television, and I have no problem saying when I think good television has gone bad, no matter what world problem the show is trying to solve in the meantime.

November 10, 2010 at 12:39 PM

I’m 25, gay and was bullied through high school, do you really want to argue with me over being bullied in high school?

Everyone is bullied in high school, even the bullies. While it’s sad that teens feel the need to kill themselves, it isn’t just the bullying that made them do it, it’s other issues, and mental issues.

The problem, as Monica has been pointing out, is that it was done HORRIBLY. When Kurt stood up to the bully I was so happy, the kiss was unsurprisingly shocking, but everything leading to that point was a joke, the show is one big joke. If they started off being more serious about it last year this would have been a great piece. Instead it was mostly lecturing the audience about how bad bullying is why making stupid jokes. it seems that everyone over the age of 30 thinks that bullying was invented this year and that Glee jumped on the bag wagon.

Great TV does a balance between comedy, drama, and expressing a point without lecturing. Glee isn’t great TV, it’s fun entertainment.
I talked to my mom after the show ended and she pointed out a few places that she said were so eye rolling, like having sex in the classroom. I told her that it isn’t that far off, but the point is moments like that take away from the heart of the story and makes the episode too laughable and not serious enough.

November 10, 2010 at 1:02 PM

I am sorry, did not mean to offend anyone here nor do I wish to argue. I in no way think bullying just started this generation, I was bullied in school also. I guess my outlook on bullying clouded my judgement of this episode entirely.

November 10, 2010 at 3:25 PM

I have to take exception with your claim that kids who have killed themselves have other issues or mental issues and bullying wasn’t the reason for their decisions. Really? From your posts, you sound like a really self-loathing gay person, especially when saying Kurt is a dick who doesn’t deserve to be happy because he’s attracted to the straight boys at school. Again, who else is he supposed to be attracted to???

But back to your suggestion of mental illness. I know two guys who committed suicide because they were gay and they weren’t physically bullied but they were emotionally bullied by their own families who told them they were worthless, sick, degenerate perverts. Even with a support group of friends who did accept them, being told you’re lower than dirt by your own family is too much for some. If you want to say the depression caused them to kill themselves, then so be it if that makes you feel better. But they would not have been depressed to that point of despair if they hadn’t been emotionally bullied by their own loved ones. That’s a lot for anyone to deal with, and I take offense at your dismissal of bullying not being the cause for those suicides.

November 10, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Wow, let’s all take a step back here and think about this TV show that seems to have enraged more people than actually made think about the real issue. I don’t know why most of you say the execution was poor. I don’t know, maybe the show was written more quickly than usual to address a very current issue (and yes, bullying has been around forever but it’s effects have been in the news lately). The show has always balanced the dramatic with the humorous with the absurd. Anyone remember Will’s wife faking her pregnancy? Quinn getting pregnant and dealing with her situation was handled very well, but Will’s wife’s antics were eye-rolling and the fact that it took Will so long to catch on was ludicrous. But I didn’t hear people complaining about the absurdity of that.

Kurt has been bullied from the beginning of the show and he blew it off like most kids who get picked on in school do. But there comes a point when you either face your attacker or run away from it, or worse. There was nothing funny about that part of the story. And just because the show depicted an all boys school that had a zero tolerance policy for bullying that you’ve never seen before doesn’t mean it can’t exist in the real world. And for those who think Kurt is a dick for always being attracted to the straight guys at school … who else is he supposed to be attracted to??? He’s the only openly gay boy there. He doesn’t have any other options and being a teenager, he doesn’t really have control over his desires. Straight or gay, kids in high school usually have crushes and desires for people who would never give them the time of day. I don’t think Kurt being attracted to Finn or Sam is that absurd. His dad gave him good advice and he’s taken it to heart. But to call the character a dick for being a teenager with uncontrollable sexual urges simply because he’s a gay kid attracted to the only other boys he knows, well, smacks of bullying. It just seems that a lot of these comments are coming from people who may have never been in Kurt’s or Coach Beiste’s situations and therefore found the whole thing absurd.

At least the episode has gotten people talking. Unfortunately, most of them seemed to have missed the whole point of it.

November 10, 2010 at 3:39 PM

You just wrote the most ludicrous thing I have ever read on this site and makes me wonder if you really have any clue about bullying is. I would be insulted by what you wrote if I didn’t think you have completely lost your mind.

Liking Finn is one thing, I would check out half the guys at my high school. They knew it. Towards the end it was the only reason I didn’t drop out. Kurt had a crush, fine, what he was doing wasn’t fine. He went out of his way to make Finn uncomfortable, and then got upset when Finn yelled at him for treating him like a boyfriend. Kurt thinks Finn is a homophobe for not liking him back? That’s just stupid and makes the character a bigger ass as he just gets more and more upset at Finn and treats Finn worse and worse. if he were doing it to a girl on the show we would say it was sexual harassment! Were we supposed to feel bad for Kurt because he was using him being gay as an excuse to act like a dick? No fucking way, Kurt was a horrible person for the first year plus of the show until a few episodes ago when his dad finally said something to him. Just because he’s gay isn’t an excuse for what he was doing to Finn. We all check people out we will never get, but never ever go anywhere near as far as Kurt was going. Not even Puck was as bad as Kurt was!

I saw the point of the episode, and I’m glad Kurt finally stood up. What some of our problem seems to be is that it was too much and took away from the seriousness of the issue. It felt like an after school special at times, too preachy, and the other parts of the episode felt like the topic was a big joke.

I don’t think we are “enraged”, we just think the episode could have been something really special and it wasn’t because this is Glee.

By the way, I don’t know if I bitched about Will’s wife here, but I’m pretty sure I did. The fans elsewhere also thought it was incredibly stupid. After awhile we just tried to ignore it.

November 10, 2010 at 4:57 PM

I’m not suggesting that what Kurt did to Finn was okay. He did cross a line, but he has no other people to direct his attentions to and when you’re in that type of situation, maybe you hope that just maybe the person you like will return your affections. But to say that because of his attraction to and behavior toward Finn makes him undeserving of happiness is … ludicrous.

And I don’t think you know or understand what bullying is because you freely checked out guys at school and they didn’t mind, so lucky you. And I assume your family accepts you as well. But bullying comes in many forms – physical, emotional and verbal. Being physically abused is a horrible thing, but having your families verbally and emotionally abuse you is probably worse than being beat up. You don’t seem to understand that, so there’s no point in trying to reason with you. I’m a lot older than you and I’ve seen the results of all of these forms of abuse on both gay and straight people. So until you experience any of these things first-hand or see for yourself someone who has or is being abused, you’ll never get it.

November 10, 2010 at 7:53 PM

You should have been around here and in the LiveClack’s last season. Trust me, people were complaining about the ludicrousness of the whole Teri plotline :)

November 10, 2010 at 2:03 PM

I’m going to step away from most of the comments here and say I’m just thrilled Darren Criss is singing on TV. I loved him in A Very Potter Musical and he is adorable.

November 10, 2010 at 3:40 PM

I think the reason that person called Kurt a dick, is because he is a dick and it has nothing to do with who he is attracted to.

Kurt has been a jerk to Rachel since the beginning of the show, in his own way he bullied Rachel, along with the help of Mercedes. Kurt has been petty, downright juvenile, and has played up every gay stereotype I’ve ever seen. I see next to nothing rootworthy about his character at all. Yes, he has been bullied himself and it’s horrible to see any kid going through that, but Kurt is not some innocent little victim here. He is just as guilty of bullying as Dave, he just does it using words and manipulations.

I don’t think he doesn’t deserve to be happy, but he isn’t the character I root for on this show by any means. All of the kids at that school and in the club are messed up and do crappy things, and Kurt is not exempt from that, as seen by his actions towards Rachel, Finn, Sam, and everyone that shares a different opinion than him or is different than him.

November 10, 2010 at 4:40 PM

No, I think the comment was basically Kurt is a dick because he hits on the straight guys who don’t want him to, his dad gave him a talking to and told him to stop, and he doesn’t deserve happiness because of his attraction to the straight guys.

But every character on the show is a “type” – Rachel is self-absorbed and a bitch, Quinn is the cheerleader who thinks she’s above everyone else, Santana and Brittany are the mean girls/school sluts, Mercedes is the sassy black chick, Finn is the jock, Puck is the bad boy, Artie is the handicapped kid, Tina is the freak, and Kurt is the gay boy with gay attitude. I know plenty of gay people who are like that. Sometimes, especially in a situation where you are always the downtrodden one, you have to come off as arrogant and superior just to get through the day. We’ve seen Kurt be vulnerable, so just because he acts like a dick in school, doesn’t mean he really is like that in private. But, they’re just TV characters and all TV characters are “types.”

November 10, 2010 at 3:48 PM

I don’t like Kurt because he’s snobby and condescending, just thought I’d throw that out there. That said, I thought the bullying story was well-done, even if the all-boys school did seem a little too idealistic, especially for Kurt’s situation. I thought they would’ve been better-served to show that Blaine was one of many students, and not just standing out as “the gay kid,” even if he was one of the few.

I went to a private high school (co-ed) with a couple of openly gay kids, and I was always proud of the fact that it wasn’t really a big thing, though I’m sure there were a few comments here and there

November 10, 2010 at 5:32 PM

BTW everyone, Chris Colfer tweeted that this episode was the beginning of the show’s bullying saga, so we’ll see where it goes from here. It may get darker and more dramatic and hopefully will turn around all of the negative reaction this particular episode has received.

November 10, 2010 at 9:59 PM

I also really liked the episode. But don’t credit Murphy–credit Brad Falchuk, the writer for this episode. He’s one of the 3 co-creators of the show, and in my opinion, tends to write some of the best episodes.

November 11, 2010 at 12:18 AM

I liked that they tackled such a touchy subject but I just wish they hadn’t glossed over another form of bullying: misogyny. The way Puck was trying to teach Artie how to treat women was deplorable. That line: “The thing about chicks is that you only have to be a fraction of nice to them as you were mean to them to get them back;” that was terrible. I know Brittany and Santana are supposed to be the school sluts, but that does not excuse Puck for treating them that way.

November 11, 2010 at 12:48 AM

Isn’t Puck enough of an absurd character that we know that if we’re to take any lesson from him, it is pretty much do the opposite when it comes to women?