Tuesday night’s episode of Glee “Never Been Kissed” is the best of the series’ run thus far, cementing the show in Television History for its willingness to tackle tough and controversial issues that teens face on a daily basis.
Week after week, Glee is proving that it’s more than just a show about kids doing a bunch of mash-ups of their favorite pop artists. It’s about the people who are considered “different” (geeks, losers, delinquents) coming together to form community and share their exceptional voice(s) and gifts in a school and world full of Sue Sylvesters who believe that life is all about winning, no matter who it hurts. Glee is about youth (and adults) who are struggling to be recognized and respected as unique and beloved human beings. Glee is about expressing one’s self and making a loving impact in the lives of others regardless of the risks and sacrifices. Glee is about learning how to shine and “make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” (author Marianne Williamson).
The character who struggles the most with acceptance is gay student and Glee club member Kurt Hummel (brilliantly and passionately played by actor Curt Colfer who knows what it’s like to be bullied). Despite the relentless taunts and bullying he receives from members of the football team or being ostracized by other students and teachers for his interests in fashion and Broadway musicals, Kurt stands tall. He refuses to change who he is as a gay young man or stop being a trustworthy friend to his classmates in glee club (like Mercedes) or a devoted son to his accepting garage-mechanic father. But the bullying does take its toll on the character as many of the show’s fans learned in the recent episode, the preview of which can be viewed here:
The clip insinuates that the other members of the glee club are bullying Kurt when actually it’s a menacing football player and glee club-hater who continues to slam the teen into his locker. Glee club teacher William Shue’s reprimanding of Sam and the other male glee members was part of a second story-line that looked at bullying and prejudice from another angle. The focus there was on how the guys’ used the image of manly-looking Coach Shannon Beiste (played beautifully by Dot-Marie Jones) to help them “cool-down” while making out with their girlfriends, and how they’re distorted view ultimately hurts and humiliates the coach.
In the end, the Glee kids learned the importance and value of courage…of standing up for what is right in the midst of hatred, violence and deep suffering. My hope is that we in the church can continue to learn it too. For the lives of our young people, we better.