Furt, A Very Special Episode of Glee: Straight Jocks Defend Gay Boy, Attract Hot Cheerleaders

I don’t know what people are gonna say about this episode. It was different. You know… less singing and dancing, less teenaged-romance storyline development. This episode included an almost unwatchable four-minute situation involving Jane Lynch, Carol Burnett, and a song on a stage. I remember about two of those four minutes, during which I was reminded of earlier in the evening when I thought I was dying of stomach cancer or a liver/kidney thing and went to the free clinic only to discover that we’d arrived too late to see a doctor (7:55 PM, btw). Because that pain was a similar sensation to what I felt during the aforementioned Strange Song Scene.

But I don’t really care about all that.

Why not? Because MOTHERF-CKERS THE HOMOS GOT A VERY SPECIAL EPISODE LAST NIGHT. (EPISODE 208: FURT.) I mean, it wasn’t officially called “a very special episode,” but let’s face it, it was a Very Special Episode. I don’t even know if they do Very Special Episodes anymore, was that an ’80s/90s thing? Probably all the issues have been taken care of already, like by Diff’rent Strokes (which I’ve actually never seen) and Blossom. Everyone had an abortion. Drugs were inhaled. Cars careened drunkenly into trees.

And last night — all the excess melodrama, sentiment and emotional fireworks we associate with a Very Special Episode were reserved for us. Glee saw an issue that needed to be discussed, and did a fucking ISSUE EPISODE.  You know, the kind where by the end you’re like “okay, I get it, I need to use a condom or else die of AIDS!” Our dead horse was beaten and it WAS GLORIOUS.

However, it could’ve used:

1) More singing and dancing starring the nubile teenagers we’ve tuned in to watch

2) More Brittany and Santana making out

We owned that shit. I’m intentionally using graphics I found on various tumblrs like gleekstorm and gleeky, because that’s where the children are, and this reflects their various enthusiasms.

+

The Very Special Episode of Glee – Gay Bullying Edition:

In which the following things happen, in opposition to everything we’ve come to expect from episodes about gay people– most notably, there was no room for a debate about the ethics of homophobia here. It was assumed that all the football players, Gleeks and their friends would automatically be opposed to homophobia and its manifestations.

1. After Compassionate Teacher takes Gay Boy to report bullying to Bullyish Principal after seeing Gay Boy get confronted by Bully, Gay Boy calls out Bullyish Principal for calling him “Lady” — “that’s bullying too.” Bullyish Principal apologizes.

2. Cheerleaders & Miss Perfect & Glee Kids rally together to use their feminine wiles to lure their boyfriends into protecting Gay Boy. This is a very special episode, so we can forgive them their gender roles and just roll with it, just like we will later when punches are thrown.

3. Miss Perfect tells Hunky Jock boyfriend that his decision to not rally with his friends to defend Gay Boy has made her more disappointed than she’s ever been in him. Hunky Jock’s resistance to the plot is not homophobia, it’s football team politics.

4. Four football players, one in a wheelchair, confront Bully about harassing Gay Boy, telling him that it has to stop. When the Bully fights back, Dreamy Football Player throws punches and eventually the whole thing is broken up by their Female Football Coach.

ARTIE: Stop picking on Kurt.
KAROFSKY: You mind? I’m changing.
MIKE: We’re serious. This is a warning.
KAROFSKY: Oh yeah?
ARTIE: From now on, you’re going to leave him alone.
KAROFSKY: Look, if he wants to be a homo, that’s up to him. Don’t rub it in my face.
ARTIE: We’re not asking.
MIKE: Yeah. We’re done talking about this. Just back off, alright?
KAROFSKY: You back off!

5. Following aforementioned incident, Hot Cheerleader #1 tells the Boy in the Wheelchair that his participation in The Defend the Gay Boy Project makes her “so hot” for him right now. There is indication that Dreamy Football Player’s defense of Gay Boy may actually get him a ticket into Hot Cheerleader’s pants.

6. Then Compassionate Yet Dorky Teacher walks into the room. They explain that Football Player stood up to The Bully. They explain that the boys from the football team stood up for The Gay Boy and sent a warning to The Bully. They explain that Hunky Jock did not, which Miss Perfect has already told us is the most disappointed she’s ever been in him. Everyone expresses scorn towards the Hunky Jock.

Mr. Shoeface walks over to the Gay Boy, says “Kurt, are you alright?” and puts his hand on Kurt’s knee, and Kurt says yes.

And that, I think, might be the Most Tender Homosexual Television Moment of All Time. It happens so quickly and with characters (Mr. Shoe) you’re often lukewarm towards, but it’s right there. Like a little plush toy is kissing your heart. Oh just let yourself have feelings for chrissake.

7. When Gay Boy’s Father finds out that The Bully has been threatening The Gay Boy, Dad attacks The Bully. Father then reprimands Hunky Jock AGAIN  — this is like not Finn’s day at all — for his failure to protect his New Brother.

8. Principal Expels Bully for Bullying the Gay Guy. The group departs for their lovely autumn wedding:

9. Gay Boy and Hunky Jock Do Homosexual Dance Together, the crowd cheers and has never been so happy.

10. Gay Boy leaves public school for a private academy. His parents are foregoing a vacation to fund his escape from the school that refuses to adequately protect him. He says he is going to Dalton because we want him to kiss Blaine, but actually really because of their “zero tolerance bullying policy.”

You see that? You see what they did there? That’s putting the words “zero tolerance policy on bullying” on the teenaged tongue-tips the world over. Add a little singing and dancing and I think we had ourselves a heartwarming little experience tonight.

Oh, and this is what Rachel Berry had to say about that:

And that, my friends, is what we elderwomen call a “very. special. episode.”

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2781 articles for us.

40 Comments

  1. And here I thought the 4 minutes involving Jane Lynch and Carol Burnett on stage were the best part of the episode. Everything else just seemed … off. Like, good intentions, but really questionable execution and all that.

  2. I had issues with this episode.

    1. Sue’s wedding was cringe-worthy. I laughed out of embarrassment for Sue. The whole “neglecting parent” thing was well-intentioned but really didn’t work well at all.
    2. Why is it that girls are only empowered through who their boyfriends are? Suddenly head bitch Santana is not head bitch because she’s not dating a football player.
    3. Finn decided to show his support to Kurt… after everyone thought Karofsky was gone for good. Great job Finn. Way to step up and be a good brotha.
    4. Brittany/Artie- nuff said. Please let it be, oh writers of Glee, that Brittany is just trying to make Santana jealous. Because if Brittany gets together with Artie for realz I think I’ll stop watching and that means no teevee for me since I don’t watch anything else.
    5. I get that they’re trying to make Rachel seem like a kind and compassionate character despite her egocentricity, but really she just ends up coming across as a bitch. Calling a Glee girls meeting and excluding Mercedes and Santana? Sectionals is the first thing that comes to her mind at Kurt’s announcement? I mean really Santana is supposed to be the most brutal and bitchy and even she was disgusted at that.

  3. Wow. Just…wow. I’ve got nothing. Why am I still watching this show?!
    Kurt had better not disappear, or I am done. Except that I have way too much invested in Brittana, so I’ll actually just pretend to be done but secretly still watch it. F*ck you, Glee.

  4. Anything Carol Burnett does is perfect. Just sayin’.

    Why aren’t we talking about the sexism on this show?! (Or on most of television, really.) The female characters either gain or lose power/self-worth through their relationships with men/in relationship to men. Of course, it’s great that we have the Kurt storyline; however, the representation of female sexuality is problematic (at best). Santana and Brittany are not developed to be well-rounded characters. Yes, they are cute – when they are together; however, we have two (yes, only two) types of female sexuality on this show: prude or nympho (read: slut). Quinn is perhaps the only female character who is trying to figure some middle ground or other way of being a sexual being in high school. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

    I also think that Glee has missed a great opportunity to explore female sexuality with Brittany in particular (i.e. why does she act the way she does?). A number of questions arise with her character and her sexuality that I’m fairly sure (based on what I’ve seen so far on Glee) will go unaddressed. It is obvious that the attention on this show is on Rachel & the male characters. I have my own theory as to why this is…but I’ll leave that alone for the time being.

    I hope Glee continues the focus on the gay storyline, but I’d like to see more positive attention paid to the female characters – t.v. needs that. Maybe that is asking too much….

  5. Disclaimer: This episode was the first episode of Glee I’ve seen since Mercedes broke Kurt’s windshield because she had a crush on him however many eons ago that was… What I’m trying to say is that my super enthusiastic, excited response to this episode probably has something to do with my negligence of following the actual show.

    During this episode last night, I attended a GNO (Gays’ Night Out) in my friend’s apartment with some of my closest gay girl and guy friends. The vibe of the event itself was brilliant, and the dynamics on this week’s Glee only added to the brilliance. Standing up against homophobia (generally) despite high school politics and publicly professed self love made me clap loudly periodically throughout the episode.

    I was really excited about Jane Lynch’s character’s self-marriage, especially after seeing an article about a similar phenomenon on Jezebel a few weeks ago. People can and should love themselves and I see nothing wrong with a public profession. While others may of cringed, I rejoiced with Jane’s character, even though whatever was going on with her mom was kind of weird…maybe that was because I don’t normally watch the show so I don’t really know her family situation.

    Overall, I found this episode inspiring. I also appreciated the public celebration of gay people and our rights to a safe environment! Hopefully, this episode opened peoples’ eyes to the struggle that a lot of young homosexuals have to endure on a daily basis just because of their sexual orientation. I’m probably being overly optimistic, but maybe some bullying will decrease in our public school system?

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  7. What a lousy afternoon special episode. For a show about bullying being bad they sure do bully a lot from rampant sexism, making fun of masculine women (oh look it is wrong – didn’t stop them from having comic bits about the coach first), a misogynistic pig (that would be Artie) showing that all women should want to be with a man (screw that Brittana stuff – Ryan Murphy knows one thing for sure – all men need a woman). Then we get last night which lacks one bit of subtlety and paints women and men into gender roles (bravo). This show gets worse and worse by the week.

  8. I also find it interesting that they have had multiple cheap shots (in separate episodes) of an actress who came out when she was 21. You can tell that pisses Ryan off. Don’t women know that same sex antics between women are only for laughs. Ryan Murphy – gay men important, lesbians are for ridicule. Again Bravo.

  9. I have never actually cried while watching Glee before…

    I don’t know if it had anything to do with the episode or that my self-esteem has gone down to the ground lately…

    Either or I thought it was a good episode.
    Can’t wait to see Kurt at his new school.

    And the whole Sue marrying herself thing was just hilarious.

  10. I have special issues with Glee. I appreciate much of the music, but for the most part, I think it sucks, especially with regards to development of the female characters. Most of the girls are basically nasty female stereotypes:

    Rachel – overbearing, selfish overachiever
    Mercedes – “sassy” (see “angry”) black diva
    Tina – quiet, insecure Asian girl
    Quinn – her character is possibly the least offensive, but she does come off as something of a cunning bitch if the plot calls for it
    Santana – promiscuous, bitchy Latina
    Brittany – dumb blonde
    Sue – angry, cold, “she-man”
    Emma – neurotic, dependent

    The girls’ personalities are usually developed only with regards to what’s going on with a guy (Finn or Kurt) that week. They just come on to exchange a few catty lines with each other, and leave the actual growth to the dudes (usually only the white, able-bodied dudes).

    Come ON, Autostraddle ladies! You’re all so smart and witty! Don’t you see this? The eternal defense is that Glee is a comedy/satire, and that it’s subverting stereotypes by embracing them. But is it really embracing to subvert, or just embracing?

    Or do you just take it with a grain of salt, and enjoy it for what it is?

    I would LOVE to read some actual, CRITICAL commentary on Glee and its portrayal of women, race, sexuality, etc. from you!

    • Honestly, Tina is one of the only interesting female Asian characters I see on primetime TV. The fact that they acknowledge her sexuality and her race is in and of itself already an ‘improvement’ for Asians in mainstream media.

  11. wait, did everyone miss quinn’s comment? when rachel says that they should rally their boyfriends, quinn responds “i think you just set the feminist movement back about 50 years.” i thought that line was hilarious. quinn has repeatedly made not-so-subtle feminist comments that show the absurdity of high school gender stereotypes, which i find really interesting.

    obviously this show isn’t perfect, but how many tv shows set in a high school would give a character that line? i really think that the good that glee is doing- especially the massive amount of anti-gay bullying material- FAR outweighs the bad. and the best part? they’re getting away with it. so many people are seeing this, this no-tolerance point of view. any/all of you are, of course, entitled to criticize all you want (i too would love some more brittany/santana development- they planted the seed, where is it going?!?) but in the end i am more thankful for this show than anything else currently on television. and definitely more than the united states senate. just sayin’.

  12. I would like to say that although I adore everything Glee does, ever. All of it, everything. Get my point? Zero tolerance is not the answer to bullying. Both people need help when there is a bullying sitch. Both bully and victim are suffering and zero-tolerance policies tend to pathologize the bully and leave them in their state of disrepair. Just sayiiiinnnnnn’

    • I definitely see what you’re saying about the potential for a zero-tolerance policy effectively locking out the perpetrator from the same kind of attention and resources as the victim, but from my understanding, that’s not what zero-tolerance means. I work at the Gap and we have a zero-tolerance discrimination policy, but it doesn’t mean that any bullying behavior is simply punished without proper attention being paid to the root of the problem (i.e. why the bully behaves so). What it means is that when a discriminatory incident occurs, it is recognized and stopped immediately, and not allowed to persist. Although it has come up rarely (I think maybe three or four times in my nearly six years with the company), if there is a situation, the management takes aside the party at fault and has a discussion about the problem, letting that person tell their own side of the story, and that usually takes the wind out of the bully’s sails. The bully may be written up for it, and if necessary can take leave to seek professional help, but efforts are made on the part of the management to see that EVERYONE involved feels comfortable and safe and even happy at work.

      My point is, “zero-tolerance” just means that no incident is left to escalate, and that if something DOES happen, steps are taken to ensure that it won’t happen again. That is just the policy at the Gap, though.

      Also, run-on sentences FTW!

      • I definitely see your point, and it sounds like your company handles it well. I think the problem is in the execution when we’re talking about schools. I think that many educators, specifically administration get caught up in “dealing” with everything on their massively over-loaded plates that they tend to sweep issues off of their desk as soon as possible and many students get left in the wake, possibly worse off than they were before. The intentions are certainly great, however the execution can fall flat. This is the case for both bully and victim I think. Anyways: I guess my point is that bullying is sad and mean and everyone needs help.

  13. but… but… Mercedes’ face at the end when Kurt says he’s leaving… ! Chicks before dicks Kurt… come on!

    (in other news I’m glad that such a widely viewed TV show is tackling the issue of gay bullying and yeah they’re all stereotypes yadayada but I mean, it’s Glee folks. Though: “it could’ve used: 2) More Brittany and Santana making out” = yes. Brittany needs to drop this silly Artie business…)

    also yeah Sue’s wedding was very strange I’m sorry, what? Especially because we were all totally waiting for her to marry a lady… another lady… not… herself…

  14. I get a lot of the objections to Glee but I think that actually makes the issues it tackles more real. Like all the characters are quite obviously flawed in many ways and a lot of the stories about Kurt and his homogayness take part against a very heterosexist high school background.

    I don’t think the point of Glee is to change everything so that it takes part in a great environment with wonderful people. I think its more like hey this is the screwed up world we live in and when its reflected back to you in a mirror, especially with Kurt’s little gay face in the middle, you start to see how ugly some of the things that we never question are.

    I mean even the Glee clubs reactions to Kurt and his issues are always flawed and I kind of think they’re meant to be. I like when I’m watching Glee with my Dad and its made obvious that someones accidentally acted like an asshole to Kurt. Even if the behaviour isn’t called out the fundamental message is this gay kids getting treated like shit by well meaning people and there’s something wrong with that.

  15. Loved it. Lots of Kurt, minimal Shue, which is all I ask from a Glee episode, really.

    But, the Finn/Kurt dance kind of made me cringe just ’cause . . . c’mon, you used to have a big crush on this straight dude, and now he’s your stepbrother, but he’s asking you to dance, and AGH. I’d be uncomfortable.

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