Glee Episode 206: Never Been Kissed But Often Been Assaulted by Anti-Gay Bullies

Glee Episode 206, “Never Been Kissed,” was monumentally homosexual, and we’re saying this about a show that put on a performance of Rocky Horror two weeks ago for no apparent reason and regularly features boys with Justin Bieber haircuts dancing to mashed-up 90s pop hits.

More importantly: Glee Episode 206 did not feature anyone quitting/getting kicked out of/considering quitting Glee Club/Cheerios/Football. Instead, Glee got complicated, dealt with some heavy issues and doled out some tired gender stereotypes in an otherwise enlightened episode.

i. Everyone Wants To Get Some!

Firstly, this episode reminded the People of America that it’s not just adolescent boys who have sex on the brain! The pulse of sexual desire does not burn solely in the loins of Finn or Puck…

Other People Who Want Action:

And, also, clearly, as we already knew, these girls:

+

ii. Kurt Tackles Gay Bullying

This is the week that Kurt gets slammed into a locker one time too many and begins to notice that as an actual human person, he deserves a clear walkway down the hallway of his high school without being physically assaulted. 99% of GLBTQ students feel the same way, we imagine. Bullying is obvs a really timely storyline, and between Kurt & Bieste, Glee is tackled this from several angles last night.

Early in the episode, after locker slam #45, 678, Will asks Kurt if there’s anything he can do to help Kurt’s shitty daily existence:

Will: Is there anything I can do?

Kurt: No, this is my hill to climb alone.

Will: Can I be honest? I think this stuff is getting to you.Usually this stuff kinda rolls off your back. But lately you’ve been beligerant, angry, pushing people away —

Kurt: Can I be honest with you? You, like everyone else at this school, are too quick to let homophobia slide.

Kurt’s big ray of sunshine/teachable moment for the episode comes when he heads over to the all boys school to check out The Warblers, aka the competition for their upcoming sectional/regional/national/whatevertional competition. The Warblers are an acapella group from The Magical School for Bright-Faced Boys/ Dalton.

More importantly, we meet BLAINE.

Please note that the children are galavanting down the hallway like two princes in a godd*amn Taylor Swift music video.

+

You know those kids who always act like they’re in a musical and are making facial expressions exaggerated enough for the entire auditorium to witness their joy/despair even though they’re right up in your face and you already know how they feel? That’s this guy. Love Blaine. Also the actor is a University of Michigan alum, which gets him bonus points around here.

SIDENOTE: Can I take a minute to appreciate The Warblers covering Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream? Admit it, you love that song because it’s damn catchy, but you hate it because you feel guilty for liking Katy Perry. What better way to fix that situation than to have a bunch of guys sing it a capella with gay overtones?

Blaine instantly understands Kurt’s true mission at Magicpants Academy and also true self. Instead of being pissed at Kurt for posing as a new student to spy on the group, he brings Kurt into the Library of Ages for a little heart-to-heart about gayness in high school.

Blaine says that he ran away from his bullies and found acceptance at a progressive boys’ school. But, that option isn’t possible for everyone ’cause it’s super expensive. So even though it can suck to be a gay in public school, it’s also an opportunity to CHANGE THE WORLD!

Does this remind anyone of the critiques of It Gets Better? This is a really complicated message for a sitcom to be discussing, but it’s something that needs to be said. Yeah, you can move to San Francisco or Manhattan and find plenty of people just like you and never get bullied again. Or instead of waiting for it to get better, you can work on making things better right where you are.

Kurt takes Blaine’s words to heart and talk back to his bully.  It goes about as you’d expect, with some intimidation and an even harder push into the lockers. But Blaine, the sweetheart, knows just what to tell Kurt: “courage.” (Via text message, it’s cute).

BULLY: Do not push me, Hummel.

KURT: You gonna hit me? Do it.

BULLY: Don’t push me!

KURT: Hit me, because it’s not going to change who I am. You can’t punch the gay out of me any more than I can punch the ignoramus out of you.

BULLY: Get out of my face!

KURT: You are nothing but a scared little boy who can’t handle how extraordinarily ordinary you are!

Then the bully frantically grabs Kurt’s face and kisses him. You may remember this twist from Queer as Folk and it’s a gigantic nod to the fact that anyone who loathes homosexuals that much is probably a homosexual.

Later, the football dude predictably shrugs off Blaine & Kurt’s attempts to get him to talk about it. And then… Kurt explains he had never been kissed before the bully kissed him, which’s sad. And although part of me wanted Blaine to immediately make out with Kurt, I’m glad they’re dragging it out. Then it will be WORTH IT.

Check out this interview Glee creator Ryan Murphy, who says the bully character was based on a guy he used to know.

iii. The Rest:

We witnessed several of Will’s patented Terrible Decisions (telling Beiste what all the kids are whispering about) and Bizarre Boundary-Breaking Displays of Empathy (giving Beiste her first kiss, which we pray to gay Jesus will not lead to an obsessive crush as these things often do).

Puck made his triumphant return from juvie (aka being punished by the show for contract violations), where he lifted weights. He’s decided to care for Artie as his community service, which involves pushing his wheelchair around, performing Bob Marley to a courtyard of (probably) not-stoned children to make bank, schooling Artie in How to be an Asshole and encouraging him to dine/dash at Breadstix.  It’d be funny if the Asshole Plan backfired but it doesn’t, ’cause Brittany and Santana instantly fall for it.

Unfortunately Artie isn’t enough community service to get Puck out of trash-on-the-side-of-the-road duty.  In the end he and Artie strike up a deal where Puck does trash duty and Artie tutors him in geometry. I’m not sure how that deal even works because it doesn’t seem like anyone benefits, but whatever, it’s television.

Like any good musical, all wounds are healed by a bit of song and dance at the end of the day. The boys perform their mashup and dedicate it to Coach Bieste. It was weird.

Am I forgetting anything? OH YEAH! This!

Thoughts/feelings? Also, check out the tumblrs that make some of these pictures possible: Gleekstorm & Gleeky.

Sarah lives in Chicago with her partner and her big white Great Dane. She is a lawyer by day and a beer brewer/bread baker/knitter by night. She & her partner are currently learning how to grow their own food, and eventually they hope to move to a small farm outside the city. In 2009-2010, before jetting off to law school, Sarah was Autostraddle's Managing Editor.

Sarah has written 131 articles for us.

34 Comments

  1. I’m still thinking about this episode, like I’m kind of ignoring all the dumb storylines and general character stupidity and focusing on how much I loved everything related to Kurt. For someone who was very closeted in high school, I somehow feel I have a lot in common with him. Love Chris Colfer, fell in love with Darren Criss pretty much instantly, and felt bad for the bully. So much love for this episode, because in my mind it was The Kurt Show and therefore perfect.

  2. I love Glee and Kurt and hot girls singing, but they way they handle some of these social issues is sooo awkward. I cant watch it with my mother anymore. The coach Beiste thing was embarrassing and the Glee Guys are just stupid/ridiculous. I can only handle so much premature ejaculation storylines.
    But the episode definitely redeemed itself with Kurt. His dramatic scenes (like the bully fight/kiss) are like candy to me, and Chris Colfer, as usual, is flawless.

  3. It’s just…I mean…I can’t. Gaah!
    I SO saw the whole ‘the homophobic jerkface is actually gay’ thing coming, and then it actually happened and I was immediately like, “Shit! That was his first real kiss. That SUCKS!” Your first kiss should be something you can look back on and not cry. I’m not a good example of that, but maybe that’s why it got to me so much. THat and his reaction made me want to cry. Chris Colfer may actually be the best actor EVER. I majorly heart him.
    And BTW, anyone else LOVING Kurt’s steampunk bowtie?

  4. While Mr. Schue kissing Beist was incredibly condescending (thank goodness the attractive man took pity and saved her from her self-hatred), I was almost more disappointed by the degrading of female masculinity. Beist comments that she is masculine, but isn’t gay, as if that assumption is inherently bad. This line of thought is immediately followed by her wanting to be reminded of ‘being a girl’ sometimes by receiving sexualized attention from males. From this I understand that to be a ‘real girl’ is to be thought of as beautiful and heterosexual, which will manifest in male attention.

    That is a fine way to want your gender to play out, I suppose, if you want your self-confidence to be dependent on someone else finding you attractive. It completely devalues not only masculine and heterosexual women, but also masculine and homosexual women (and anything in between). Basically, a rejection of masculine females, because they are not ‘real girls’. I would rather see Glee take the opportunity to support the disconnect between masculine/feminine and male/female.

    But, as Kurt points out, teachers, students, etc. are too quick to write off homophobia. And it is clear that gender norms are incredibly supported in this show. Homophobia comes from these stark dichotomies of masculinity and femininity connecting to assigned sex.

    As another note, I was insulted by the choice to make Tina chaste, too. Not Tina in general, but the decision to make all “wholesome, smart, good” girls chaste while the “rude, cheerleader, or dumb” girls were the only ones left promiscuous (minus Quinn who is coming back from her pregnancy experience wizened and therefore chaste). This gives an interesting connection between moralistic and chaste and immoral an unchaste. Where is the in-between?

    • I agree with pretty much everything you just said. The masculine woman can’t be a girl part pissed me off. The whole show gets women’s sexuality in general so wrong. And this is why I have to turn my brain off when I watch this show. Otherwise I think I’d have a headache. It’s like, completely disengaged or I wouldn’t be able to watch.

      Except this episode surprised me a bit with the way it handled Kurt and homophobia. If the show had been all about that I would have really enjoyed it. If only they had left out the weird Schue kissing Beist scene and creepy Beist equaling a cold shower storyline it would have been a near perfect episode.

    • I wrote that first comment before I made an account, but now I have one! Also, @InTheJunkDrawer, are you saying that you were surprised in a good way? What was surprising about it? I was a little concerned about the message that it’s all up to the queer individual to fight back, alone. Of course we were meant to fear him getting hurt so the kiss was surprising and welcome, even (although still an assault). It’s an interesting juxtaposition of physical and sexual assault. I worry about sending the ‘get the bully alone and taunt him’ message though, since people really do get hurt. Of course, courage is good! It’s a fine line to walk. Ideally, of course, teachers would actually step in but I know this is a difficult and often-ignored issue.

      • I guess surprised because for once the show (just the Kurt storyline) felt realistic. Except for the whole fairy tale choir scene with the cute boy singing to Kurt, but that was just adorable. The show needs more of that.

        I don’t think that gay kids should be taught that they have to rely on themselves to get through those tough situations, but I felt it was important that they addressed what’s obviously happening in schools, that few people are actually helping gay kids who are struggling. Plus they showed that he was really being affected by it and that it’s a serious issue. And then pointing out that the biggest homophobes tend to be gay themselves, I liked that they did that. As sad/twisted as that kiss between the football jock and Kurt was, it felt very real and that’s what the show has been lacking since the beginning, reality.

        • I’m thinking now about the manifestation of courage. Kurt kept receiving texts of ‘courage’ from Blaine, and this is what encouraged him to corner his bully and ‘school’ him on homophobia. I’m interested in this assertion that courage must play out like this. Can’t courage mean other actions, too? I don’t want kids who go for outside help to feel that they aren’t being courageous enough.

          • I didn’t really read it as that. I don’t think that the message is that it’s up to the queer kid to fight ALONE, but with courage and support from others. He got Blaine to come talk to the bully, and the only way he is able to stand up to him is through Blaine’s support. Obviously it’s not possible or safe for all people to act as Kurt does, but for people who have the ability to (again, not all people do or can!), it can present them with agency and power. As Blaine pointed out, leaving for a very expensive safe space isn’t an option for everyone, so I think it’s important to tell kids in this situation that they aren’t powerless. Even if they can’t stand up to someone themselves, maybe that knowledge will help.

            I’m not saying that Glee handled the situation perfectly, but I think that it can be seen as empowering and normalizing for many people. At least I hope so. It’s kind of the way I feel about It Gets Better- while it’s obviously not going to fix the world, if it can do a little bit of good or let someone know they’re not alone, I think it’s worth doing.

    • Thank you for writing everything you did here. I found the episode’s response to female masculinity really troubling and hoped that other people would bring it up.

      Also, yes, the thing with Kurt being told he has to fight back alone was like, ugh.

      Dunno. I’m glad that Glee raises these issues, I guess–I mean, how many other mainstream TV shows are even talking about these things–but I really really wish it handled them better.

      • TOTALLY agree. While a lot of people in HS *can’t* reach out to teachers and other non-gay folks for support, this ep made it look like it was totally Kurt’s problem – something that’s purely a gay issue, and it’s fine for the straight folks to ignore it completely. (And while making the bully gay makes some sense, it def. feeds into this ‘not our problem’ narrative.)

        While I’m all about having space within the queer community to address these issues, and some of the straight involvement in ‘it gets better’ feels a bit opportunistic and weird, homophobic bullying is NOT just our problem.

        And just god yes to the comments above re: the pity kiss/ butch is bad storyline. Ugh.

  5. Then the bully frantically grabs Kurt’s face and kisses him. You may remember this twist from Queer as Folk

    Can someone refresh my memory here? This bully actually kinda reminded me of Larry from Buffy, except Kurt’s bully hasn’t (yet!) been eaten by a giant snake demon/mayor.

  6. This was the first episode this season that I really enjoyed. Even the Rocky Horror episode was a touch lackluster for me. I think it’s because I was just saying a couple weeks ago that I wish Glee would actually address the bullying that Kurt/all the Glee kids get all the time instead of showing them be really violently abused.

    I kind -hate- Shue more and more because how is he that dumb? But whatever, Blaine is ~so cute and I really liked the boy’s mash-up.

  7. Also, Santana, the closet’s for your Cheerios uniforms. Nothing else, honey.

    ^
    This. Or I have no other way of explaining how your personality managed to completely change over the course of a single week. An eyelash batting Santana? For real? FOR REAL????

  8. I really, really liked the Kurt-related aspects of this episode. He and Blaine being adorable actually pushed me to come out as a girl over Facebook, which is exciting/terrifying. Also the music was awesome.

  9. I have surprisingly never seen Glee, knowing it’s the gayest thing on primetime TV./ashamed.
    The addition of Darren Criss, (as Kurts love interest no less!) will likely change this.

  10. Kurt + Blaine = CUTE! and IT’S ABOUT TIME!

    The homophobic bully: Totally called it!

    Beiste and Will?: Oh dear jebus, please let that be it. She’s nice and all but just… no, it would so not be right.

    Will can just be so silly at times 😛

    As for the mash-ups: I honestly didn’t care for them and thought they were the worst part of the show.

    And Sue?: You can never have enough Sue 🙂

  11. I didn’t like the implication from the show that girls don’t like classic rock, as that was one of my big obsessions of high school.

    I like Autostraddle’s stance on the “stand up for yourself!” message. I’ve heard from some people who thought it said that “gay kids are weak for running from bullying,” which is not the message I got. But on an individual level, my response to the gay bullying is often the same as my response to being urged to vote in elections: I’ll do what I can, but how much can I do from the vantage point of a left-wing liberal East Coast city, in a neighborhood full of gay bars and pride parades, in a music school full of openly LGBT students and where open harassment is clearly condemned/punished and therefore rare? And knowing who I was in high school, hearing that it would get better when I got to college and got out of Oakland County, MI wouldn’t have helped me to feel better about bullying. I knew that it would get better; that didn’t mean it wasn’t still awful to endure. Hearing how things will be 3-5 years down the road doesn’t help when you’re just trying to make it through the day.

    I don’t think that we have any obligation to put up with crap from homophobes in the interest of making things better for fellow queers. I don’t think that getting out makes you “weak.” But I do think the “It Gets Better” message has its limits, and if you’re a 15-year-old being pushed around in school because you’re openly gay, you’d rather hear advice for what to do in the hear-and-now than just being told to hold on until you’re older. I like that Glee addresses that.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.