There doesn’t seem to be many middle of the road opinions about Tuesday’s Glee episode, “I Kissed a Girl”; most either love it, or they hate it. From what I have read, it seems to me that those with strong opinions, on either side, tend to forget this is Glee, the Fox network’s offering to multi-generational, iTunes downloaders. Sure, Santana’s coming out was rushed, but what isn’t on this show? This cast is too big for arcs to play out the way they should over 22 episodes. As it is, this week, the Irish potato can only smile and nod, and Blossom 2.0 gets to lip-synch in the background.
Ok, let’s take this thing for what it is…something. Which is more than can be said for all those other lesbian-themed story arcs out there. Wait, there are no other lesbian story arcs out there. (I know, Grey’s Anatomy fans, I hear you, but you know what I mean). SPOILER ALERT: Boardwalk Empire just sacrificed their offering, and no matter how many times you board the bandwagon in the Rizzoli & Isles pander parade, that duet just doesn’t have play. I surmise that it is no accident that Santana’s coming out is set on election day Tuesday, and just as with any hopeful foray to the ballot box, I go into it with the knowledge I will NEVER get everything I want. Right, President Obama?
I wrote last week regarding my opinions on Finn and Santana and the whole outing thing. I won’t rehash-tag that here, what I will say is that I spend a great amount of time speaking to high school students and in high schools, and when Santana elevated their war of words to a physical altercation in front of four faculty members, the zero tolerance policy kicked in. These blatantly black and white policies, blanketly administered nationwide after Columbine, are certainly fodder for another discussion, but they are what they are, they do exist, and certainly apply the moment Santana slapped Finn. Plus, let’s face it, the whole slap thing and the trip to the office is nothing more than a leverage tool for moving the storyline into the lesbian rock download portion of the episode. She either sits for the lesson (generously applied at $1.29 a pop song) or she is suspended. She is not the victim here, she is the perpetrator, and it’s as simple as that. A bigger crime is that assault on Kurt’s wardrobe. Who the hell is the stylist for this show? He goes from some rag-tag sweater a third eaten by moths, to something from vintage Hilter’s youth, to a poncho from a spaghetti western. Please, it’s distracting.
As far as the coming out criticisms go, I don’t think it is justified to myopically pull out one portion without looking at the hole. And no, this isn’t a typo, I meant it as “h”ole. This is a campy television show that arcs some of society’s gay woes, but it has never been a serious, socially political show that plans their arcs like dissertations on gender politics. Are the plot lines rushed? Yes. Are there dropped moments in the plots? Yes. Is Mr. Schuester a terrible teacher? Hell, yes. But that’s Glee…always has been, always will. For every lovely, emotional moment with a protective, yet understanding parent like Burt, there are moments of complete, one dimensional bat-shit…like Quinn. No, Katy Perry’s serenade of alcohol induced curiosity is no lesbian anthem, no more so than Melissa Etheridge or k.d. lang should be painted with a wide brush as stereotypically Sapphic. That being said, I certainly can’t deny that what Ms. Perry purrs about in I Kissed A Girl doesn’t ever happen. Being completely honest, I experienced in my single days occasional, eventful, evenings with inquisitive women who over-wine. And though, thankfully, a fabulous Cabernet doesn’t taste like cherry ChapStick, it’s a part of life, and life is good.
I have to admit that I had the unforgiving Abuelita part of the story backwards in my Mind. Maybe it was just personal experiences, but upon reading that the character’s coming out would not be as uneventful as Kurt’s, I surmised that Santana’s parents would not be accepting of the their daughter’s truth, throw her out of the house, and she would turn to her grandmother for support. Though I like the way my Mind works better, it’s not that I don’t have perspective of why the Glee creators forged the path they did. Yes, the parental acceptance was a little too quick to be true, but Brittany has been taking baths in their house for quite some time, and not the separate-tub, dysfunctional, Cialis commercial kind. Perhaps they got a clue their daughter is ducking her best friend.
I get it, one actor is cheaper than two, and in the eyes of a realist, the money for two actors would take away some of that iTunes download money, and rumor has it they are waiting for Gloria Estefan to turn the beat around. Either way, we don’t have to she-bang the “Santana is gay” drum out loud the rest of the season. Like Kurt, it is now a fact and not a flag, and I’m good with that.
Can I just add that Naya Rivera is wonderfully heart-breaking in the well-written kitchen scene with her grandmother, and I am happy to see the only Lucky Charms are in the pantry. But, I couldn’t help looking for Jessica Lange to pop out of that borrowed kitchen with a Ryan Murphy horror story of her own.
Once again, it may be personal experience, but I’m having a difficult time interpreting this episode as hero heavy instead of heroine. Sure, Finn angrily outed Santana as was established last week, but he became her ally, not once, but three times this week. I took it as Finn attempting to support Santana, not save her. Ironically, I didn’t have many female “besties” in high school. My closest friend, a male, kicked my butt more often than I can count as my mouth had a bad habit of writing checks my ass couldn’t cash, but he was also the first one standing beside me when I needed it the most. Like it or not, Finn and Santana have a connection. You never forget your first, and Finn didn’t.
I am often reminded the setting for Glee is in Ohio, the Midwest, not the more liberal edges of our fringe coasts. Though I recognize and admire the sentiment of the “it gets better” type campaigns, it doesn’t always, not really. It gets tolerable with every ally; it seems increasingly less desperate knowing someone else understands. I sat on my couch and wiped away tears as Finn sang to Santana that strangely lovely Cyndi Lauper/Eagles-ized rendition of Girls Just Want to Have Fun. You see, I had a love of my life years ago that was emotionally tortured by her family because she dared love a girl, this girl, me. She could have used a hero of any combination DNA to say, “Just hold on.” Too late…my earthly angel became a celestial Angel and never saw the joys of life beyond the parental-imposed pain of 21.
On another musical note, this is Glee, so of course there are at least two or three other story arcs playing simultaneously. How wonderful is Dot-Marie Jones and her performance of Dolly Parton’s Jolene? Juxtaposed against the emotional, sexual, angst of teenagers, Beiste reveals that with maturity, and again, with a little encouragement from friends, comes clarity. The coach exhibits the determined strength and fortitude of a female with fight…maybe that, too, comes with maturity. I don’t think it is a stretch to say only on Glee could two “sporty-type” females play the angles of a love triangle for the affections of a male Cooter. Even the Shelby-Puck tryst serves more than a predatory purpose in this episode. It moves Idina Menzel quickly off the landscape and back to Broadway. Kissing this school-girl is certainly a gray area, but Puck has long been established as cougar meat. I don’t really see him as coming to her rescue her as much as she uses him. He is 18 and available; she is lonely, limited, and a little wicked. And what example as a teacher should Shelby follow, Mister Schue?
Glee’s “I Kissed a Girl” episode is certainly up to personal interpretation jaded by our own personal experiences. Though it has its problems of script, character development, and consistency, I just can’t see any conspiracy theories of under-the-thumb male savior complex keeping the women down. The Fox offering is a mile wide in its reach, but an inch deep in its message. Let’s face it, Glee just wants to have fun and in the meantime throw a directive or two against the wall. If anything sticks, let’s pull the piano player out of our back pockets and sing about it..and perhaps nudge a kinder, more informed generation as an accompaniment.