Recap: Did ‘Glee’s Take On Bullying Pull Its Punches?

'Glee's Kurt (center) weathered emotional highs and lows in the episode "Never Been Kissed" (Fox)

'Glee's Kurt (center) weathered emotional highs and lows in the episode "Never Been Kissed" (Fox)

Bravo, Chris Colfer. Bravo.

Kurt’s luminous smile at the Dalton Academy was simply everything for me in this week’s episode of Fox’s ‘Glee.’ But how did the episode measure up for you?

Click Here To Watch The Full Episode “Never Been Kissed”

It’s too bad Hogwarts is probably closer to a real school than Dalton. Wouldn’t we all love for Kurt to get to go to this place? It’s all boys, and they’re positively thrilled to sway ‘n’ snap to the tunes of the school’s a cappella group. More appealing to Kurt than the Bob Mackie-worthy uniform is the idea that no one there gets bullied for being gay.

Last night Colfer tweeted, “It’s the first episode of our bullying saga! I did lots of stunts. Still sore actually.” And he wasn’t kidding! That boy got smacked around every which way by the ginormous meathead Karofsky (played by Max Adler).

The show did a great job setting the mood of alienation and fear that Kurt has to deal with every day. Several people, including Tina and Schue, witnessed Kurt getting shoved around but did little more than offer a sheepish look. For many lonely kids today, quiet sympathy just isn’t enough. As Kurt told Schue, “This is my hill to climb alone” – but Schue didn’t have to dismiss the situation so easily. Kurt was clearly bothered by more than simply not being allowed to be on the girls’ team in the sing-off.

Alas ‘Glee’ fell short in dealing with the issue as well. It’s true that the reason some students bully gay kids is because they’re overcompensating for feelings of shame about their own sexual identity. (Lance Bass recently owned up to such behavior on ‘Larry King Live.’) But the idea that Karofsky is torturing Kurt because he’s also gay tied far too neat a bow on the story. The actors, including newbie Darren Criss as Blaine, were moving in this story arc, but it would have meant more to me if they showed that some people are bullies because, well, they’re intolerant jerks. Not all meanies are hiding their own giant secrets.

The 'Glee' gals rock on in "Never Been Kissed" (Fox)

The 'Glee' gals rock on in "Never Been Kissed" (Fox)

The storyline that ran parallel to this one was that of Coach Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones) acting as a virtual cold shower for the kids who are getting too hot ‘n’ bothered. In Santana’s world, life would be better if everyone would just put out, but several of the kids in New Directions are putting the kibosh on too much action. Quinn explained it away when she told Sam, “When we’re prom king and queen it’ll feel just as good as a little somethin’-somethin’.”

Will’s saccharin-laced speech to Beiste in the locker room teetered on the edge of oversentimentality, but it brought out a touching performance by the recently underused Jones.

Most of the girls stayed in the background in this episode, but you have to remember that the background on ‘Glee’ still comes with bedazzled costumes and hair-blowing fans. The mash-up numbers by both teams were so energetic, I seriously wondered if Terri snuck in and laced their slushees with more “Vitamin D.” The song choices were a lot of fun, especially Mercedes’ lead in the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up.”

Here’s the best of the rest:

Best musical number: The Dalton Academy Warblers’ all-vocal rendition of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” got my heart racing, no skin-tight jeans necessary. Can’t wait to see more of Blaine (preferably not via text message).

Best Sue line: No words, just a maniacal laugh as confetti rained around her in the auditorium. Runner-up: “I’m going to have to go to a wound-care center and stare at some wounds.”

Best Brittany bit: After Schue said he wasn’t tossing the baby out with the bath water: “I’ve totally done that.” OK, that was basically her only line this week. Still, it was classic.

And what needed some work:

Worst number: Puck and Artie’s version of Bob Marley’s “One Love “ was the opposite of inspirational. And where did the steel drums come from?

Creepiest (funniest?) Beiste fantasy pose: I may never be able to see a Cheerios uniform again without being reminded of Beiste uttering, “Say my name.” [Shudder.]

Most mysterious absence: Karofsky usually has an equally giant sidekick. Where was that guy?

What did you think of “Never Been Kissed”? Share your review in Comments!

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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