Glee "Bash" Review: Once You Are Real

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Apr 09, 2014

Glee S05E15: "Bash"

There's something kind of icky about Glee using violence against a gay character to push a straight black character—one who has some complicated-yet-understandable reasons for distancing herself from her straight white boyfriend—into taking her albino boyfriend back, but kudos to Glee for Grown-Ups for at least acknowledging that the problems its characters face in New York are much more multifaceted than the ones they faced in Ohio. The stakes are higher; the wise, trusted teacher isn't there to point them in the right direction, and the right direction isn't as obvious anymore. Still, the fact that a storyline as serious as a gay-bashing was relegated to B or C status in favor of yet another Rachel-is-too-precious-for-this-world plot and ample focus on Mercedes and Sam's messed-up, star-crossed heteromance, especially considering that this episode was blatantly named "Bash" and that Kurt's beating dominated the promo. It was almost a "bury your gays" situation except that Kurt got to live. 

Prior to his attack, Kurt attended a candlelight vigil for another friend who had been hurt by total strangers during a startling increase in the number of crimes committed against gay people in New York City—a trend that is actually totally for real happening. I know. WTF. Papa Hummel showed up to voice his own disbelief with regard to the reality of hate crimes being committed in NYC. Kurt was supposed to be safer in the vastly diverse city, the home of Broadway and Stonewall and fashion week. It was supposed to be his escape, his chance to be himself, real and unfettered by bigotry. It's a sentiment held by so many individuals who grow up feeling stifled in small towns full of narrow minds, and Kurt's experience was an extreme mirror of what often happens once those free spirits and other sundry weirdos make it to their sanctuary: It's not perfect. Problems don't just disappear. Even New York City has its share of bigots, hate-mongers, and other flavors of douchebag. It's just a place, and places only mean what we want them to.

That sentiment was also apparent in this week's episode of The Rachel Show, when we saw her once-fanatical devotion to NYADA wither as soon as Carmen Tibideaux failed to properly bow alongside the rest of the little people in Rachel's life. At one time, Rachel wanted nothing more than to attend NYADA. It was the most important goal in her life. It was a stepping stone on the way to greatness—like, a HUGE stepping stone on the way to greatness. She was devastated when she initially didn't get in, but times and circumstances have changed—as has the meaning of NYADA for Rachel. Once she was cast in Funny Girl, NYADA's stature was overshadowed. First it shrank to a small stepping stone, and then barely a stone at all. 

Rachel doesn't need NYADA for Funny Girl, and truthfully, she may never need NYADA. Kurt made a good case for the school and a college education, but the current reality of Rachel's situation is that NYADA isn't what she thought it would be, it doesn't fill the need she thought it would fill, and while at one time she would've happily sold he soul to get in, she's now equally as eager to GTFO. Situations change. 

Which brings us to Mercedes and Sam. In their case, situations changed very quickly, and in the span of one episode, they went from "never dating again" to "broken up for questionable career reasons" to "back together forever." Mercedes thought that her budding musical career would give her limitless freedom to explore her art and her interests and to live life to the fullest degree... only to learn that she may or may not be restrained by a different set of standards. Her back-up singers warned her that dating a white guy sent an odd message to her black fans, that it could alienate many of them. Her professional life conflicted with her personal life, and for now, Mercedes has seemingly opted to tend to the personal side of things, but this is a conflict that will repeat itself time and again, in one form or another, for as long as Mercedes finds herself out in the workforce. 

There was a lot of chatter from a lot of people in "Bash" about the kids from Lima, Ohio becoming real adults now, with real adult problems and real adult responses to those problems. In earlier episodes, I would've accused Glee of trying too hard to push the point, because Glee always tries too hard at not trying too hard and that's half the problem with Glee"Bash" was a surprisingly mediocre episode after a string of refreshingly good ones, falling into some of Glee's old exploitative-ish patterns of relegating actual big storylines to the back burner for the sake of RACHEL OMG RACHEL SO PERF, but the fact is, the shift to New York has ushered in a growth spurt for the former perpetual high-schoolers, and a healthy dose of harsh reality for a series that routinely rejects it because reasons. And you know what they say about reality: "Once you are Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." 


– Playlist ranking blah blah: Everything Amber Riley sang was perfection. 

– Sam: "It's really hard for a straight white man these days." Blaine: "We should probably change the subject."

– Rachel called Tibideaux a failure. Classy. 

– "Whoever wrote this fan-fiction really sucks." "Actually, George Lucas wrote this one." Admit it, you peed a little. 

– Countdown to Funny Girl never opening for some reason, forcing Rachel to go back to NYADA and grovel for her place in class? 

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  • irehawk20 Apr 15, 2014

    Final question that needs to be answered: We know that Corey Montieth has both family and drug problems throughout his life before he died, but does anybody he think that he was badly overlooked and turned down from the entire public and ended up in a tight rehab for showing both POOR and ERRATIC love technique at the SAME time?

  • ark1317 Apr 13, 2014

    I actually never understood why Kurt never got attacked in high school, god knows teen agers can be hateful and violent. I really liked his part of the episode, it gives his gay storyline some realness.

    Considering that Rachel didn't even know NYADA existed, it's no wonder that now it's not enough for her. I really hope that she ends up failing, you can't just think that Carmen is a nobody who doesn't know what she's talking about. I hope the realness gets her too, but it's Glee, so...

    I don't really care about Samcedes, Sam's like a robot just trowing himself at the first single lady he finds, except Rachel, because she is to be a widow forever.

    In general, I like the NY turn, Glee in its adult form is kinda refreshing.

  • lala1123 Apr 13, 2014

    RE: Kurt never getting attacked in HS... remember Karofsky?

  • ark1317 Apr 13, 2014

    I meant being physically injured. They spent a lot of time saying how much bullying he went through, without actually making it real IMO

  • usagicassidy Apr 13, 2014

    Hey now, don't just SKIP all the Sondheim on the playlist rankings! Even though some of the numbers fell flat (I get where they were going with "Im Still Here", but the song just DOESN'T work for someone so young, and at some point you have to let go of "singing" it and just be it.) for me the highlight of the episode was "No One Is Alone". Just beautiful.

  • ark1317 Apr 13, 2014

    No one is alone was beautiful and emotional *.*
    I agree that I'm still here wasn't convincing, but I feel that way for almost every number from Kurt..

  • irehawk20 Apr 12, 2014

    This episode needs to be re-analyzed by getting it repeated during this Summer 2014!

  • uchi_1981 Apr 12, 2014

    the recaps should not be this subjective. mary ann sleasman's hate for rachel makes the whole recap completely unprofessional. you can lose your objectivity maybe for your blog, but not for

  • ark1317 Apr 13, 2014

    C'mon, every writer here isn't capable of being completely objective! And can you really say she isn't right about Rachel? I actually think the analysis was pretty objective, and then followed her negative comment.

  • uchi_1981 Apr 16, 2014

    I'm not saying I would like her to be "completely" objective, somewhat objective at least, would be nice. She is totally biased against Rachel. And yes, I can definitely say she is not right about Rachel, and if you see the comments you will see that I am not the only one who thinks this way.

  • ark1317 Apr 16, 2014

    I know there are people pro Rachel, but I still think that the analysis wasn't biased. I guess that's how opinions work

  • MichelleHood24 Apr 11, 2014

    I liked this episode but for me it just centred to much around Rachel but what ever, Mercedes's performances of natural woman, and colorblind were outstanding. I haven't watched in a while, where the hell is Santana? I missed her presence and brilliant voice in this episode.

  • vcivi Apr 11, 2014

    I really liked this you said in the review..they have to become more mature now and have to deal with real life stuff, then stay save in the class, with all your friends and sing happy songs to feel better.

    First Rachel: I know that some people think that she has a attitude ( which sometimes she really has)...but hey...she is good and we all know it.
    Like it is said in the review, sometimes things change. You think you want something very badly, but when you have it, it is not what you expected from it and don't forget, she hadn't had a easy time at NYADA, with her crazy teacher..So i felt a bit of proud when she went against Whoopi and told her that she didn't need NYADA...good for her!

    Then Sam: I am sorry, but that boy is really annoying and has no goal at all. Why the hell is he actually there?? He has no place to stay, no work, no girlfriend..he makes one mistake after the next.
    Like meeting the girlfriends of Mercedes. What the hell was that? I would be so embarrased, if my boyfriend would act like that by a first meeting with my friends...

    Mercedes: Loved every song she sang. Was a bit worried about the storyline about being a Black singer and dating a white guy. That it would affect her carreer...i think that is a whole lot of crap. Her carreer should not be defined by who she dates, but by her i was glad that she song Colorblind song for Sam...that was a very wise song. Really hope she finds her way in NY.

    Blaine: Was a bit in the background this episode...ofcourse you saw him, but not that much...

    Kurt: Was so brave. I am gay myself and i guess if i saw another person being hit because of the sexuality, i would help out too, with all risks...
    Nobody should live in fear because of what they are...that is crazy. We all live ones and we all have to live together on this planet..why can't we not let every one just be and live happily....sometimes i dn't get people..really!
    But i liked that they brought up that subject, as most people don't realize how many times this kind of thing happens to someone on a daily is sickening!!

    I really like where Glee is going the rest of the season and again like last week, i didn't miss the rest of the glee club back in Ohio at all. The only person i miss, is Sue Sylvester...she was awesome..Good job Glee!!

  • HudsonThoT Apr 11, 2014

    ""Bash" was a surprisingly mediocre episode after a string of refreshingly good ones"
    I would say the opposite, after a string of mediocre/dull episode, this one was refreshingly good! I really liked the dynamic of the group in NYC (and great direction by Bradley Buecker, specially the frames when they all receive the call about Kurt).

    And I agree the bashing would have deserved to be a A plot but Glee already brought that topic out several times so it didn't bother me to be a B plot.

  • ark1317 Apr 13, 2014

    The sequence of the phone calls gave me chills, so good!

  • snyx23 Apr 11, 2014

    Did anyone notice that Blaine tried to give Kurt a kiss at the end of Kurt's "Im still here" performance ?

  • irehawk20 Apr 10, 2014

    Yeah this episode was out-of-control and it needs to be repeated during this summer of 2014.

    I have a question right now and it has to be answered right away:

    Does anybody think that the New Directions was badly overlooked?

  • jajsmiles Apr 11, 2014

    Badly overlooked by whom or what?

  • irehawk20 Apr 12, 2014

    Sue Sylvester on the New Directions and then, of course, overall, the strict TV critics watching this show?

  • irehawk20 Apr 11, 2014

    This comment has been removed.

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