Maybe it was the roll call of seniors in last week's premiere and/or Glee's recent emphasis on their post-graduation plans, but I was struck this week by:
A) What a truly unique show Glee is. Really.
B) The question of what the hell are these actors going to do when it's over. Glee is a very specific show with very specific demands, and even if it goes on to somehow involve the current senior class after graduation, the clock has started ticking. You saw what happened to Saved by the Bell: The College Years; such things just don't work out! Jesse Spano had to start stripping! Wait, breathing into a paper bag... oxygen returning to brain… okay, I'm back. Of course, it didn't help that "I Am Unicorn" seemed to be addressing these very issues, especially those having to do with Kurt.
Like, how well did this episode capture the challenges that face not only Chris Colfer, but a lot of talented gay actors? Gay men, whether they're actors or not, often know how to "pass"—unfortunately it's sometimes a survival skill they have to pick up. Beyond the complications it brings to daily life, I can only imagine how soul-crushing it must be when your career/living/hard-won celebrity is affected by your ability to appear straight, as has been the case for generations of actors. Chris Colfer's generation is hopefully the exception, and the music world is actually a little more flexible and accessible because the voice is kind of the star, but TV? Film? How many known gay actors play straight romantic leads? With the notable exceptions of How I Met Your Mother and Grey's Anatomy, I haven't seen it very often. It's kind of weird, when you think about it, that audiences HAVE TO KNOW there is AUTHENTIC SEXUAL CHEMISTRY going on between actors. Do we really need to feel like the actors could, possibly, be knockin' boots just to enjoy their performances? It's kind of voyeuristic and gross of us, the audience. Mr. Hummel's advice to Kurt was good and in keeping with Glee's tradition of being super supportive of the gay community, but also: If Kurt was the strongest option—if he was honestly the best Tony, and everyone in school knows he's gay—then why not make Maria a guy? It certainly would add a contemporary relevance to West Side Story.
Of course, then Blaine came along and blew away every version of Tony I've ever seen.
Wow. This was "kind of" a cliffhanger (WHAT IF HE AGREES TO READ FOR ANOTHER PART?! CANT STAND IT!), but Blaine had already said he was only interested in Bernardo or Officer Krupke, so if they ask him to read for something else, it'd be kind of rude, arrogant, and stupid to be like, "NOPE!" You shouldn't have to be less of who you are to keep the person you love.
But first, Brittany:
Brittany gave Kurt a speech that was written more for cleverness than for its relevance/necessity to the scene/authenticity of the character. It could've easily been ruined if Heather Morris and/or Glee's writers had overplayed or over stupid-ed it, but the moment was not only hilarious, it was believable. I was impressed! I would love to see Brittany in a movie all about her. So glad she's running for president.
In other news, Mr. Schuester has delegated direction of the school musical to Artie, Emma, and Coach Beiste. I like hanging out with these peeps, so that's cool, and West Side Story guarantees us a season of incredible music. I honestly cannot wait to see how the show frames the classic songs of West Side Story to have a whole new, poignant meaning, just as "Somewhere" did during Rachel's duet with Shelby.
Lea Michele, know this: You will never have a job this sweet again. You may work with bigger stars, you may earn bigger money, but you will never get the chance to sing a gorgeous Broadway classic with gorgeous Broadway star Idina Menzel and have it mean something completely new on NATIONAL TELEVISION.
The duet was a show-stopping moment, and the song as an anthem of longing between a mother and her daughter was especially meaningful given the angst going on between Shelby and Quinn. Tip of the hat to the writers here—having Shelby around this season is going to push the drama to its limit. Her reason for showing up at McKinley was a little weak, but who cares? It's a great game-changing move, and the more I can get of Idina Menzel singing at me, the better.
Oh, but Quinn, Quinn, Quinn. You are going to make me dye my hair pink if you aren't careful. This is a good look for Quinn, even if she is just dressing up like Rayanne from My So-Called Life. I love her as a skank, and although I was bummed when she returned to her Cameron Diaz-y look at the end of the episode, I'm very excited to see her become a baby-snatchin' villain. However: Does she have the right to renege on an adoption that happened so recently? In a legal sense, who knows, but otherwise I actually think yes. When she crumpled up while looking at a picture of her baby on the phone I cared a lot. Totally wasn't expecting to. In a show stuffed with over-the-top, Kodachrome characters, Quinn has consistently been as emotionally raw as an open wound, always ruthless and real.
And of course, even with a lot of cool stuff happening, my favorite moments of the show were the ones that let Jane Lynch speak uninterrupted. Bless you, Jane, even when all the original kids are gone I will watch you in anything you step in front of a camera for. Or behind a camera for—how fantastic are those campaign videos going to be? Hopefully very.
So, lots of big thoughts this episode! And also some big questions:
… Is it "disloyal" for Blaine to audition for/take the role of Tony, or is it bad for a relationship to limit yourself out of deference to your partner?
… Should Quinn try to get her baby back or accept that Beth is in better hands with Shelby?
… Is it kind of messed up that Shelby would start teaching at a school where both her baby momma and her own baby are students?
… Which West Side Story song are you looking forward to the most?
…Is Glee the best gig these actors will ever have, or just the start of their bright futures?