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?