Glee Reminds Us What it Means to be a Family
Is it just me or is Kurt Hummel the new Rachel Barry? I can’t say I’m too happy about this. I know I’m the minority here, but I personally find Kurt SO ANNOYING. I mean, even his own father’s wedding inevitably turns into a friggin’ ceremony to honor television’s most overrated character. So self-absorbed.
But after watching this episode, I can really see the connection between my favorite character on the show (Rachel, obvs) and my least favorite – but hold tight, kids. I’ll get to that in a bit.
The episode began with some big news: Burt Hummel and Carol Hudson are getting married! Which of course means that Finn and Kurt will be step-brothers, even though Kurt used to harbor a massive crush on Finn (but then again, who hasn’t?) Don’t worry – it’s nothing they haven’t done on Gossip Girl.
Keeping with the whole wedding theme, the next scene features one Sue Sylvester telling us all that she too will be tying the knot. And since Sue Sylvester is absolutely matchless, she’ll be marrying herself. The shot of her sending out an invitation to “President Barack Obama?” Hilarious.
…And yet another proposal…sort of. Sam gives Quinn a promise ring, tells her he loves her, and wants to marry her someday. Yeah, it was kind of out of nowhere, but I’m on board with their relationship because Sam really does act like a real high school boy who just so happens to be smitten by a beautiful girl. He mumbles, makes bad jokes, and relies on corny clichés – but he’s sweet and sincere and his heart really is in the right place. Even after all that, jaded Quinn is only ready to offer up a “maybe.”
Weddings were an obvious theme this week, but for me, there was an even more salient connection. They say that in order to fully understand someone, you must witness that person within the context of his or her family. That proved undeniably true this week. Sue’s infamous Nazi-hunter mother made an appearance (I’m normally not a big fan of the guest star focus on Glee, but Carole Burnett was pretty epic.) I never thought Sue Sylvester would be a likable or relatable character, but the dynamic between mother and daughter was so telling. Doris’s constant criticism of Sue made me understand just how complicated this character is.
In fact, as much as I believe that there are definite parallels between Rachel’s character and Kurt’s (“I’ve planning weddings since I was two? Sounds an awful lot like something Rachel would say….after all, she did win her first dance competition when she was three months old), I think that Sue’s character can be added into this mix. Yeah, it sounds a little unbelievable, but trust me, it makes sense.
Kurt is this season’s Rachel for one simple reason: his loneliness makes him relatable and vulnerable. Last season, every viewer saw a little of him or herself in Rachel’s social pariah of a character. We’ve all had a metaphorical slushie thrown on our faces. The girl who made the quarterback of the football team fall in love isn’t nearly as interesting as that girl, and this season, it’s Kurt who manages to appeal to the outsider in all of us. The reality is, the girl who dates Mr. Popular rarely gets bullied – so the openly gay teen takes those hits.
Sue, like Rachel and Kurt has these issues. All three characters have been beat down, and they react by adopting a veneer of narcissism, bossiness, and ruthless ambition. Polarizing as they may be, these three have obviously emerged as the most definitive and memorable characters on the show, even more so than Mr. Schuester, its obvious anchor. (Side note: where was he this week?)
That’s why Rachel and Sue, despite being the show’s most self-centered characters, were the first to come to Kurt’s defense: they’ve been him. Sue’s decision to expel Karovsky was one of the most touching moments of the episode (and it was filled with them).
I also loved the moment where Kurt tells Sue ““When you call me lady, that’s bullying and it’s really hurtful.” It’s so true: people often assume that gay men are effeminate, and I’ve often begrudged Glee for making Kurt so discontent in his role as a boy – sure, some gay men feel that way, but representing a prominent gay character this way only perpetuates a stereotype. But this moment, along with the inclusion of Blaine and Karovsky’s traditionally masculine-but-gay characters, dispels this assumption.
But back to the triumvirate of massive egos – Kurt, Sue, and Rachel are undoubtedly three of the most ostracized characters on television (though Sue deflects ridicule, having perfected the art of inflicting fear on others) but they are also three of the strongest. I think this strength comes from family: from Sue and Jean’s mutual admiration of one another, to Burt Hummel’s unwavering support of his son, to Rachel’s two gay dads and their commitment to her.
The wedding itself was the culmination of the entire episode, and considering it was so impromptu and camp, it was surprisingly beautiful. I loved Finn’s toast because it was just so Finn. Here’s another character that had some great moments. Between his refusal to beat up Karovsky in Kurt’s defense to his unwillingness to be seen dancing with his to-be stepbrother at school, Finn’s discomfort is truly understandable. Does Finn’s behavior make him saintly? No. But it was certainly natural, and exactly what most high school boys have done. Not to mention, Finn totally redeemed himself by honoring Kurt at the wedding. When he sang the lines “’cause you’re amazing just the way you are”, it wasn’t really clear whether he was singing to Kurt or his mom or to Rachel, but I think that was the beauty of it. It almost makes a viewer feel like maybe – just maybe – we all are.
And I’ll grudgingly admit it – Kurt’s facial expression during this performance (the best of the night, in my opinion) were actually incredibly endearing.