When Glee does it right, Glee can be amazing.
Yes, I never thought I would ever write those words again, but ‘Jagged Little Tapestry’, the third instalment in this reduced season, felt old-school – and for all the right reasons. This is how Glee should be. It was touching, hilarious, and shone the spotlight on (most) of the characters we’ve come to know and love.
The episode is named for its mash-up of Alanis Morissette and Carol King songs. Three main stories proceeded this episode, the first of which revolved around Becky Jackson. The intervention scene between her new bae Darrell, Sue, Roz, Quinn and Tina was one of the best scenes this show has done in a long time. Yes, Becky is just as normal as the rest of the characters in Glee. In that she’s not normal at all – they’re all caricatures of what they once were. No character in Glee is normal, but rather they are grossly over-the-top, and I guess that’s why Glee still holds a place in my heart.
Darrell likes Becky for who she is – and that’s exactly as it should be. He sees beyond her disability, which is positive because it puts them on an even footing and is a more positive representation of disability than we’re used to. But here’s my problem: Becky, as a character, is simply deplorable. She started as a meek character with little confidence, but Ryan Murphy made her into a miniaturised form of Sue, and it completely ruined her.
Yes, she is still quite funny (especially her countless ‘bitch’ remarks), but Murphy’s determination to turn his characters into parodies of themselves has made her despicable. She is downright horrible to Quinn and Tina, even though they have (bizarrely) decided to stick around for another week and help her with her boy troubles. It’s not just this, because Becky is like this with every character bar Sue. It’s too late to redeem her, but at least we’ll always have season one and two Becky, I guess…
The second main story revolved around Brittany and Santana, and Kurt’s bitter tirade aside, it was beautiful. Kurt was probably right – they ARE too young, but this IS Glee after all. I just want everybody to be happy, ultimately, and Kurt is going to be eating his words in a few weeks when he inevitably reunites with Blaine. Speaking of whom – I just cannot believe that he and Karofsky are a couple. They just don’t fit. Murphy has ruined Karofsky here – seasons one to three he was brilliant.
The bedroom scene between Britanna was beautiful, as was Santana proposing to Brittany. Glee may have messed up with Santana’s coming out, but the characterisation of her relationship with Brittany has been pretty much spot-on throughout the six seasons, so I for one am happy they’re engaged. Tina is right – they are perfect together. And can I just say – how BRILLIANT was Santana’s rant at Kurt? Pure comedy gold. Classic Glee right here.
And then we reach the third main tapestry of ‘Jagged Little Tapestry’ – Coach Beiste’s uncharacteristic behaviour, which results in their friends becoming concerned about them. After lying that they have a bad knee and later cancer (yeah, that one was a bit below the belt, Glee), Shannon beautifully comes out to Sam and Sue as transgender, and affirms their plans to transition from a woman to a man. (I’ve used the gender-neutral pronoun until now, but will go forward with male pronouns, since Shannon identifies as male, even if he hasn’t opted for another name yet within the timeline of the show.)
This scene was, beyond a doubt, Glee’s finest in a long time. Beiste is a beloved character and his decision may be coming out of the blue to some fans, but if you think back to his story thus far it is entirely within character. Shannon has had (I think it’s fair to say) a tortured narrative, what with his disastrous marriage to Cooter and his subsequent abuse at his hands. Shannon has little confidence in his body, showcased in season two’s ‘Never Been Kissed’. I personally feel as though Beiste’s admission is entirely believable within the narrative.
And this specific representation of the trans narrative is groundbreaking. It’s the first example of a female-to-male transition in a mainstream American television show, and whilst Glee’s viewership may have diminished drastically, this storyline will still help to highlight perhaps the last untold subject on the LGBT+ spectrum. I sincerely hope so anyway.
With only ten episodes left, I do feel like this storyline may have been better introduced last season, so I can only hope that the remaining episodes give it the justice it deserves. Dot-Marie Jones is just brilliant, so if anyone can play this right it’s her. Beiste will reportedly vanish for the next two episodes, and return in episode six under the new name of Sheldon (the character himself hasn’t yet asked to be called by this name, so this is something of a minor spoiler). Episode seven, titled ‘Transition’, will presumably shed more light upon his latest story.
And all of a sudden I am excited by Glee once more. Its representation of LGBT+ subjects has been, for the most part, pretty brilliant. Kurt’s coming out and subsequent bullying, Finn’s declaration of acceptance after foolishly labelling him a ‘faggot’, and his romance with Blaine has all been brilliantly done. As has Santana’s relationship with Brittany (though I do feel like Santana’s coming out didn’t match the levels of Kurt’s). Karofsky’s suicide attempt was given justice too. The only problem with Glee, for me, is the character of Unique. Her transgender storyline was, for the most part, played for the laughs as she was ridiculed by her peers. Hopefully, with this second stab at it, Glee will prove me wrong. Unique will return later this season, so I have a feeling she’ll help Beiste, and vice versa.
Perhaps I was wrong, last week. Perhaps Glee will go out on a high. I have everything crossed.