'Glee': Defying gravity with heart and soul
You hear that?
If you keep up with all things "Glee," and you do, then you know this week was a big episode, and with all such episodes comes controversy. And those who know me well know I love me a good controversy.
The episode, simply titled "Wheels," finally addressed Artie's (brilliantly played by Kevin McHale) challenge of living life in a wheelchair. But of course we know in Hollywood that nothing you do is correct.
I was very disheartened to see Advocates for the Disabled in an uproar about the episode. Here we have an episode bluntly addressing the complexities of disability and doing so with so much respect and dignity, and there are complaints about Artie not being wheelchair-bound in real life? Cooooome on, guys.
Must we always reach so far in Hollywood?
Acting is acting. Does every gay or straight role have to go to those actors of the same orientation; does every role about the homeless have to go to a homeless actor, or does any role that requires difficulty in life have to be re-cast to put someone who lives that life in that role? That's what makes acting so beautiful, when done right. Case in point: "Precious."Instead of focusing on the boldness of the episode, many stories focused on the criticism, and that is understandable. It wouldn't be fair to ignore the criticisms, I wouldn't be doing my job.
But moving on...
Boy, Ryan Murphy was not kidding when he told us the episode was a game-changer. My heart broke into little pieces when watching the kids be so passive to Artie and his issues, but I understood.
Artie has always been so independent on the show. And he adds his own swagger (even if he is adorably dorky). Him being in a wheelchair has zero to do with his personality, and as a viewer you don't notice it -- and not that the kids didn't care because they loved him. They just never took the time to think how hard being disabled could be because Artie doesn't make it seem so bad after all. Besides, he's as big a dork in his own way as any of them. But he's such a lovable dork -- with a great voice. I mean, if you weren't tapping your feet, or were as giddy as a kid in a candy store to his pop-tastic rendition of "Dancing With Myself," then you have no soul. I'm not ashamed to say I was dancing with myself in my living room.
I thought it was sheer brilliance on the part of Mr. Schuester to make the kids spend time in a wheelchair. It humbled them all and even made the viewer think twice.
Of course you couldn't have "Glee" without a fine dose of the funny. And we all knew it would come to the showdown of two divas: Rachael and Kurt. Don't get me wrong, I'm always the one to argue that my "chocolate thunder" Mercedes (Amber Riley) isn't getting enough shine in the show (but then again her version of "Bust Your Windows" surpasses the original and she completely owned the national anthem, which whets my appetite enough for what's to come from her). But seeing these two face off was necessary, because other than the masterfully crafted "Single Ladies" homage that included probably the best and most realistic coming-out scene on television (sorry Ellen), we don't get much back story on Kurt.
Sometimes it's hard for me to accept Rachael's woe-is-me attitude. It's like, girl you're beautiful, you can sang (yes, sang!) and you made out with Puck. Life is good, yet still you want Finn (I get it), and you want this acceptance. Other than dressing like you shop strictly at Talbot's, you have a lot going for you.The face-off was beautifully done. How amazing was Kurt’s father demanding he get the chance to audition for “Defying Gravity"?
And this is where I become an emotional wreck. When Kurt's dad received an anonymous prank call with "that word" shouted at him. That little three-letter word, that no matter how often you unfortunately have had the pleasure of hearing, never gets any easier. Watching Kurt's father tell his son that he wished his mother was still around because she could deal with it better was just pitch perfect. And it was seeing the hurt in Kurt's father's eyes and the acceptance in Kurt's that was just painful. Kurt subsequently allowed his voice to crack in order to throw the competition to protect his father from having to deal with the harassment.If you weren't already crying like a newborn, there was this little gem: "I'm just saying that I love you more than I love being a star." Pass the Kleenex please.
Wednesday night was sheer perfection. And I hope I'm not the only one who didn't notice Mrs. Schuester wasn't present.... Take the hint. Now if only we could rid ourselves of this ridiculously preposterous pregnancy subplot. Just saying, it's not working and I know I'm not the only person both annoyed and over it.
If Wednesday night was the game changer, consider the game officially changed. Welcome back, "Glee." You know why you were missed.
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Follow me on Twitter @GerrickKennedy
Photos: Top, Artie (Kevin McHale) performs in the "Wheels" episode of "Glee."; Bottom, members of the Glee club hold a bake sale to earn money to hire a bus that could transport Artie. From left to right are Cory Monteith, Mark Salling, Dianna Agron and Naya Rivera. Credits: Carin Baer/FOX