A 'Glee' episode to cherish for lots of reasons

OK, get your sniggering out of the way now. Yes, I am a Gleek who looks forward to every episode of "Glee," even after sitting through the so-so and repetitive ones.

And what I saw last night reconfirmed my belief that this is an inspired and inspiring show.

I know that some folks think just the opposite. I read one devastating put down in a UK paper last season that made me almost hate "Glee" too -- until I came to my senses. Come on, this is not just another TV show.

It manages to cram in so many issues of teen angst, so many points of view about politics, sociology, sexuality and community -- all to a soundtrack of great songs (all right, mostly great). And for those of us who still carry around baggage from our younger years, especially concerning our orientation, "Glee" provides an amazing uplift.

We see the same old bullying, the same old stupidity, from kids and adults alike, in this show, but we also see ...

a lot of triumphs in the lives of these characters -- a perfect verbal comeback from Kurt; a dizzying, parent-defying dance routine from Mike; full-throttle diva turns by Rachel or Mercedes; a dollop of common sense from Kurt's dad.

Anyway, back to this week's episode, which drove home some great points, one of them unintentional.

In the excerpts from "West Side Story" woven into the plot, Lea Michele proved again why she would have made a highly credible Fanny Brice in the "Funny Girl" revival that has just been scrapped (come on -- did you really buy the Lauren Ambrose angle?).

Not saying that said revival would not still have been sunk by nervous investors and a shaky economy. But I am saying Michele clearly has the chops and, I imagine, the following to make her bankable on Broadway.

I thought that all of the "West Side Story" passages clicked in this "Glee" entry because they were truly, engagingly sung. The brilliance of Bernstein's music seemed to catch hold with the cast, seemed to mean something to them -- a welcome affirmation of a 50-year-old musical.

Yes, I know about vocal enhancers, but I don't think these performances, especially the exquisitely molded "One Hand, One Heart" duet between Michele and Darren Criss as Blaine, needed any electronics.

In the end, what deeply impressed and touched me the most about this episode was the way it allowed the relationship between Kurt  (the first-rate Chris Colfer) and Blaine to blossom in what seemed a very natural progression.

My partner and I -- we're far from ancient, but we did live through a very different time -- never expected to see gay characters depicted so sensibly and, more importantly, so romantically on a commercial TV series. "Glee" has pushed the envelope way off the table.

It's not just the discreet kisses, but the look in their eyes that is at once unapologetic, hopeful, tender and afraid (can anyone, anything this wonderful really last?).

There are so many fun plot lines intersecting in "Glee," heightened this season by Sue Sylvester's scary run for Congress. I look forward to seeing how all of them develop. But if I never saw another episode, I'd feel content knowing that I got to witness Kurt and Blaine get so much closer, and to hear so much potent singing from everyone along the way.

I realize that there is bound to be a backlash because of the teen sex in this episode (so tastefully suggested that some folks could have missed it completely). Get over it. This stuff happens. What really came through last night, more than anything else, was that simple little concept called love.


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