“A Wedding” is Glee season six incarnate. The plot is a bunch of inevitabilities; play along with your checklist until we get to something new. The script is a bunch of very bad attempts at breeze. They should put the Tina-Artie lunch scene in a deep space probe just to throw off aliens about what humans are actually like. The songs are fun but superficial. But there is one thing animating this late period. Glee is an LGBT seminar.
Yes, jokers, it’s always been a big rainbow of a show, but not like this. This is the third episode in a row primarily interested in listing grievances with a homophobic society and celebrating queer identity. That’s not to say it’s any good at those things, but Santana giving a bird to all the families who reject their loved ones for being gay and Beiste taking his place in a supportive community of random trans singers he’ll never see again were far more powerful scenes than the usual late Glee fodder of romances nobody’s shipping and Sue Sylvester snoozes.
“A Wedding” splits the difference. It’s shot through with explicit morals and implicit arguments about gayness in America, and it’s one of the dullest episodes of the season because it’s all so obvious. Start with the Walter subsubsubplot. First of all, Walter (his name is Walter, right?) was never a character. He was an obstacle, and an unbelievable one at that. So props to the writers for not letting him stand between Kurt and Blaine for too long. After that kiss last week, Kurt realizes he has to break up with (I really hope his name is) Walter. Walter’s understanding to the point of masochism, which is how all of these fine and noble characters behave this season, but he has some advice. He tells Kurt to take advantage of his youth. Walter never had that, because he spent years trying to be straight. The feeling of this scene is the episode in microcosm. It’s kind of touching to hear from this gay man who feels like he wasted so much of his life because he wasn’t allowed to be gay, which is still a problem for many kids in Glee’s target audience, but the main point of this scene is to get Kurt to agree to marry Blaine tonight. Thanks, but no thanks, Walter!
The episode also relies on all the diffuse Burt Hummel sadness to get Kurt and Blaine to seize the day, but the subject only finally comes up when Brittany tells them it’s the one thing she wants as bride. And as Santana says, “Turns out I am a lot like the Godfather on a wedding day,” which is to say she’s happy to oblige. But that’s not all. Brittany’s pitch has to do with how Kurt and Blaine made her feel like she had a place in high school. She admires them as trailblazers, but it’s not just admiration. They helped make it easier to Brittany and Santana when they made it official. And now, as Sue said in one of these episodes, McKinley is a gay haven without a homophobic bully in sight. There are a couple threads to pull here, the macro story of gratitude toward the LGBT pioneers whose shoulders we stand on and the micro story about how kids coming out in high school makes things a little bit easier for the next class to do so, but again it’s all in service of getting Blaine and Kurt to put a ring on it.
Considering Finn’s behavior in the time after “The Break Up” where Rachel was dating that gigolo, it’s clearly not Glee’s style to respect that sometimes people move on and form new relationships. No, the high school romance is the end-all be-all, Karofsky and Walter Probably be damned. I’m not sure if it would be better or worse if Glee actually attempted the work of making those new relationships believable, but it probably couldn’t feel more like eye-poking time-filler on the road trip to True Love. So here we are, with just a few episodes left in the series and now Santana and Brittany and (separately, in their own union) Kurt and Blaine are getting married. I guess we’re supposed to be excited, as shippers or at least fans or at the very least viewers of these couples over the past six years. The double wedding is also explicitly cited as an expansion of what “people” thought love and marriage could be, meaning gay marriage isn’t threatening and scary but rather is pretty much the same thing as hetero marriage. Indeed. How boring.
There’s other boring drama, too, like Rachel being afraid to tell Finn’s mom that she’s dating Sam now. How dare you use Finn in such a dull way. Tina tries to propose to Mike, and while I’m at it, I’ll go ahead and read this as a queer moral too. Tina’s fervor comes from feeling left out, watching all her friends get married and whatnot. Guess which class of people has been enduring that particular disenfranchisement for decades. Yep, LGBT people. The only other redeeming quality to the Tina-Mike story is the return of Mike, but then he’s saddled with the most awkward rejection ever. He tells Tina he can’t marry her, they have their whole lives ahead (a cop to the people, like me, who aren’t thrilled with Glee’s take on high school OTP), and that there are tons of guys who’d be lucky to have her. Where is he coming from? Does he want to date her but not marry her? Or is he just being condescending? He kisses her on the lips and takes her to the dancefloor during the couples dance, but then everyone (e.g. Sue and Beiste, Puck and a mom) dances during the couples dance, so who knows what that means?
And if that’s not enough, there’s another Sue escapade (ugh) that involves setting things right between Santana and her abuela (yay). Sue almost starts to make some sense as a person at the end. She says that the New Directions are kind of like her own kids, and Sue is not an emotionally stable person, so she reacts to those feelings of intimacy by alternately pushing them out and pulling them in. You can almost buy it, but it doesn’t really matter. Sue’s barely in the episode. It might have been better not to have her at all, but then we wouldn’t get the payload of Abuela coming around not on Santana’s sexuality but on her loving place in her life. Thus Santana’s radical queer fury gives way to a restoration of the family and a commitment to a hetero institution. In “A Wedding,” every gay moral comes with a terrible normative price.
- Brittany to Kurt: “I find it really hard to track your relationship.” Same, but for everyone, including Brittany and Santana in these last few seasons.
- “Sue has been such a big part of our lives.” That doesn’t mean invite her to the wedding!
- Sue’s pitch to Abuela: Homophobes are bad. In the Bible they stone gays, in Russia they jail them, in the Westboro Baptist Church territory they picket them. Reminds me of when Texas had a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage. The marriage equality side chanted, “Vote with the KKK. Vote for Prop 2.”
- Sue: “Will you give America what at least 52 percent of it will legally tolerate?” Even the wording is deliciously sharp. Okay, I’m glad Sue was here.