Love is not a victory march.
Neither is ambition. Or fame.
And, for that matter, neither is blogging about random TV shows.
While Glee adhered to my rules in its finale (the Ferryman took a toll from Rachel and from Finn, and wouldn’t let Kurt leave), I was gobsmacked when Kurt didn’t get into NYADA. Although with Kurt’s lovely moments with both his father and Blaine as the season’s end drew closer, what else could have happened really? I should have seen it, and I had too many hearts in my eyes to notice.
I’ve spent a lot of time tonight being amazed at how much a post I tossed up on Tumblr about the nature of highly selective programs is getting reblogged, but the reason there seems pretty clear too.
It’s clear in the sad, frustrated, resigned feeling I had at the end of tonight’s episode: Rachel wins the day for the simplest of structural reasons; someone like Rachel is, innately, an avatar for more people than someone like Kurt.
Rachel is, and has always been, the center of the show, despite the kindnesses delivered to people who see themselves in Kurt Hummel. She has to get the victory story, because, as hard as it is to comprehend when you’re not someone who sees themselves in Rachel, more underdogs are hurt if it’s Kurt and not her.
I get it. I really do. Not even as the queer kid, but as the weird kid. My problem wasn’t that I was an ugly duckling or overbearing (although I have been and can be both), my problem is that I was just other — sad, powerful, never the right age, and generally poor at acting on my halfway decent political instincts.
Stories are never really about people like that. I know that; Tumblr knows that; Glee knows that; and Kurt Hummel definitely knows that.
But once I got past that and thought about some of the things I keep saying about Glee — the toll of the ferryman, and Kurt’s death work in particular (did you see him, with that giant beetle pinned to his graduation robe? I’ll have to do a whole post about his brooches during hiatus) — I hit a point of peace with it.
Kurt hasn’t paid his price yet, and hasn’t done any of his work as chief mourner on his own behalf. I imagine he’s frustrated that his assets make it harder for him to achieve; and boggled that he suddenly seems so much older than Blaine (and he really, really did in this episode).
I think about all the metaphors and symbolism we’ve played with and tried to decode this season — faerie foods and mystical pregnancies — and I wonder if every time Kurt kisses Blaine it’s like another pomegranate seed that keeps him in this Underworld that is Lima.
However, at the end of the season, without knowing where we’re going next, that’s rather besides the point. It’s not the metaphor or the symbolism that matters, so much as the reason we seek it (other than it’s fun).
For a lot of us, I think that reason, oddly, goes back to one of the first things I ever said about Glee: which is that it’s really hard for me to watch shows supposedly about outcasts when I know that if we shared a world, I still wouldn’t be cool enough for them.
This is why it hurts when Kurt Hummel fails, because unlike most of the “outcast” teens on TV — including Rachel and Finn (and oh, is is hard to watch everyone have so much damn gratitude for them) — it’s easy to get the sense that Kurt might be nice to us, or, you know, at least willing to sit at our table during lunch, even if he’s totally judging our choices in footwear.
But Kurt is older and wiser than Rachel. He doesn’t need NYADA to shape him, so much as he needs something to spin him around and point him in the right direction. That’s coming, and it won’t be easy, or nice or kind for any of us, but it will be necessary.
In the meantime, maybe we should take some time to feel pretty awesome about his victories. Kurt Hummel changed his life, his dad’s life, Blaine’s life, Dave Karofsky’s life, Rachel’s life; and he changed, just a little bit, that hellhole of a school. I can’t be the only who cried at the shot of the tadpole gays; are those two boys best friends just waiting to discover they’re in love? Do they dream of one day being as cool as Kurt and Blaine?
Let’s face it, whether he’s salved wounds new or old, real or imagined, Kurt Hummel’s changed our lives too, even if just for an hour every Tuesday night.
So yes, there was a lot of to be frustrated with in that season finale structurally and thematically, but some things remain true: Kurt’s always been better than Lima, and arguably Glee, but why it hurts is because we never thought Kurt was better than us, and we were sure were all going to get out of this place together.
But don’t worry. Take a deep breath. It’ll happen. This is all normal. I promise.
Because you know what else isn’t a victory march?
It’s the lack of control, you see. That’s what makes it sweet when it all finally turns out exactly the way we want. Until them, like Kurt, we have to hold on tight, smile at the margins, and write our own stories.
And you know what? They’re going to be amazing.