'Glee' Plot to Move Kurt to Russia is The Last Straw, Ryan Murphy
This has all gone on long enough, Ryan Murphy: The madness ends here and now. Because the mere thought that you might move Kurt Hummel to Russia for the final season of Glee — your perennial shark jumper to end all shark jumpers masquerading as an after-school special — proves what we've thought for much of the FOX musicomedy series' run: You've lost your marbles. You and co-creators Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk have up and lost 'em all. In what world, outside of a self-serving one, would such disregard for a character's actual, y'know, character, be allowed? Moving the ship to Russia is the straw that broke believability's back — which is really saying something when you consider we're talking about a show that interjects preachy non-believability with the speed and force of a Clydesdale.
According to the article's source, "We are mulling around the idea of moving Kurt (Chris Colfer) to Russia." Because of course they are! Because this is Glee, a show in which nothing makes sense. Viewers could forgive slap-dashed premises for the sake of hitting home, paying tribute, or just generally trying to show children how to handle stuff with a bit more humanity. But relocating one of the show's major characters to Russia? That's a move not even Sarah Palin could see coming — and her house is like, right there.
Now, there's no word on why Kurt would be moved to Russia, but, c'mon: Why ELSE would Kurt move to Russia? For a show that's notorious for commenting on every single media circus-y topical injustice ever, it seems pretty obvious: The show likely wants to tackle Russia's big ole homophobia problem. For the uninitiated, Russia is the current hotbed of international inequality, thanks to their laws against "nontraditional sexual relations." On the heels of the winter Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia this year, it's obviously a big talking point. Of course what Russia is doing is awful. It's a failing of humanity and people's inability to think beyond their own experience. Protests heard loud and proud across the world were heartening, and yes, there definitely needs to be more done to stop such nonsensical, government-approved bullying.
So by that logic, shining more light on such grotesque bigotry is a good thing. Right? After all, Murphy has a platform — a very big one. But actually, nope: It's not! Just like Lady Gaga and other self-proclaimed activist-oriented-celebrities who conveniently co-opt the plights of others (regardless of perceived "good intentions") for their own personal gain, it's gross. It's not personal, or sensical, but rather an opportune time to do an opportunistic thing and encourage people to tune in. Incidentally, I've heard self-service is a dish best served not at all. Not even cold!
This is nothing new: The show has enjoyed an after-school special mentality — let's touch on everything and wrap it up in a sweet little sing-songy bow at the end of 54 minutes! — for years now. At this point, most of us had resigned that the show with so much promise (oh, that pilot was so good, wasn't it?) was long, long, looooong gone. As each week passed, the absurd premises grew until Glee was no longer the show about a bunch of misfits trying to muddle through the weirdest part of adolescence. Instead, it became an absurdist exercise on premise, ushered out to the masses, begging to be loved and lauded. And, in most circumstances, I'm of the Let Murphy have his fun ilk. We've still got the undeniably stellar American Horror Story , after all. Don't like it, don't watch it, I always say.
But the Glee team might have gone too far this time: The series has managed to hit most of the social issues currently plaguing our world in the most patronizing of fashion (remember that school shooting episode?), regardless of criticism. Because ratings! Because money from iTunes sales! Because everything! When running a show, one hopes that the priority would be to the show, its characters, quality storytelling, and its fans. Rather than some burning desire to sing and dance international homophobia away, as if it were that easy.
Including a Russia-hates-gays storyline just for the sake of its appearance (or to check off some morality checklist Murphy keeps by his Emmy Awards) puts Murphy neck-deep in a pool of his show's biggest problems: timing, resolution, believability, and authenticity. To shuffle Kurt over to Russia in order to jazz-handily strong arm equality in another part of the world where he really has no real reason to be there is just offensive. And laughable. It shows a complete disregard to the fans that love the show (and boy, oh boy do those fans love them some Kurt and Blaine). Kurt and Blaine have enough hurdles and challenges to overcome and finish up in this purported last season. They don't need an international move piled onto their struggles as well.
And, quite simply: Kurt would never move to Russia. Incorporate this storyline into Glee, and, like most of the characters on the show (I mean, seriously: What are they doing to that poor girl Tina?), Kurt will cease to exist as a person and become yet another placeholder for Glee's own desire to constantly comment on — and discuss — topical issues. Regardless of whether or not they fit with the a) storyline, b) characters, c) style, or d) anything at all, really, that has to do with the show.
What is there to gain from throwing Kurt Hummel, in his final season, in Russia just 'cuz? What about his relationship with Blaine? What about his singing? (Or, wait, is it acting now? Or is it being in a band? Or is it fashion? Or is it gay rights activism now?) What about school? What about Kurt Hummel makes you say, "Yes, he would totally move to Russia" other than absolutely nothing? He's not going to get a big break in Russia. Just having him exist in this place doesn't do enough. It's a move that proves this show is not about characters-as-authentic-people, but rather placeholders as cookie dough: pushed, pulled, and rolled between fingers until malleable enough to form into the shape of whatever desired confection Murphy's chomping at the bit for at the moment.
Of course, none of this would be a problem if Kurt Hummel were the sort of character that was impassioned by social justice. What has motivated Hummel thus far, though? Creative self-expression of the big Broadway star variety. That's his passion — throwaway Vogue.com internship notwithstanding. So no matter what nonsensical reasoning you eke in there to rationalize such a move — "He got a part in a Russian tour of Book of Mormon!" "The creative director of such-and-such website in Russia wants to hire him!" "Blaine's decided he wants to take a gap year there to learn how to make nesting dolls!" — will come across as a very obvious ploy. A ploy for ratings, a ploy for heartstrings, and a ploy for Murphy and Co. to make themselves feel like they've actually done something other than a move that doesn't ring true.
Murphy clearly has the charisma and the prowess to put together a solid TV premise. His career is nothing to balk at (especially considering he went from journalist to TV showrunner, which is, well, sort of The Dream, at least for this particular writer), and he's not all bad all the time. And creating a personalized look on the effects of the the terrible, no good, very bad business going on in Russia right now is certainly admirable. But there's a time and a place for everything. Let's just call it what the Russia storyline what it really is: Armchair activism for the producer set. Glee is not a show I've considered myself a fan of since Season 1 — though I encounter it regularly thanks to my roommate's love of it — but as someone who loves television, especially good television (or in the very least, television with promise and a little bit of heart), it's depressing to see heart manipulated for no good reason. And, well, there's not really anything Gleeful about that.
Image: Mike Yarish/FOX