Written by Duana

I’m as malleable as anyone when it comes to TV tearjerking. Everyone has their particular flavour, but mine usually runs to weight-loss revelations that people are, in fact, strong enough. Other people get deeply involved in soaps, shows about babies, take your pick.

I also get that Glee is, for lots of people, sort of a balm, to massage you and make you feel like you’re not alone in the world. I would have found it crack cocaine when I was 13 and everything was so difficult. We get through a problem and then we all sign together.

But in last night’s episode, Sue Sylvester’s pain at the loss of her sister - a sister that none of the other characters have met, only heard about – was exploited to allow pretty people to cry glycerine tears and remind us that they’re human before the absolute onslaught of excess that next week’s New York extravaganza will be.

I might be about to offend you, so be aware as you read on: I have many issues with this episode, but I didn’t like that we were supposed to feel more for Jean because she had Down syndrome. Wouldn’t it have been just as sad if it had been any sister? Anyone Sue cared about? I got the idea - she was sweet and kind and childlike and everything Sue wasn’t – and frankly, I don’t have a problem with the Glee club performing at the funeral of anyone who might need it. Lord knows I did it myself enough in choirs over the years.

But there was something about the inclusion of Becky in this episode that made it feel like all Down Syndrome people are seen (by this show) as interchangeable. Ignore the completely abusive behavior of excluding, then including, poor Becky who just has to hug people at their whim, even if they’ve been cruel to her. The actress, Lauren Potter, is great, but I wonder if the show’s plot twists are as bewildering to her as they are to the rest of us. Becky’s on the team! Now she’s off the team! Because her boss is a (possibly lovable) psychopath!

The idea that Becky is Sue’s mascot, because having someone with Down Syndrome gives her some sort of humanity that she can put on and cast off at will is just repugnant to me. My friend J told me, early on in Glee’s inception, that the inclusion of people with Down’s made her happy, just in terms of visibility. I don’t disagree, but I’m not sure that showing Becky as an easily manipulated puppet is what we’re going for here, is it?

The funeral was maudlin, as funerals are, and I take issue with the characters, almost more than the actors – it’s a very teenage thing to make someone else’s pain about you, so of course there were lots of tears and breakups and heavy breathing. Teenagers only understand emotions as they relate to themselves, and Kurt and Finn are nice sweet boys. So I could get on board with them planning a funeral to seem noble. But the somber faces of the cast (and the white dresses! Am I a dinosaur?) were just a little much for someone who they not only didn’t know, but is related to someone they frequently despise. Sure, whatever.

As for the totally unrelated and painful subplot – I only have to ask this. If a teacher is so talented at what he does that he’s going to Broadway to help open a show, does it inspire confidence when he can’t choose his own soloist? Does it give you an idea of him having great instincts when he can’t tell a 19-year-old to stop sucking his own d*ck and perving on a young girl? Do you feel excited to see what human emotions he can bring to a show when his life is spent ping-ponging between an emotionally manipulative ex-wife, emotionally crippled overgrown child, and a psychotically disconnected sociopath?

I have to say, episodes like this make me feel better though. Last week I thought I was getting soft.

Attached – Cory Monteith, Chord Overstreet, Jenna Ushkowitz, and Jayma Mays at the Fox TV Upfronts in New York earlier this week.

Photos from Splashnewsonline.com