Glee hits a sour note for adult Virgins

Glee, that show about a geeky high school glee club, is a guilty pleasure that I’m almost embarrassed to admit I like. It’s a cornball, PG-13, pop music, high school, bubblegum, melodrama that at my age I’m supposed to be above watching. Still, I never miss an episode. And tonight is Glee night, so I’ll be parked in front of my TV set with a bag of microwave popcorn as usual. I don’t know what’s in store this week, but last week was as melodramatic as ever when a hip and popular substitute teacher played by Gwyneth Paltrow, almost took Mr. Schuster’s job as Glee club director. However, it’s episode that aired the week before it that I’m still reeling from. In this episode called never been kissed Coach Beiste outed herself as a Virgin when she admitted that she had never kissed.

Although Glee is one of my favorite shows and I appreciate the fact that  it  has made Virgins more visible in that it has several Virgin characters, I resent the stereotypical image of Virginity presented in the never been kissed episode.The idea that adult Virgins are just unattractive losers that can’t get laid is one of the most pervasive stereotypes out there, and Glee perpetuates it through Coach Beiste.

The physical appearance of Coach Beiste, the hefty, unattractive female gym teacher that coaches the football team, has been the butt of jokes since her character first appeared on the show. Even her name is a joke because “Beiste” sounds like “beast“, and that is essentially what she is being called. In the never been kissed episode, her appearance was mocked by the glee kids who used mental images of her to kill their sexual desire during make-out sessions with partners that wouldn’t put out. After she had been insulted and publicly humiliated by this she revealed in a sob story to Mr. Schuster that she was 40 and had never been kissed. Mr. Schuster gave her a “pity kiss” which she gladly accepted as any stereotypical Virgin with no chance of getting a man would. 

The stereotypical image of Virginity as a condition of sexually undesirable people is based on prejudice and ignorance. Looks have nothing to do with sexual experience. Lots of unattractive people have lost their Virginity simply because they were willing to put out; and lots of attractive people have kept their Virginity because they don’t believe in sleeping around. Coach Beast (Oops, I mean, Coach Beiste.) does not represent the majority of adult Virgins any more than Emma Pillsbury, the other adult Virgin character on the show whose paranoid fear of germs makes her avoid all closeness and intimacy, does. I think it’s sad that Glee which is supposed to be all about acceptance cannot accept adult Virginity without negative stereotypes. And I think its hypocritical that a show that promotes a message of tolerance would promote the intolerant view that there must be something wrong with someone who remains a Virgin into adulthood.

It’s wonderful that Glee has helped to make Virgins more visible by portraying them as part of the social landscape, but it’s only until Glee accepts Virgins and Virginity without stereotypes or prejudice that it will actually practice what it preaches.

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