I haven't recapped Glee for two seasons now, and the just-premiered season 6 will be the third. But that doesn't mean I don't care about a show I once not only loved, but thought was important and powerful.
It also doesn't mean I don't care about the relationship between Kurt and Blaine, even though I am not what their devoted fans call a "Klainer."
My working definition of that term is that Klainers wouldn't watch or forgive the show if their pairing was split up. It would fundamentally damage what they like about it, and as far as I can tell from the Klaine tag on Tumblr, send a few into a fetal position that might last for years.
My feelings about Kurt and Blaine are not even remotely that intense. Still, I liked them, I rooted for them, I was moved by many things about their early relationship, and I would have been perfectly happy for them to end up together. I still wish the show, against all apparent odds, would find a way to make that happen without making me want to gouge out my eyes.
I know a lot of Kurt fans can't forgive Blaine for cheating on him back in Season 4. I don't feel that way; people screw up, and I thought the whole break-up arc was handled brilliantly.
In fact, "The Break-Up" is one of my all-time favorite Glee episodes. I particularly love that it broke up all three of the Glee uber-couples regardless of sexual orientation: Finn and Rachel, Santana and Brittany, and yes, Kurt and Blaine. Kurt's devastation was so mature and so perfectly conveyed by actor Chris Colfer I was almost glad they broke up so I could see it, and the songs "Don't Speak" and "The Scientist" so tone-perfect and heart-wrenching, I was okay with the apparent failure of even one single high school pairing to survive the graduation of one or more of each couple.
Still, I expected all three couples to at some point reunite, and while the death of actor Cory Monteith left Finn and Rachel's ultimate future in shambles, the other two did get back together again.
I was happy to see Brittany and Santana reunite, and not because I'm far more a Brittana shipper than a Klainer. It's because, as another fan said to me, the two girls genuinely bring out the best in each other, make each other better people.
Once upon a time, Kurt and Blaine were the same. I remember when Kurt first met Blaine, and how Blaine tried so hard to be there for him - mentoring him as an older gay teen (I'll get back to their subsequent age-swap in a minute), asking Kurt's dad to talk to him about sex, helping Kurt fit in at Dalton Academy (albeit in a way I found kind of horrifying, but given the "bird singing in a gilded cage" theme, I think was deliberate), texting him "Courage," trying to intervene with Kurt's bully - it was sweet and, I thought, perceived by Kurt as balm to a wounded soul.
After they started dating, I loved that Blaine transferred schools to be with Kurt. I loved that they seemed to really talk, and that they discussed sex. The scene where Kurt asks Blaine if he finds him sexually boring and Blaine tells him he's the most interesting kid in Ohio is still, I think, one of the best, least angsty, conversations between teens about sex I've ever seen on television.
And the episode "The First Time" I thought was just about perfect, including the scene where Blaine gets drunk and tries to convince Kurt to have sex with him. Blaine was an asshole, of course, but I thought he was a pretty sympathetic asshole, given he was a teenaged boy.
Then, for reasons having nothing to do with the story or good writing and everything to do with keeping the character Blaine back in Lima to anchor a new slate of show choir members, Blaine had an age regression.
From being clearly older than Kurt, or at the very least, his same age, Blaine was transformed into a year younger -- a junior to Kurt's senior. Which meant he was a sophomore when they met, which makes pretty much every single thing about his backstory and his level of maturity make no sense at all.
I mean, I was a pretty mature 15-year-old, but no. Just no.
And I think this is when it all went to hell.
I like Darren Criss a lot, but he's a much better dancer and singer than he is an actor. He seems to have only one way to convey any form of negative emotion when he's not singing, and that's to furrow his brow and look like he's going to cry. I'm sure it's daunting to constantly have to do scenes with Colfer, who can convey more emotions with one eyebrow than most actors can with an entire soliloquy, but that lack of emotional nuance does reduce Blaine to a one-note whiner.
A note we got to hear a lot as the couple navigated pending and then actual separation, Blaine's feelings of rejection by Kurt, their lack of communication, Blaine's infidelity, and their break-up.
Don't get me wrong; I didn't want Blaine to be Kurt's mentor indefinitely. I wanted them to be equals. If they were going to make it as a couple, I wanted them to grow up together, as equals.
But from the day the writers made Blaine insecure and younger than Kurt, that couldn't happen, because the only tool available to convey Blaine's unhappiness, his confusion, his discomfort, his worry, his grief -- his any negative emotion -- was whining.
At the end of season 5, Kurt and Blaine were together in New York City. There were still problems with the way the show treated their relationship, but they had a few really nice scenes, including the one where they decide not to live together. I wasn't really feeling them anymore, as the writers didn't give me anything that allowed me to, but I didn't actively want to fast-forward through every scene they were in.
In the season 6 premiere, they've broken up, which we only see in a brief flashback. Kurt's now regretting it, and leaves New York behind to go back to Lima to try to get Blaine back. And while Chris Colfer can still act, there's only so much you can do when the writers have given you nothing whatsoever to help the audience understand why the Kurt who spent seasons 4 and 5 becoming a man any parent would be proud of is suddenly the insecure, pathetic figure from season 2.
I just don't get it, but worse, I find I don't care. I don't see any way they can turn these characters around in the few remaining episodes before the series finale and what we've been promised is the couple's wedding (please don't get me started on these babies getting married, and that goes for Brittany and Santana, too, who are going to meet the same fate).
At this point, since there don't seem to be the raw materials of time and talent to make this work or have emotional validity, we're left with a sort of "Fiat Klaine!" instead of a reunion and possible future for the couple that I, at least, could believe in. Or even want.
If they'd left their relative ages the same, if Darren Criss was a more nuanced actor or they let him sing his emotions all the time instead of trying to convey them through facial expressions and the spoken word, if... well, if Glee was always what its best episodes were... maybe I'd feel differently.
Maybe I will, when it all plays out. But I was so disturbed by the first part of the season premiere I wanted to burn something. So disturbed I had to blog about this show for the first time in two years. So disturbed I've made this thing so long no one's going to read it, except some diehard Klainers who will do it just to rebut my every point.
So let me say again: If things were different, I would still be rooting for your boys. But until then, I can't. Which means I'm pretty sure I never will, because we're almost out of time.