Last night’s Glee seemed to revisit last year’s Newsweek-induced debate about gay actors playing straight roles, channeled here through Kurt and Blaine both auditioning for West Side Story. Kurt’s audition was deemed comical, but his butchier boyfriend Blaine nailed it — proving that of course gay actors (well, in this case gay characters) can play straight roles. Which no one ever really wondered about, right?
Hop aboard the wayback machine! In May 2010, entertainment writer Ramin Setoodeh wrote a very controversial story for Newsweek criticizing Sean Hayes and Jonathan Groff, among others, for not playing convincing straight characters. Ryan Murphy fired back, calling for a boycott of Newsweek for what he called a “blatantly homophobic” article. (Doesn’t this all feel like a long time ago?) Setoodeh and Murphy seemed to bury the hatchet, but last night’s episode brought the beef back into the conversation. Kurt lamented that he’d have to play straight to get the “great romantic leads” he wants. (Though moments later, he complains that “no one’s looking for a Kurt Hummel type to play opposite Kate Hudson in a rom-com.” Kurt, honey, if that’s your idea of a great romantic lead, you have bigger problems.) “You’re gay,” Kurt’s father reminds him. “And you’re not like Rock Hudson gay, you’re really gay. You sing like Diana Ross and you dress like you own a magic chocolate factory.”
Which is what’s a little surprising about the episode. Based on Murphy’s previously stated opinion about sexuality-blind casting, he would have had Kurt win the role of Tony anyway. Instead, Blaine crushed his audition, and the episode didn’t seem to suggest that Kurt was being unfairly overlooked for the part on account of his sexuality — just that he wasn’t right for the role, and someone else had a better audition. Kurt’s father even advised Kurt to go invent great parts for himself, rather than worry about the ones he wasn’t right for. The episode seemed to demonstrate exactly what Murphy had previously railed against: Kurt isn’t tough enough for the role. Maybe on Setoodeh’s Glee set visit, he convinced Murphy that, like other actors, not all gay actors are good at everything.
Or maybe next week, Kurt will get that part after all.