Kurt is flamboyant, dresses in way too much lame', and idolizes Broadway songstresses. Sure. okay. I expected that from television. It's not the greatest, but whatever. I think the great thing about Kurt's portrayal is his relationship with his father. The give and take of his dealing with Kurt's sexuality is heartwarming and honest, and though he doesn't agree with it, he loves his son enough to go to bat for him when he is discriminated against. They also have real conversations. Kurt frequently reminds me of what Rickie Vasquez might look like if My So-Called Life were a comedy and on the air today. Anyone who has seen that amazing show knows that that is a significant comparison. Here's hoping Kurt's character arcs continue to be complex.
And now to Artie, the reason for this post. There's been a great deal of discussion online regarding last week's episode. Some has been negative, some positive. I agree with a bit of both. I second Bitch Magazine's assertion that the episode contains a fair bit of "crip drag," especially in its closing number, wherein the entire cast performs a wheelchair dance version of "Proud Mary." Get it? "Rollin', Rollin'..." Yeah. They went there. I also agree with this blogger, who says the following about living with a disability:
[Artie's] portrayal as a kid who is frustrated and hampered by his disability yet is doing his best to live with it is such a much more realistic portrayal of what its like to live with a disability than other portrayals where the disabled person is a rude, bitter, sarcastic bastard who uses his disability as an excuse to avoid the real world (I'm looking at you, House), or a plucky, peppy go-getter who barely seems aware of her disability because gosh-darn it, its just a little ole minor inconvenience that doesn't really impact her life. When you have a disability, you are always, always acutely aware of it, and you live in a perpetual state of frustration over it - or so has been my experience. You can't let it stop you, and you just have to work with it as best as you can, but it's something that colors everything you do and every interaction you have with any other person and it is a source of constant frustration.
As someone who has spent every day of her life in a back-and-forth negotiation with physical ability, it really made me happy to see Artie expressing those struggles as well. Even as I lamented the fact that the young man playing him is able-bodied (disabled actors are notoriously unemployed, unless they're Marlee Matlin, and even then the majority of her roles boil down to either "She's so brave!" or "Oh, look, she's actually normal!"), I couldn't help but appreciate the obvious work he'd done to get inside his character's head. I guess I'll stick around to see what happens.