The Blaine Effect
It’s been barely more than a month since Criss debuted with his performance of “Teenage Dream,” which spread through the internet like wildfire. His performance inspired me to finally download iTunes after years of holding out, since the mp3 was available there about a week before it was to go on sale at my regular source, Amazon.com. Almost immediately after his debut, it was announced Criss had been cast as a regular, and I’ve been hearing a lot more about Glee since then than I ever did before.
Take for instance Criss’ duet with Chris Colfer (Kurt) on tonight’s episode. Fox used the below clip to generate buzz, something that would have been unheard of even a few years ago. But what’s even more striking is that a male-male duet is on a mainstream Christmas album. A relative asked me what the big deal was and I challenged her to name a single mainstream gay male duet; she couldn’t.
Sure, Criss is a good actor, looks dashing and has a great voice, but I think the character of Blaine has caught on the way it has because he’s so unusual. There aren’t many gay characters on TV, especially on prime time on a major network, and even when there are they tend to fall into very stereotypical roles. As I said last post, Kurt stands out for being out, but he’s also a high-voiced, fashion-obsessed effeminate boy who loves musicals—a stereotype from the ’50s. Blaine, on the other hand, comes off as a well-adjusted, normal (if somewhat preppy) guy who’s comfortable in his own skin, and that’s just about revolutionary.
It seems like the writers are still trying to get his character down, and he has had some unfortunately stereotypical moments since his debut, but I still have hope for Blaine. He has the potential to be the kind of character we rarely get even in shows aimed at gay audiences. (Try to find a normal person on “Queer as Folk” and you’ll be sorely disappointed). I really hope the writers can get him to that point, because while having someone like Kurt would have been great when I was in high school, but someone like the idealized Blaine in my head would have been a teenage dream come true.