In the first five episodes of its sophomore season “Glee” has addressed topics as ephemeral as “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and the music of Britney Spears, and as enduring as the nature of religious faith. In Tuesday night’s installment it turns to subject matter that is timely and also substantial: the episode, called “Never Been Kissed,” finds Kurt Hummel (an openly gay character played by Chris Colfer) antagonized by a bully who targets him because of his sexuality, and it addresses the consequences of Kurt’s decision to stand up to his tormentor.
Ryan Murphy, a creator and executive producer of “Glee,” has said this will be the first of several episodes in which its characters are affected by bullying. In the first part of a two-part interview, Mr. Murphy spoke with ArtsBeat about the ideas and themes that went into “Never Been Kissed.” (Part 2 of the conversation will be posted on Wednesday, after you’ve had a chance to watch the episode.)
Q.The issue of bullying – young people in general and gay people in particular – has recently become a flashpoint for discussion. How long have you been planning to use Chris Colfer’s character to tackle it?
A.We had planned on doing that all long. We’ve been building to it for the past season and a half. You’ve seen him thrown in Dumpsters, you’ve seen him get slushied. We wanted to do a story line where the abuse pushed him to the edge and he was like, “That’s it, I’m not going to take it any more,’ and fight back. It’s a big story that we’re following through the whole year, and it has tentacles that will touch on all the characters. Right when we finished writing this, that’s when there were these front-page stories about teen suicides from bullying, so it took on an extra, added significance. It really did ignite the cast and the crew to do their best and push themselves with the story.