Glee and Social Issues Part 5: Ryder and Kitty

Okay it’s been awhile since the episode, so I guess I should talk about it. I mean this has been in my drafts folder for well a long time.

Sigh. I swear I started writing this after the episode aired. I promise.

So…let’s talk about “Lights Out” (season four episode twenty).

More specifically let’s talk about Ryder and Kitty and the truth that we learned about them.

Before I delve into this topic and my observations of it let’s get the necessary part out of the way, shall we?

As always all of the views in this post is based on my own observations and conclusions drawn through a rewatch of the television show Glee. This is just MY opinion. If you agree fantastic if you don’t then I respect your opinion too. 

(This post contains spoilers up to episode twenty of season four “Light Out”.)

Sexual. Abuse.

Before I get into this I feel like I should say that sexual abuse is NEVER OKAY at all. And if you are a victim of sexual abuse then I strongly urge you to check out RAINN, an organization that can get you help, and call the police to report it. If you can’t call the police then tell someone you trust so they can help you or get you help.

So with that out of the way let’s talk Kitty and Ryder.

You know I never thought that glee would go this route. So I have to admit that I am kind of surprised by this revelation.

Granted, I never thought that glee would do guns in school (season four episode eighteen “Shooting Star”), LGBT suicide (season three episode fourteen”On My Way”) or domestic violence (season three episode eighteen “Choke”) either. So clearly, I need to stop assuming that glee would do something. If people want something on the show then dammit they will get it on there.

Now I think that the social issues that glee tackles are good to talk about. I mean I still think “Shooting Star” is one of the best examples of glee handling a socially relevant topic and doing it right. Also going back to season one, Quinn’s pregnancy storyline was also well handled. If they have the time to explore the issue then I believe that glee can do it well.

“Lights Out” doesn’t have that cohesion that I wish to see when glee tackles a storyline like this. I mean you just revealed that two of your characters are survivors of sexual abuse, and then you go into “We Will Rock You”? I mean don’t get me wrong I like the cover but the context is just…mind boggling.

“Lights Out” from a storytelling perspective, which is how I judge episodes, is flawed in the same way as “On My Way” was flawed. Basically they took parts of two VERY different episodes and shoved them together with glue, chewing gum and bits of string to make a Frankenepisode. “On My Way” was combined with an exploration of LGBT suicide plot and the Regionals plot. Both were just at such utter conflict with each other that it made the episode into a mess.

“Lights Out” combines what seems to be a very lighthearted episode about getting ready for Regionals and trying to figure out how to make music without the expensive electronic toys. It is combined with an episode that explores the root of why Kitty and Ryder why they are the way they are with everyone dealing with it. These two plotlines should have been totally separated.

Just so utterly separated.

“Lights Out” fails because it does give the appropriate attention to the fact that two of the new characters were both molested as children. They don’t address how utterly inappropriate Sam and Artie were in their comments to Ryder. They don’t have Jake talking with Ryder about what was said. Ryder announced this to New Directions and the rest of the episode it is virtually ignored. Shouldn’t his parents know about this? Did they know? How did they react when they were told? When people heard about the school violence episode this was what they were expecting.

Now from the perspective of character, this make a whole mess of sense for Kitty. You just knew that there was something in her past that was making her act the way she did. I saw it coming from a mile off. Her irrational hatred toward Marley, her fickle feelings, how she hides when she is happy there was something in her past that made her the way she is. We all knew it. Just like we knew there was something with Santana as well or Karofsky.

People who are the bullies on glee, at least the majority of them, have something in their past or within themselves that drives them to be that way. It can be true for a lot of people in the world.

Kitty protects herself by pushing people away. People would hurt her in the end. So she has to hurt them first. She has know friends because it was her best friend’s brother and her (ex) best friend’s treatment of her that led her to this moment. Friends lead to her being hurt in the end.

Then she sees Marley who is pretty, sweet and has all these boys drooling after her so of course she would want to her. She would want to break someone who has an innocence that she no longer has. Maybe I’m reading too much into this.

It just makes so much sense for Kitty to have gone through something like and to still be dealing with the after effects.

Ryder, on the other hand, doesn’t make as much sense.

I sincerely believe that Kitty and her story were planned from the beginning or at least partway through. It was too developed and had too much background not to be planned.

For Ryder…he has a little bit too much going on at this point for it to make sense. We had the dyslexia storyline. He was in the middle of the Katie storyline at this point. Yeah I understand him baring his soul to a stranger but I just don’t know…It just…It seems tacked on? It’s too much at this point. It’s like they needed a catalyst to happen in order for Kitty’s revelation to occur. Then that whole Sam and Artie thing happened and I get that is how some guys think with news like that.

It just…no one yelled at them? No one slapped them? No one did anything to defend Ryder? I mean I get being stunned but come on. Then after the scene with Ryder and Kitty the storyline is never brought up again.

It’s not brought in a meaningful way. I would have liked to see one of the newbies process this. I mean Jake is Ryder’s best friend right? Why aren’t they talking about this.

Now I get that this is relevant storyline. I also understand that this is something that Ryan Murphy would like to talk about since he is a survivor of sexual abuse. I just wish that it was given the proper attention that it deserved. It was just forcibly shoved together with an episode that seemed meant to be lighthearted. If you want to tackle this, fine but do it in a respectful manner.

Glee has a young-ish audience. I understand the need to tell them about all the ugliness in the world. They have probably experienced it as well. People/writers/showrunners need to realize this. If you do a topic such as sexual abuse and the after effects then give it the proper respect.

Now they’ll need to bring it up again. Kitty and Ryder are fairly major-ish characters. You can’t just drop something like this and not bring it up again. If it was a one-off character or a very minor recurring character then maybe you can get away with it? (Probably not.) But when you give a character like Ryder or Kitty this storyline then you have to visit it again. You can’t just make it a one and done. It needs to be followed up on.

Otherwise an episode like this is useless and offensive. It completely undermines the characters and the audience who is watching. It isn’t fair to them, the show or to the writers. If you bring it up once and do not have a satisfying resolution then you damn well need to bring it up again. Especially since the characters are RIGHT THERE and viewers going to be thinking about it.

That’s my piece on it anyway. It makes sense for Kitty. It seems shoved in with Ryder, who had an very full plate of story. The episode needed a couple of rewrites. It was a mess that I hadn’t seen since “On My Way” with the Karofsky storyline. This development needs to be brought back again and given a satisfying conclusion.

NEXT ON THE GLEE REWATCH PROJECT: Bad Glee Theatre, a character retrospective or a Life Lesson From Glee. I don’t know yet!

Follow Me: @GleeRewatch for the latest updates. If you want there is always my personal account if you want to hear my daily dose of random babbling! Also I am a contributor for PopWrapped and write glee-caps for the site.

Credits: Glee Wikia
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3 comments on “Glee and Social Issues Part 5: Ryder and Kitty

  1. ebencipe says:

    Kitty is becuming nice in this episode. I hope she and Ryder will have sumthing next season. But Im not really sure if Ryder’s role will still be in glee club since he mentioned on the last ep that he’ll be leaving new directions..

    • There’s a good chance he’ll come back. They invested a lot in Blake Jenner. They were probably setting up a story for him next season so we can just go right in.

      Thank you for the comment!

  2. […] twenty “Lights Out,” it was revealed that both Kitty and Ryder were survivors of sexual abuse. Now maybe they’ll bring it up again. But at this point? I don’t have a whole lot of […]

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