As much as it may be in-vogue to snicker about the death of broadcast television thank-you-very-much-Emmy-telecast, we sometimes forget what a powerful medium it is.
In the blink of an eye, the small screen in your living room has the ability to get presidents elected, turn unknowns into idols and, perhaps most importantly, alter people’s perceptions.
Just ask DAWSON’S CREEK alum Kerr Smith, whose portrayal of openly-gay high schooler Jack McPhee quite literally changed lives.
“I remember this one kid, he watched that one episode where Jack comes out of the closet to his father, and he told me right after that he walked in the next room and told his parents that he was gay. I don’t know how to feel about that, you know what I mean?” Smith told journalists recently. “That character was quite influential on a lot of kids that were going through the same kinds of issues as Jack. I remember some of the letters I used to get that just made me cry.”
Flash-forward a decade to actor Chris Colfer, who, having never watched DAWSON’S CREEK (“I was too young!”) is in a strikingly similar situation. Playing fashion-conscious triple threat Kurt Hummel, who critics and fans alike have praised as one of GLEE’s break-out characters, Colfer is finding out exactly what it’s like to be a role model for gay teens around the world. And it turns out he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I think Kurt is one of the first characters that isn’t a constant punching bag or punchline,” said the charming actor during an exclusive chat with the TV Addict. “He’s his own character, and one that I haven’t seen anything like on TV. The gay character is aways the one in the background making jokes, they’re never taken seriously. But you’ll see in [tonight’s episode] it’s taken very seriously.”
Titled “Preggers”, the episode — which airs tonight at 9PM on FOX (Global TV in Canada) — serves as Kurt’s official coming out party, complete with choreography, costumes, back-up dancers and an unforgettable performance of Beyonce’s hit “Single Ladies.” For while Kurt has confessed his sexuality to gal pal (and devastated-woulda-been love interest) Mercedes last week, tonight he faces a much bigger hurdle: Saying the words “I’m gay” to his father and dealing with the unexpected fallout.
“Naturally, as an actor I was hoping that Kurt would get kicked out, so that it would be more dramatic. I mean that’s just candy for actors,” joked the actor. “But actually, I am completely happy the way it turned out.” And while he’s not about to spill the details on what happens after the big confession — or whether Kurt might give up his crush on straight-boy Finn in favor of someone able to return his feelings — he did offer up a preview of what’s in store for his alter ego in the weeks to come.
“Kurt will give Rachel a makeover,” Colfer shares, “which as you might imagine, will be a challenge. And he’ll want to sing a song that I don’t want to give away, but they won’t let him because he’s a boy.” In other words, Kurt will face the exact same challenges, triumphs and traumas as his fellow glee clubbers. And like his portrayer, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
GLEE airs Wednesdays at 9PM on FOX (Global TV in Canada)