Before tonight's episode of Glee even aired, it was attacked by the Parents Television Council for behaving with "gross recklessness" by "celebrating teen sex." (The anti-gay Culture and Media Institute also complained that the show is "stepping up its campaign of homosexual promotion," but attacks from bigots are to be expected with a storyline featuring gay teens.) After reading what seemed like dozens of interviews with Chris Colfer and Lea Michele about how sexy their characters' deflowerment would be, the only thing shocking about "First Time" was how tame it was.
The episode starts on a somewhat sketchy note with Artie pressuring Blaine and Rachel to lose their virginities to improve their performances in McKinley's production of West Side Story. He explains, "As a friend, I support your strange aversion to fun, but as your director I'm concerned." Apparently they feel they don't have the acting skills to simply pretend that they've experienced a sexual awakening, so they start talking with their respective boyfriends about going further sexually. Finn's parents are on the campaign trail, so Rachel, who's vegan, comes over for an unexpectedly meaty dinner. Then she tells Finn she wants to forgo their Sara Lee dessert to fornicate by the fire, but he refuses to go through with it when she mentions that she just wants to get sex out of the way to improve her performance.
Unsurprisingly, the Rachel/Finn scenes aren't all that interesting. As Chris Colfer noted, we've seen straight couples lose their virginity a million times, but this is the "first time you've seen two gay kids lose it to each other." (That probably isn't true, but I can't think of any other homosexual teen sex scenes on a network show.) Aside from the fact that I've been unapologetically smitten with Blaine since he appeared on my screen in a sharp Warblers jacket and managed to make even Train sound good, he and Kurt losing their virginity is far more notable because it's some sort of TV milestone.
While watching Blaine shimmy about his room to Roxy Music, Kurt remarks, "We are playing it very safe by not granting our hands visas to travel south of the equator." Blaine says he's still in favor of taking things slow, adding, "Whatever we do, I want to make sure you're comfortable so I can be comfortable." However, his opinion starts to shift after he meets Sebastian Smythe following a typically delightful performance of "Uptown Girl" by the Warblers. To underscore the writers' stated intention to make Sebastian the male Santana, his flirty conversation with Blaine is intercut with Santana and Rachel rehearsing "A Boy Like That."
Later in an attempt to be more adventurous, Kurt accepts Sebastian's offer to help him and Blaine get into the local gay bar using fake IDs. Scandals turns out to be the saddest (and plaid-est) gay bar ever, but Blaine happily knocks back a beer and dances with Sebastian while Kurt talks with Karofsky about learning to accept his sexuality. While they're getting in the car to leave, Blaine drunkenly pulls Kurt into the back seat and says they should just have sex, but they get into a fight when Kurt says he doesn't want to do it unless Blaine can remember it the next day.
On opening night the kids perform "America" and in the next scene the show is over and Kurt walks in on Blaine rehearsing a step he missed. Blaine apologizes for attempting to grope Kurt in the car, and Kurt says he wanted to be his "gay bar super star," but he's still a "silly romantic." Blaine tells him it's not silly, and they kiss. Then Blaine suggests they go to Artie's after party, but Kurt tells him, "No. I want to go to your house."
Meanwhile, Rachel shows up chez Finn. He's upset because the football recruiter told him he isn't good enough for a scholarship and he feels he'll be stuck in Lima forever. Rachel tells him he just needs to make new dreams, and she'll help him figure it out. She adds, "You're special. You know how I know that? Because I'm going to give you something that no one else is ever going to get." While Rachel sort of makes it sound like her virginity is the consolation prize for not getting a scholarship, in general there's nothing scandalous about her having sex with Finn. They've been together for a long time, they're seniors in high school, and they both talked about using condoms beforehand. Similarly, what we see of Kurt's first time with Blaine is so mild it can barely be called a sex scene. Shots of both couples lovingly gazing at each other in bed are intercut with Blaine and Rachel performing "One Hand, One Heart" on stage.
As usual, there were a few questionable moments in the episode, like when Artie confronts Coach Beist about being a virgin and Brittany suggests someone might have taken advantage of her stupidity to get her to have sex. (Most of Brittany's quips are at least amusing, but her revelation that she lost it "At cheerleading camp. He just crawled into my tent. Alien invasion," just sounded creepy.) However, there's nothing controversial about Rachel, Blaine, and Kurt losing their virginity unless you're homophobic or believe everyone should be totally chaste until marriage. If anything, the sex is too romantic and unrealistic, but that's probably smart when you're trying to show America that there's nothing scary or uncomfortable about gay teens in love.
Tina sums up Glee's stance on teen sex in this episode when she tells Rachel, "Losing my virginity was a great experience for me, because I was with somebody I love." This may upset the Parents Television Council, but teens are having sex. "Celebrating" teens who wait until they're 17 or 18 to have protected sex with a partner that they love doesn't sound like such a bad idea.