In Glee‘s fourth season finale, “All or Nothing,” the New Directions kids head to Regionals while Kurt and Blaine head to dinner with…Meredith Baxter and Patty Duke? As previously reported, Baxter, most famous for her role in the ’80s sitcom Family Ties, and Duke play a lesbian couple who crosses paths with the teenage twosome. “Jan, Patty Duke, meets Blaine in a jewelry store and says, ‘Why don’t you come have dinner with us?'” Baxter explains, which gives a chance for the younger couple to get a peek at what commitment looks likes years down the road. “We just talk. We represent a couple that’s been together for many decades.”
We spoke with Baxter about her character’s short but pivotal scene, possibilities for season five, and what all that talk of a possible proposal means, really. One thing we now for sure: She doesn’t sing — but would like to!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How’d you get the role?
MEREDITH BAXTER: They came to me, which is always the best way — that I was their choice. It was just presented to me and I was told that Patty Duke would be my partner and it was for Glee and they didn’t really need to say anymore. I was in.
Did you know about Glee or Ryan Murphy before? Had you met?
Oh, I’d seen maybe a few episodes. I’m certainly aware of the show and I’ve seen it a few times. And I think I’ve been at a party where Ryan was, but by no means are we friends and I don’t even know if we engaged with each other. But I certainly know who he is and what he can do and I think he’s phenomenally talented.
Did you see a script or just the pitch?
They pitched me the role and I said,”I’m in,” and then they sent it to me. That’s faith.
What was your reaction when you got it?
I was delighted. The women get to explain to Blaine and to Kurt what their entire scope of their relationship was. The boys asked, “Well did you guys go to the prom together?” Because, you know, I’m 65 so when I went to the prom it was a different landscape then when these kids are going to proms now, so we say, “But we had to go with boys and we had to put on a charade.” We didn’t have representation in the schools. There were no gay-straight alliances. They didn’t have safe areas for gays to go to. They didn’t have teachers you could talk to. There was no discussion about it at all. Sometimes someone would be pointed out as a pariah, but beyond that there was no openness at all. Just wasn’t the time. And that’s changed so much.
When you take on a part like this, especially because you play an influential role with the show’s gay teens, were you conscious of wanting to make a statement?
I’m on Glee, I don’t have to make a social statement. It’s done. They are doing their jobs right there and just by being able to talk about how far we’ve come and being an example of that to these young boys, that’s a social statement and you don’t have to walk with a limp or have a squinty eye to show, “Oh, I’m gay. That’ll set me apart.” People are just gay. It’s a sense of normalcy: “Oh, look they’re just a couple. They’re just people, like everybody else.”
Tell me a bit about the relationship that you and Patty have with Kurt and Blaine and working Darren and Chris?
They were absolutely darling. I will tell you something: I’d forgotten that Darren did this, that he went on Wikipedia and he added to my profile saying something about us doing Glee. I forgot that people can go on and write whatever they want on someone’s page, so I’m hoping that he did right by me.
Have they talked about a possible plan going forward? Because the rumor is that you and Patty will stay on for next season.
Well you promote that rumor! I don’t know anything about it. No one’s spoken to me about that.
We know there’s a proposal coming up in the finale and the fans are hoping it’s between Blaine and Kurt…
I think the way you posed that indicates it should be a secret, so you’ve given yourself away there, m’dear.
What do you hope the reaction is to your scenes with Duke?
I would hope that people are saying, “Oh, there’s people here who didn’t start high school in the 2000s. This is a mature couple. Look at these people.” You don’t have a lot of mature couples on television, gay or straight, so I think it’s nice to put the other end of the spectrum, to flesh it out and say that the populace is much larger than you might think.
What’s one moment in the dinner that has you really excited?
I can’t tell you!
But there is a moment, you just can’t tell me what it is?
Yes, there are several things that happen that are very exciting and I can’t tell you.
Glee‘s season finale airs Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.