|Created by||Ryan Murphy
|Portrayed by||Dot-Marie Jones|
|Occupation||High school football coach|
Shannon Beiste, often referred to as Coach Beiste, is a recurring fictional character from the Fox musical comedy-drama series Glee. The character is portrayed by actress Dot-Marie Jones, and has appeared in Glee since its second season premiere "Audition", first broadcast on September 21, 2010. Coach Beiste is introduced as a championship-winning football coach, brought in to make the McKinley High football team successful. She immediately comes into conflict with cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) and glee club director Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), though she and Will eventually become good friends. In her first year, Beiste successfully steers the team to its first championship. When the character returns in the third season, in addition to coaching football, she co-directs the school musical and runs the elections for senior class president. She also starts dating her first boyfriend, Ohio State football recruiter Cooter Menkins (Eric Bruskotter), though she finds herself in competition with Sue for him just as she realizes she loves him. Though she and Cooter eventually marry, Beiste later finds support from Sue when she becomes the victim of domestic abuse.
Jones received Emmy nominations in 2011, 2012 and 2013 for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her work as Beiste in Glee's second, third and fourth seasons respectively. Beiste's season two storyline in the episode Jones submitted for final judging—"Never Been Kissed"—was criticized by many reviewers, though they lauded her acting. Beiste in the third season has been described as "believable and heartfelt", and Jones as "brilliant".
In the second season of Glee, Shannon Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones) is introduced as the new football coach for the McKinley High Titans in the premiere episode, "Audition". She comes to William McKinley High with an enviable record of coaching successful football teams, and Principal Figgins (Iqbal Theba) boosts the football program budget for her by reducing the cheerleading and glee club budgets, which alarms coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) and director Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), respectively, and drives them into a temporary alliance against her. Beiste is dismayed by their rudeness, but forgives Will when he apologizes and goes on to develop a friendship with him. She contemplates resigning as coach upon learning that several students have been fantasizing about her in order to curb their arousal while making out. Will has the students apologize and earn her forgiveness. He also learns that Beiste has never been kissed, which leads to him giving her a first kiss as a friendly gesture. Beiste later helps the glee club members preserve Brittany's (Heather Morris) continued belief in Santa Claus: disguised as Santa, she explains to Brittany why her wish that paraplegic boyfriend Artie (Kevin McHale) be made to walk cannot be granted; later, she anonymously obtains a ReWalk to allow Artie to walk for short periods of time. When antagonism flares between the football team's glee and non-glee factions, Beiste forces the entire football team to work together with the glee club for one week; despite encountering resistance and set-backs, the plan is ultimately successful and the team wins the championship game. During the episode "Blame It on the Alcohol", Beiste takes Will out for a fun time at a rodeo bar where she sings her first lead vocal in a duet with him: "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer".
In the third season, Beiste continues as football coach, and is recruited by Will to co-direct the school musical West Side Story with guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays) and Artie. She orders her football team to play the Jets in the show. She also takes on the task of running the school elections. In the episode "The First Time" she begins dating Ohio State football recruiter Cooter Menkins (Eric Bruskotter), who is scouting for talent at McKinley, but discovers in "I Kissed a Girl" that Sue has become her rival for Cooter's affections just as she comes to realize that she loves him, thus prompting her first solo song, "Jolene". She later tells Emma and Sue, in episode "Yes/No", that she and Cooter have impulsively gotten married. A few months later, in the episode "Choke", she is hit by her husband, Cooter, and given a black eye. Although initially convinced by Sue and Roz Washington (NeNe Leakes) to leave for her own safety, Beiste later returns home and gives Cooter a second chance, though she does ultimately leave him and gives him back her wedding ring. The catalyst for the final break is Puck (Mark Salling), one of her football players and a glee club member. Beiste stops a fight between Puck and another student: Puck is wielding a knife, and she berates him for doing something so stupid. Puck calls himself a loser, and starts crying; she cries with him, saying that no one ever thinks the two of them hurt because they are "badasses", but they do. Beiste arranges for Puck to retake a geography exam he flunked, which is keeping him from graduating high school, and helps him study for it; he passes and graduates. In the interim, Beiste helps chaperone New Directions on their trip to Chicago, where they win the national show choir championship.
Beiste first appears in "The Role You Were Born to Play", helping Finn when he goes looking for a jock to play the lead in the school musical. She continues to advise Finn when he takes charge of the glee club for the duration of Will's stay in Washington while he serves on a blue-ribbon arts panel. She also acts as faculty advisor to the school's superheroes club. When Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Brittany think the Mayan apocalypse is imminent and decide to get married, Beiste offers to marry them, but she makes sure the ceremony she performs is not a legal procedure. When the apocalypse does not happen, they are relieved when she tells them that they are not, in fact, married. Later in the season, after Emma leaves Will at the altar on their wedding day, Beiste reveals to Will that she is falling in love with him, only to find out that Will and Emma have gotten back together. Will asks a hurt Beiste to come to glee club; she does so reluctantly, but as the period begins, two gunshots are heard in the school, and she assists in barricading the choir room, helping to keep everyone quiet, and aiding Will in subduing Sam when he wants to go out and search for Brittany, who was not in the room when the lockdown began. Afterward, she tells Will that he should reach out to forgive Finn, whose role as Will's assistant on the glee club was terminated when Finn admitted to kissing Emma while Will was in Washington, and he does so; Will and Finn ultimately agree to be co-directors of the club going forward.
Finn's death hits Beiste hard, and when Puck comes into the locker room drunk, weeks after the funeral and saying that he is lost without Finn, she tells him he needs to take charge of his life and give himself the advice and guidance he would have gotten from his best friend, and the two cry over their loss. Later, the two gather at Finn's outdoor memorial at McKinley, which includes a tree that Puck had stolen as a memento and later replanted at Beiste's behest, and he tells her that he has decided to join the Air Force.
Shannon Beiste is played by actress Dot-Marie Jones, who first appeared in the second season premiere episode "Audition". Beiste was established immediately as a character who could go toe-to-toe with cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, and as a highly competent football coach with an enviable record of championships. One article described Beiste as a "wounded giant—a 40-year-old who'd never been kissed", and Jones's portrayal of her as "humorous and heart-wrenching".
Jones had previously worked with Glee co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk on Nip/Tuck, and when she encountered Falchuk at a local supermarket she says she told him, "'Write me something', just joking, you know, but not really." Still, she was shocked to hear from her agent two months later that Murphy had done so. She knew very little about the role initially: "When I signed my contract, it didn't even have a character name—just two quotation marks."
Jones was a student and professional athlete—she played several sports in high school, received a track scholarship to Fresno State University, came in sixth in shot put at the 1988 Olympic trials and "won 15 world arm wrestling championships"—and for the role she drew on her experience from having worked "four and half years in lockdown at the Juvenile Hall in Fresno with adolescent offenders".
In her acting career, Jones has "played every tough chick possible", and in early 2012 described the role of Beiste as one "where I still get to be the tough coach, but be vulnerable, have heart and have a love interest".
In Beiste's first episode, "Audition", The Wall Street Journal's Raymund Flandez wrote that she was "the most interesting character so far", and one "whose comedic range is as maniacal as Coach Sue", and Amy Reiter of The Los Angeles Times said she was "played with a perfect blend of brutishness and grace" by Jones. In Beiste's fourth appearance, for the episode entitled "Never Been Kissed", her storyline was met with criticism, though the acting of Jones was not. Reiter questioned why Beiste was made to look to high school students to "gauge her own desirability", an element she found "hazy and creepy". James Poniewozik of Time criticized the depiction of Beiste as an object of pity, and felt that Will's behavior was worse than the students' when he acted with "amazing condescension" and kissed her. Both Poniewozik and MTV's Aly Semigran disliked the way viewers were made complicit in Beiste's humiliation by being invited to laugh at her expense, and Linda Holmes of NPR criticized Glee for denying Beiste dignity, with the observation that such a plot would never have been given to Kurt. Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club commented negatively on the way Glee plays up Beiste's "masculine nature" while simultaneously lecturing viewers against mocking her. He called the kiss "somehow both heartfelt and completely horrifying". IGN's Robert Canning praised Jones in her "best performance this season", as well as Beiste's "raw and real" confession to Will.
Joel Keller of AOLTV complimented Jones in "A Very Glee Christmas" for "shining in this storyline" as Coach Beiste: "Her scene as Santa, and then her knowing expression as she watched Artie walk, were the best moments of the episode." The Atlantic's Patrick Burns agreed: Beiste's "performance as the Santa Claus bearer of harsh reality was quite moving. It's nice to see her get to show her acting chops and refreshing to see her character's vulnerability." Poniewozik also agreed, and said Jones "has been remarkable", "taking every ridiculous moment Glee has thrown at her and finding the true emotion at the core of the absurdity, which is what Glee at its best does." A similar sentiment was expressed by VanDerWerff in his review of the following episode, "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle": "I also like Coach Beiste because she’s one of the few characters who seems to grasp how insane some of this is. I always like when a show that frequently goes over the top introduces someone who’s able to undercut some of that ridiculousness."
Reviewers have been similarly pleased with third-season performances. In the fifth episode, "The First Time", Poniewozik credited Jones as Beiste with "stunning work", and John Kubicek of BuddyTV said Beiste's "fragile lack of self-esteem" was "believable and heartfelt" and that Jones was "brilliant". Her first solo song was in the seventh episode, "I Kissed a Girl": Dolly Parton's "Jolene". It was called "haunting" by Vanity Fair's Brett Berk, who gave it four stars out of five, and Michael Slezak of TVLine graded it an "A–" and said it was a "killer use of Dolly Parton" even if "Beiste isn’t the strongest vocalist". Both Kubicek and Rolling Stone's Erica Futterman noted a lack of emotion in Beiste's voice, but they also noted the emotion in her face, which Kubicek said "more than made up for it".
Jones received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her work as Beiste in Glee's second season, and submitted her performance in the episode "Never Been Kissed" for final judging. She was one of three actresses from the show to be nominated in that category in 2011; the victor was another Glee nominee, Gwyneth Paltrow. She was also part of the Glee cast ensemble that was nominated in December 2011 for the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series award at the 18th Screen Actors Guild Awards. In 2012, Jones was nominated for an Emmy again, the only actor from Glee nominated that year. Jones was nominated again for the 2013 season, the only actor from Glee to be nominated alongside Jane Lynch. She is the only actor on the show to be nominated for an Emmy every year since her introduction.
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