The following post contains all of my relevant feelings about Glee. As of September 2011, I do not anticipate blogging about this show again. Ryan Murphy done me wrong one time too many. I would never command anyone to stop watching a show, but I don’t think it deserves any more of my energy. I have been known to get literally upset during in-person Glee arguments before, and it was time for me to call it quits for my own sanity. I welcome your comments, but you are not going to change my mind.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, I must get this off my chest:
I am an ex-Gleek.
Given my unabashed love for all things Broadway, you shouldn’t be surprised. I also love high school dramedies, goofy pop covers, and Darren Criss. Really, it’s no wonder it took me until “Rumors” (Season 2 Episode 19, The One Where That Blonde Guy Is Poor) to give up in a huff. I actually haven’t even seen the return of Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff) except for the “Rolling In The Deep” clip. And I don’t even care.
Those of you who have always been feminists or annoyed by this show are no doubt wondering what took me so long. Those of you who are obsessed with this show are no doubt wondering why I’m a humorless, self-righteous witch. That’s fine. I’m pretty used to straddling that divide. :-p
The thing is, Glee had so much potential. The first half of Season One was witty, irreverent, campy, and GOOD. It was deliberately making fun of not just High School Musical but all the teen dramas that had come before it as well as all those Inspirational Teacher films like Freedom Writers. (BTW, I hear that’s a decent movie, but the book was boring. Stand and Deliver is 1000 times more interesting.) It seems pretty clear it was originally intended for adults, not high schoolers. Back then it didn’t matter that half the cast looked 25 or there were too many people to keep track of. Glee was like that sarcastic gay dude you skipped classes senior year with, the one who taught you how to smoke cigarettes and hold your liquor and could do a flawless Barbra impersonation at the drop of a hat.*
*My sarcastic gay friend was straightedge, and so was I.
Thing is, Glee got popular and Ryan Murphy got self-involved. Reportedly that’s happened on his previous shows as well. It stopped being about clever cruelty and cute covers and started being about BEING GLEE. The writing got schizophrenic and the guest stars started rolling In. Also, they started doing After School Specials that were neither clever nor properly moral-ed. I maintain that the only two guest stars who were worth it are Kristin Chenoweth as April Rhodes and John Stamos as Emma’s Hot Dentist Husband. And you’ll notice both of them had actual character arcs. Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t count because she’s awful. Actually awful. What’s the point of singing Cee-Lo Green if you’re going to do the radio edit?
Basically, when the show started really sucking I started noticing all of the -isms going on. They’d always been there under the surface (or maybe openly in the name of satire), but Fox is the channel that has the Simpsons and Family Guy, so for a while I accepted it as part of the package with my primetime Broadway entertainment.
Then, “Blame It On The Alcohol” (Season 2 Episode 14) happened.
It is actually surprising how long it took me to find a full version of this scene:
Yes, he is.
Oh, you’re still with me? Awesome. I honestly don’t have too much to say about that scene; I think if you read it with a feminist lens it’s pretty self-explanatory. The clip is pretty funny if you haven’t noticed that ALL the guys are “normal” and ALL the girls are not, and it also does a good job of illustrating each Glee girl’s character arc. Already we see the signs of what’s going to come for Santana — she’s probably more upset that Sam is kissing HER Brittany than the other way around — and this is one of the rare moments in which Quinn remembers that time when she had a baby.
So yeah, the real problem with the “drunk girls scene” — which is very interestingly titled by the YouTube up loader as “Guys get drunk – Glee” — is not that it’s poorly written. It’s actually really cleverly written. It’s just massively insulting to women and feminists anywhere. It is irrelevant whether or not I, a female viewer, can hold my alcohol. The only guy who got actually wasted in that scene was Blaine, who is gay. And he’s Darren Criss, and he’s adorable, and he made out with Rachel for the fangirls. So he almost doesn’t count.
Ugh. I get annoyed every time I think about it. Screw you, Glee.
Oh, ALSO Artie is a total sexist. Sometimes bordering on misogynist. If the show ever acknowledged how problematic his statements are instead of making them the default, I’d almost commend them for making the disabled kid so unlikable. He’s attractive, has the best voice on the show (other than Lea Michele), and is doing a great job for busting disability stereotypes. Season One Artie was hilarious (“But I want to be very clear. I still have full use of my penis”) and underdeveloped. Season Two Artie never took Brittany seriously as a human being — just a dumb but goodnatured pair of boobs and hair that liked him. What teenage boy doesn’t want that? He couldn’t handle a real girl: Tina. By the time Brittany became a real character, their relationship was failing. And don’t give me that “but he cared about the waitress” crap. He cared about a Mom Surrogate. Not about a woman.
Things I’m Going To Miss
Tinatinatinatinatina. I’ma let Dr She Bloggo explain. For aural evidence:
— Mike Chang.
DO YOU EVEN UNDERSTAND HOW IMPOSSIBLE IT IS TO FIND A HOT ASIAN MAN ON YOUR TV SCREEN? Extra points for making him a FOB (Fresh Off Boat) and not understanding why American-born Tina hates being “the Asian couple”. Glee is still racist, so I don’t support them fully. But Harry Shum, Jr. always makes me smile.
— Puck/Lauren Zizes.
What an excellent pairing. Puck’s character has gone from being the archetypal Dumb Jock Friend to becoming a completely real person. It’s a shame none of the permanent female cast members were allowed such growth. Before Zizes came along, I totally shipped Puck/Rachel, because Puck is interestingly flawed, and talented, and respects Rachel as a person, and more attractive (without the mohawk), and has hilarious lines about being Jewish. Puck’s way more in touch with his religion than Rachel, by the way. I’m fine with that, because that’s totally typical for small-town high school without much of a community. It’s obvious that Puck is Reform and that he’s a Momma’s Boy in the best of ways. The fact that they cut Zizes out of Season Three makes me regret my decision to boycott even less.
That clip was sung by Mercedes, but since Lauren Zizes can’t sing, we’ll just have to make do.
We have already established my fondness for straight white blonde dudes, but I actually was never attracted to Sam. I think nobody gave Chord Overstreet enough props for being the New Kid On The Block. He was supposed to be Kurt’s romance, but they made the story more interesting by picking Blaine, which I support. Chord got completely overshadowed by Darren, who already had a built-in fan base from A Very Potter Musical. He is kind of weird looking, which they made fun of almost every episode. He had to dye his hair a stupid color. They only ever gave him character development as an afterthought.
Sam got dumped by the Hot Blonde for the Cheating Asshole Quarterback (I hate you, Finn Hudson) and the Hot Latina was using him as a beard. He has body dysmorphia (see the Rocky Horror episode and his worries about the costumes). He’s talented, but he kept getting passed over for solos (in and out of the club) by the guy who can’t sing. And remember that time they decided to make him “poor” and then get rid of him? Sam was part of the massive Character Bloat of Season Two, which would have been totally fine if they had responsible writers. And it’s pretty insulting to throw a season’s worth of characterization at him in one episode and give us almost no time to digest it. AND then axe his character in response to all the criticism. Sam’s more interesting than Finn any. day.
Nobody likes this pairing but me. But I remember the goofy blonde dork who spoke to her in Na’avi (or however the hell you spell it; I don’t care) and thought that Quinn finally had a chance with a boy who wasn’t awful to her. Who seemed to like her for superficial reasons that had nothing to do with social status. Plus their voices actually meshed well together, which Dianna has trouble with. (Did you know she literally has a deviated septum? That’s why she’s so nasal.)
OK, no, hear me out. I mean platonically. As beards. Both of them are narratively more interesting than anyone else in Glee club (except for Sam and Tina, who are shown having thoughtful responses to events), and the vagaries of their sexual orientation turmoil are much more familiar and poignant than Kurt’s narrative is at this point. Glee makes a big point of Lima, OH being a small town until it’s inconvenient. Congrats, hooray, Kurt Came Out. Very few gay kids in unsupportive communities can expect that kind of support or self-confidence. I don’t want Karofsky to be fully redeemed, and the number of fangirls who support Kurt/Karofsky is literally appalling (as is the romantic pairing), but I’ll miss watching him grow. And I love Miss Lima-Heights-Adjacent. How could you not?
Will is repellent in every way. I am very, very, very angry at Glee for engaging in such virgin-shaming in Season Two. It’s abhorrent, and it was terribly handled, and I hate Gwyneth Paltrow in real life and on my TV screen. She isn’t worth the amount of vitriol I have for her, but I hated her character. She wasn’t funny or interesting, and she ruined everything she touched. No sympathy.
John Stamos the Hot Dentist cared about Emma as a person. No, they shouldn’t have gotten married, but he was great for her. In all the ways. Emma has very, very real mental health concerns entirely separate from her virginity, and had she not been in love/lust with Will, John Stamos could have supported her. I don’t see Emma as a real person, since she’s actually a convenient plot device with a great ensemble (like so many female characters on Glee), so I’m not angry at her. I’m angry at Ryan Murphy for getting rid of John Stamos, although he was probably glad not to be signed to a full year’s contract.
Matthew Morrison is not unattractive, but seriously, what kind of lock does Will have on Emma’s vagina that she passed up John Stamos for him? Girl, it’s too late to check yourself, because you already wrecked yourself.
–Burt Hummel, Kurt’s Father
He wins the Cliff Huxtable award for the Internet Generation. He also deserved an Emmy as much as Chris Colfer did; it’s his performance and character arcthat I think is so poignant and important for the millions of viewers, adults and children. As an Ally, his is the only character I don’t find problematic. (And it’s not because he’s straight, guys. STFU.)
— The “Baby” cover.
Tina is right; it’s actually a REALLY good song. There’s a reason it has 625 million hits on YouTube, and it’s not just because of the Beliebers.
Anyway, this parody is one of the reasons I’m really sad Sam is gone. (One more reason not to watch, as if I were keeping track.) The reaction shots are excellent, and it makes perfect sense that high school boys would look at Bieber fever and try to do something about it. And if you can’t beat ’em…
The best counter to politically correct anti-ableism on television, and the last living remnant of Season One’s wit.
WARNING: the following video will melt your heart.
— “Duets” Season 2, Episode 4
The only episode in which I agreed with the whole thing. All of the characterization made sense, all of the covers were great, it was funny, and it progressed the show. A+
— “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Season 2, Episode 5
I’m not a Rocky fanatic, so except on the level of why the hell did they do this it makes no sense whatsoever, I actually enjoyed it. Except for Mercedes (who they always screw up), they did a pretty decent job. As a high school drama club alum (whose school actually had a pretty large budget for this stuff), I am offended by their “final” performances as a rule, so I’m linking to a rehearsal one. If you avoided this episode, check out the reaction shots and you’ll see why I like it.
And I’ve already told you how much I hate Will/Emma, but this was too well-done not to repost:
Ladies and gentleman, has any primetime show with so many teenage viewers ever had 2:45 seconds of the O-face on screen before? I mean, really.
There is nothing good about her character, so I have nothing to say about her. Reportedly she gets an actual boyfriend in Season Three, as if that were the sole cause of all her problems. I hate you, Ryan Murphy.
I’m A Feminist But I Can’t Quit This Show Just Yet
I feel you. My “deal breaker” came in episode 13 but it took me until episode 19 to actually stop, although I was fast-forwarding through scenes like crazy at that point.
Dr She Bloggo is better at this than I am. If you must keep up, read her recaps, analyses, and projections. It’s much healthier for both of us.
Highlights: “How Quinn Fabray Could be the Best Character on Glee (And Why She Isn’t)“; “On Brittana“, and “The Glee Fan’s Lament”
On Those Awful Photo Shoots.
And just when you think they’ve all learned their lesson, this happens. Shame on you, HeMo. I looked up to you. Shame on me for thinking you had integrity.
How To Fill The Void/Replacement Shows:
The High School Musical franchise is actually pretty hilarious. Corbin Bleu and Ashley Tisdale are their breakout stars (the Zefron was going to be famous no matter what), and Lucas Grabeel deserves much more attention than he got. What is he doing now? Why isn’t he more famous? I”ll blog about HSM one day. If you’re willing to give it an honest chance, please youtube the music video “I don’t dance” from HSM2; there are too many links in this post already.
Smash — coming to NBC in January 2012
I’m worried that this show will break my heart. I’ve been hurt so many times before.
State of Georgia, the new ABC Family Raven-Symone vehicle.
Get over your bias. She’s calmed down her acting, and her best friend, the Skinny Blonde, is an awkward physics grad student. YOU HEARD ME. I’ve only seen the pilot; thank G-d someone’s put the whole season up on YouTube.
What This Boycott Means To Me
I will be boycotting all episodes, music videos, and songs from this show. I will refuse free access to concerts, movies, and merchandise. If I happen to be in front of a television when it is on, I will change the channel or leave the room. I will not watch anything else Ryan Murphy produces. I will not (and this is hard) buy the Warblers a cappella album. They don’t deserve my money.
Glee-Related Careers I Still Support:
Darren Criss, Lea Michele (shut up; she was a diva before you knew about her), Harry Shum, Jr; Jane Lynch, Naya Rivera, Lauren Potter, Jenna Ushkowitz, Chord Overstreet, Max Adler. Everyone else was a guest star/not important enough to the show to count. Or I find their off-Glee persona problematic or annoying or boring.
I will pay attention to non-Glee things they do because the aforementioned people are talented and personable and interesting. I just won’t cover anything to do with their Glee persona.
Please release Darren from Hell ASAP
One Last Thing
If you still don’t believe that Glee is written and produced by sexist virgin-shamers, ask yourself this: why is it acceptable/endearing/fitting that Kurt is a naive virgin but problematic/funny/absurd that Rachel, Emma, and Coach Beiste are?
I rest my case.
The High Holidays start next week, so expect my posting schedule to be erratic for a while. I still plan to have some form of content posted here once a week. And there’s always short-form opinions on the tumblr.
Comments on Season One and Two are welcome. Go ahead and watch Season Three if you like, but I’m not really interested in hearing about it.