Laura at Adventures of a Young Feminist also has reviewed “Preggers,” and you might want to check her take out (it includes a recap, which I am too lazy to do).
So, let’s talk about “Preggers.” I will say this for Glee: it is getting better. Slowly. There are a lot of serious problems, but there were also some really great notes this episode. There was a lot less casual racism, a lot less wannabe edgy hipster bullshit, and a lot more of the kind of tone I like in my television, which is incisive and critical without needing to specifically say it. I’m still having issues with a lot of the characterization, but I think they are hitting the smaller issues a lot better.
Like, I’ve finally started getting more into Sue’s characterization. That segment on caning was, well, priceless, I think is the best word. She’s ruthless and vicious and I think it’s being played in a way that I am really starting to enjoy. She’s moving beyond the kind of plastic character I really didn’t like and becoming an actual, fully realized person.
Something else I loved in this episode: the gay storyline. The episode opens with Kurt rocking out with some fellow Glee Clubbers to that Beyonce Song (“Single Ladies”? I’m too lazy to look it up. Laziness is a theme tonight.) Kurt’s father storms in, and our immediate read is that he’s homophobic and possibly racist. And then, at the end of the episode, we have Kurt coming out to his father, and his dad being pretty chill about it.
Which, you know, on the one hand, awesome, but on the other, kind of minimizes the terror of the moment. Coming out is scary, even if you think that your parent/s will be accepting, and I say this from personal experience. I think that to balance that out, they had the scenes with the football team in which gay jokes were made and specifically Kurt was threatened with death if he failed. This was an example of how the show is improving: I don’t think that those were supposed to be read as funny or amusing. They were supposed to be read as uncomfortable, scary, and hurtful, and they were. Kurt’s dad was sort of the model of, you know, what you should do if your kid is gay, while the football team was, you know, what actually happens when you are gay in high school. Well, until the heartwarming dance number, anyway.
Another plot which I found interesting was the one with Tina and Rachel. Rachel, whom I am really starting to dislike because she’s entitled, manipulative, and whiny (I WANT IT MORE!!!), wants the part of Maria from West Side Story, which has been awarded to Tina. We see Tina practicing, thinking she has done badly, and quitting to give it up for the white girl. Only, snap, in the scene which is supposed to showcase Rachel’s triumph, Will still awards the part to Tina, insisting that she perform it, and Rachel quits and storms out in a huff. (Good riddance, I say.)
I wasn’t such a fan of the special snowflake action, the “everybody’s a winner” thing, but I liked that Will refused to let Rachel bully him, and that he insisted on giving Tina a chance. I think he sees potential in Tina, and wants to bring that out in her, and I liked that a plot that started out as “minority, once again, appeases white girl” turned into “minority kicks ass.” It underscored what Laura has identified as one of the key themes of the show, which is that you can be yourself, and you should be proud of that.
As Laura pointed out, it did kind of suck that none of the other minority characters got much screen time. It does seem like the show is relegating them to B plots, and that apparently only one or two get showcased at a time. Last week was the Black girl’s turn, this week was the white gay boy and the Asian girl. But, in all fairness, maybe I am being oversensitive here; when you have a show with an ensemble cast, you can’t focus on the entire ensemble at once. And, for better or for worse, the white characters are the leads, so they are pretty much guaranteed plot lines every episode. It would be nice to see the minority characters taking an A storyline, or even an all-minority episode, though.
Kathy pointed out in Laura’s comments that the women on the show are all portrayed as manipulative, which is, you know, definitely a problem. It’s something I’ve noticed too, and it’s something that a lot of people are complaining about, with good reason. I’m really hoping that this changes as the series progresses, in a way which doesn’t turn into “object lesson for the deceitful lying bitch.” All of the women are problematic, from Terri, Will’s wife, who is persisting in faking a pregnancy because she’s convinced he will leave her otherwise, to Quinn, who’s pretending to be pregnant by Quinn because she thinks he will take care of the baby. Yee haw, let’s stereotype pregnant women!
However, I would like to point out that it’s all the white women who are manipulative. Now, one could chalk this down to “we hardly see the minority characters so they don’t have much of a chance to be manipulative,” but I do think it’s an important thing to note.
I also actually kind of like that Quinn is using the old canard about getting pregnant in a hot tub. It’s a classic line that gets repeated in abstinence education, and it’s obviously false, but, you know, a lot of people do think that. So I think it was kind of clever, actually, to use it in the storyline, as a nod to abstinence-only culture and the, you know, serious flaws with that kind of education. Finn believes it because he doesn’t know any better, and I find that a tragic indictment of sex ed in this country.
If it sounds like I’m suddenly all up on Glee, I’d like to point out that I didn’t miss the ableist joke about the School for the Deaf in the locker room. Trust me, readers, the jury is still firmly out on this one.