Glee: The Rhodes Not Taken

She kicked his wheelchair.

She. Kicked. His. Wheelchair.

I’m sorry, I have to say it one more time, for emphasis, before I can discuss this episode: she kicked his wheelchair to push it across the stage as part of a dance number. Kicked. Wheelchair.

Ok, now I can continue.

So, what did we learn during this week’s all-white episode of Glee?

Well, we learned that it’s ok to¬† make fun of alcoholics, especially when they’re all fun-loving and sassy. We also learned that it’s ok to make fun of people with unaddressed psychological issues when a potential gag of a drunk high schooler vomiting presents itself. And we learned, once again, that every man in a relationship is really filled with longing feelings for any person who is not his wife.

I actually really love Kristin Chenowith, so I was excited to see her as a guest star. She’s an amazing singer and she’s a very talented character actress (and actress in general). But I was disappointed to see the character they chose to have her play. The fact is that some people in high school are talented and do end up washing out, and some of them do indeed turn to drugs and alcohol for solace, but I don’t think there’s anything particularly funny about that. Especially since this episode showed Finn struggling with trying to avoid a similar fate.

And, you know, a minor point, living in your home town after high school does not make you a failure. I’m living in (well, near) my hometown, and I’m not a failure, although a lot of people seem to think I am, and believe that my life choices make it appropriate to mock and belittle me. I’m kind of tired of seeing the idea that people who choose to stay in their communities are somehow bad, worthless, or failures.

As usual, Laura beat me to it when it comes to putting up a review, so you can go check out her post for a different take.

Laura pointed out an important issue in this episode: we have April (Chenowith’s character) trying to befriend the members of the Glee Club and leading them astray in the process. Her idea of befriending is getting Kurt drunk so that he will have more courage, and teaching the two minority women in the Glee Club to steal. Which is, you know, pretty problematic on a lot of levels.

Laura’s right that the show does seem to be improving in terms of its problematic nature, but it is definitely not out of the woods yet. My jaw actually dropped when I saw the scene where April kicked Artie’s wheelchair across the stage. So. Icky.

I want to link to this great discussion of ableism on Glee for some further thoughts on the matter. The show may be cleaning up its act in terms of issues like racism (jury’s still out on sexism), but it is shockingly ableist.

3 Replies to “Glee: The Rhodes Not Taken”

  1. Yeah, seriously, she is amazingly awesome. I was so happy she won an Emmy for her work on Pushing Daisies; hate the character, lurve the actress!

  2. My jaw also dropped when April stood on Artie’s wheelchair at the end of the number like he was a prop, again. And despite Kristen Chenoweth’s amazingly problematic character, she did a great job acting it, as always. I heart her so much.

  3. And I only beat you to the review because I have no life outside of television and the internet (ok, that’s a lie, but I didn’t work today, so I had time to watch it and write about it this morning).

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