This week on Glee: Alcoholism, coping with loss, and…body positivity?
I’ve kind of given up on discussing a lot of the problematic aspects of the show; you either think that, say, alcoholism is an acceptable subject for joking, or you don’t. You either find this kind of humour appealing, as many critics do, or you don’t. And I don’t really feel the need to pick through every single Glee episode pointing out all the problems. You either saw them or you didn’t. Ultimately, it’s a matter of taste.
And you either think that people internalise harmful things from Glee, or you don’t. I do think it’s worth exploring why some viewers are so resistant to criticisms of Glee. I, for example, really don’t give a fig if people like or don’t like the show. I have no interest vested either way and, as I’ve said repeatedly, I don’t think that people who like the show are terrible people who are clearly not sensitive at all to social justice issues. Or even that their reading of the show is invalidated by my own. But I do think it’s interesting that so many people who love the show seem to have such an intense need to prove people like me wrong. We’re ‘wrong’ because we don’t like the show. Our relation of the show to our lived experiences is ‘wrong’ because it doesn’t match their own lived experiences. It’s not enough to recognise that, hey, Glee is not for everyone.
No. The critique needs to be invalidated. I cannot believe the amount of pushback I have gotten which basically amounts to ‘you’re wrong for not liking the show.’ I think that, if you’re one of those people who insists that people who dislike Glee (for whatever reason they dislike it) are wrong, you need to do some self examination. (And not in my comments section, please.)
So. This week we have Kurt and his unrequited love for Finn, Kurt trying to fix up his dad and Finn’s mom to further that, Finn finding a father figure, and Kurt being filled with bitterness. I can’t say I was a huge fan of this subplot. Finn, as usual, came off like a self absorbed butthat, and Kurt quite frankly came across as deeply creepy. ‘We’ll share a room,’ he says, leering. Uh, I don’t know about you, but when people are obviously not into me and especially when their attraction orientation makes them specifically not attracted to people like me, I really don’t see the need to force the point. You’re either into me…or you’re not.
And, you know, way to make Finn’s mom seem, basically, like an object. She’s a thing that inhabits the house and has no feelings or sexual desires, existing solely to keep her son happy. At least Kurt’s dad is allowed to be a person who, you know, runs a business and does things.
On to the body positivity, which I’ve seen a lot of people mentioning.
In a show which relies on hipster -isms as much as Glee does, moments like the scene between Mercedes and Quinn just end up feeling really clumsy, fake, and forced. Which is a pity, because I really wanted to like that scene. Quinn talks about perceiving Mercedes as someone who ‘always seems really at home’ in her body, which I think is true. Her character does seem really at home in her body, filled with confidence, and happy to be who she is. This episode gave us a little glimpse into how fragile that can be, and the price that people have to pay for that confidence. On a show that’s not Glee I think that scene would have really resonated, but the show feels so one note most of the time that this was just jarring.
In the context of this show, it just felt so…saccharine. Cloying. Painfully earnest. Glee is a show that is based on a brand of humour which revolves around belittling people, making fun of them, and using people in marginalised bodies as objects and plot devices. We’re supposed to laugh at it because we’re supposed to view these acts as ludicrous, but how are we supposed to respond to Mercedes singing ‘I Am Beautiful’ from within the context of a show which repeatedly tells us just the opposite? That she’s a figure of mockery because of her colour and size, that she belongs on the margins because of who she is? I know that some viewers read the show’s brand of humour as breaking down these beliefs, but I don’t read it that way and I haven’t encountered a lot of people outside social justice communities who read it that way.
The solo ends with all the odd ones out in the middle of the floor with Mercedes, which to me seems to underscore that they are the other. I would have been more impressed with the ‘inclusive’ nature of a solo which ended with the entire school there in solidarity, rather than the ‘weird’ people on display for everyone to goggle at. And the reporter’s praise at the end read like Glee patting itself on the back. ‘You’ve got every shape and size!’
Oh, Glee, could you be any more smug and self-congratulatory? Oh, yes, I suppose you can and will be, in the very next Very Special Disability Episode. Which is ‘Dream On,’ coming up in three weeks, and, yes, it will be directed by Joss Whedon.
Mr. Schuester’s former high school nemesis (guest star Neil Patrick Harris) causes trouble for the glee club. Rachel struggles with a life-long personal issue, and Artie struggles with his desire to walk, imagining himself dancing with the rest of the Glee club. Artie’s dreams take him on an adventure.
I used to have nightmares about Joss Whedon directing a Very Special Disability Episode of Glee, and now they are coming true. Normally Whedon’s dream-state episodes are my all time faves (thinking of ‘Restless’ and ‘The Attic,’ although ‘The Attic’ was actually directed by Jed and Maurissa, Joss clearly had a hand in it), but I suspect that this one may actually cause me physical pain.
Remind me not to talk about any of my other nightmares publicly because I’m pretty sure that the world is not yet ready to handle the one with the…thing. *shudders*