Glee: Bad Reputation

Sooooooo. How about that scene in which Sue patronisingly pats her sister’s hand as she compares a day’s worth of YouTube comments to a life of being institutionalised because people don’t like to look at you? And tops it off with ‘someone always has it worse off than you.’


How about the scene where Emma is informed that she is ‘crippled by mental illness’ as Sue attempts to manipulate her into humiliating Will in a public location?

During said humiliation, Emma informs Will that she’s ‘trying’ to address her OCD[1. I believe, correct me if I am wrong, that this is the first time she’s specifically identified on the show? And I know that I have said this before, but, as someone with OCD, I find her depiction extremely unrealistic and honestly rather offensive, personally.] to satisfy him. To satisfy him. To make herself an acceptable girlfriend. It’s not about getting treatment for herself as a personal choice, it’s about what she can do to make Will happy, to be deserving of his love. Not that this isn’t a common trope that comes up for people with mental illness(es), especially women, that they should ‘fix’ themselves in order to retain or attract partners. Not that this trope does not subtly imply that people have a responsibility to ‘fix’ themselves if they want to be in relationships.

Well, ok. Maybe they got you with the scene where they used Artie as an A/V cart.

I just…*sighs heavily*. This show’s handling of disability and related issues is so hamfisted and so ignorant that it pains me. I just…so many things stood out to me in this episode and bugged me to a high degree. It’s not even ‘edgy,’ it’s all this stuff that just slips right under the radar and into your mind, without you even being consciously aware of it. You can debate whether or not the show’s grand gestures bust stereotypes and you can talk about how those things are read but you can’t tell me that all of these subtle cuts are serving some sort of function, providing some sort of insight or commentary on society. They’re just not. They’re just quietly presenting certain social attitudes for viewers to swallow whole and regurgitate at some point in the future.

Like, did you know that wheelchair users just can’t dance? At all? That people in long term care facilities sit around in pajamas all the time? These things are not presented in a thought provoking way or a way that is meant to suggest that they are Statements or that there is more than one way to read them. They are quite clearly and unambiguously presented as facts of life.

One thing about this episode that irritated me was that it made Things That Happen On the Internet into a great big joke. Because, let me tell you, Things That Happen On the Internet are unfunny business. Having humiliating videos of you posted on YouTube? Well, sometimes that ends very badly.  Sometimes it ends with suicide. Or abusive people calling and showing up at people’s homes. I feel like Glee contributed to the idea that Things That Happen On the Internet are just ‘drama’ and don’t actually have a real impact on real living people.

Note, too, that it gets turned around; it’s all on the person being humiliated to make lemonade out of lemons or some crap, not on the person doing the humiliating to, uhm, not humiliate people. So people who can’t ‘deal’ with these kinds of things, well, it’s obviously their fault. They’re weak. They just don’t have the will to make things better for themselves, to get over it. They’re taking things too personally. They shouldn’t let it bother them.

Don’t even get me started on the slut shaming plot.

No, really.

That’s all I’ve got this week, folks. I’m going to go watch some television that doesn’t make me want to start gnawing the furniture now.

4 Replies to “Glee: Bad Reputation”

  1. I also believe this was the first time she specifically named OCD as her “problem” or “issue” as she usually refers to it. Also, I did kinda like that she was, in part, calling Will out on the fact that she was doing the therapy for Him instead of herself and recognizing that that part needs to change. But, yea, so not making up for the rest of the fail in there!!

  2. Hey, can I ask about your footnote? I don’t understand why you find her depiction offensive, if it’s realistic. Is it because the part is played by a non-disabled actress (as far as I know)?

    I wish I could comment on the rest, but I haven’t seen the episode yet (in the UK).

  3. Oops, your question made me realise there was a typo in the footnote; I don’t find her depiction ‘realistic,’ I find it unrealistic. It has been corrected and I hope that answers your question!

  4. Yes, that makes much more sense! I was wondering if that’s what you meant!

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