Throughout the duration of the first season of Glee, I thought I may have fallen in love. For the first thirteen episodes at least, show runner Ryan Murphy seemed determined to create an hour long comedy with heart, singing, and fantastically interesting characters. Rachel (Lea Michele) and Finn (Cory Monteith) didn’t look like models playing teenagers; they were awkward, funny and relatable despite the elevated level of reality that Glee survived on.
Season two rolled along, and as a fan, I defended it but started to also watch it privately. That is until Chris Colfer’s Kurt Hummel went from an independent, inspiring gay young man, to fairly quickly a victim, relaying on another boy’s affections to give him credence. That’s when my defense became private as well.
Season three was the year that I went from watching it every week for enjoyment to watching it every week out of that weird obligation fans get with shows. The whole “well I started this damn mess I might as well finish it.”
Then, the fourth started this year, and like many other critics out there, I now don’t understand why I continue to dedicate an hour of my life to this chaotic, often times offensive, mess. Is it ‘hate’ watching? It may be. However, after these past few episodes, there is something that needs to be said. This is not a positive show, and while it’s always had its issues with holding the male, straight characters up to be the guiding light of the series, this past week has had too many problematic storylines to simply keep quiet and stew over.
THE TERRIBLE MESSAGES GLEE IS SENDING YOU
1. Finn/Blaine Hero Worshiping
What, do tell, have Blaine or Finn ever done to deserve such respect and blatant worship from Ryan Murphy and co.? I’ve yet to see the fan mania that surrounds Santana (Naya Rivera) surround Finn; I’ve yet to see Blaine do anything that justifies the distracting amount of favoritism. Both characters are held on such high pedestals because Finn is the straight male and between Blaine and Kurt, Darren Criss who plays Blaine is seen as the more “masculine gay.”
The way in which the show constantly glorifies these two characters’ actions, no matter the ills they’ve performed on their significant others, is simply put offensive, sexist, and going against their pre-conceived notion that their show would be about the underdog.
2. Kurt Cheats = Bad; Blaine Cheats = Just a Mistake
Listen, people make mistakes, screw people over and get screwed in return; it’s a fact of life. However, the way in which the show has gone out of its way to vilify Kurt, all the while showcasing Blaine as the victim of his own mistake, is a terrible message to send out. In season three, if you recall, Kurt sent some texts to a boy, got called out for it, apologized and they moved on. This season Blaine cheats with another boy, is applauded by fans, critics and characters alike of having been put in that situation and is told to forgive himself and realize that he’s not in the wrong.
Because to Ryan Murphy and co., he’s seen as the “catch” of the couple. He’s the one who draws in the preteen girls who think that LGBTQ rights is simply being a part of a following for a gay couple on television; he’s the one who although is gay on the show is played by a straight actor and is therefore more accessible. It’s all politics, and it’s wrong for a show that heralds itself as a forward thinking to succumb to the pressures of the general audience.
3. The Way it Treats Women
It isn’t surprising to say that Glee isn’t a good place to be if you’re a woman character. They’re often given the shaft for the male counterparts, made out to be petty and insecure, or are devious and conniving, and never looking out for the other person. Despite the amount of times the male characters on the show fight and yell and demonstrate their testosterone-fueled feelings, they’re always willing to help the other guy out. Yet, there has been no female friendship on the show that didn’t involve a level of sabotage, competitiveness, or mean spirited behavior. The boys are allowed to be friends, the girl’s only competitors.
I’m not even going to touch the level of offense the eating disorder storyline is causing me.
There’s also the fact that no matter how many times Marley and her mom are made fun of, it’s never them who come to their own defense, but a guy or a group of them. They’re weak, unable of protest and the ability to stand up for themselves and need a strong man to come and save them. The girls on the show are constantly being talked up, given advice or being saved by the male characters.
There have been countless moments where this show has pinged my offensive button: the handling of Santana’s coming out storyline, Karofsky’s (Max Adler) near suicide, Kurt apologizing for Blaine trying to force himself on him, Finn recently calling Sue’s baby the R word, the way in which Tina’s ethnicity dictates her character and the way the show happily plays into racial stereotypes, and most of all, the way that the show congratulates itself on being so forward thinking, pure ignorance blinding themselves from the truth.
This used to be a fun and enjoyable show. Maybe it will slowly get that way again. Until then, it’s important to know that no matter the ads that say this show is progressive, innovative and about the underdog, Glee is no longer any of those things. Watch if you must, but be aware.