Monday, December 14, 2009

Gleek Out!

Well fans, it’s a long haul ‘til April. And now that I have some down time, it’s long over-due for me to post some thoughts about Glee – my latest and greatest television obsession. I’ve been a fan of Ryan Murphy’s work for quite some time, and Glee artfully blends teen melodrama, “high school musical” culture, and sarcasm into sugary-pop goodness that is addictive like saccharine or nicotine. Despite my love of all things Glee, there are a few things now that the fall season has ended that continue to irk me about the series from a critical perspective (I just can’t help it – I’m too tainted to enjoy media on its own ever again).

1) Minority Representation – So, at least there ARE some minorities in the glee club. But their characterizations are so trite they continue to grate on my nerves. Mercedes, while incredibly talented vocally, is a TERRIBLE actress. That and they won’t let her be anything other than a crazy large black diva, which bothers me on a lot of levels. Those who have stood through my rants about American Idol and body image know that large black diva women singers are acceptable caricatures in pop culture, but not larger white women, and not thinner black women. None of the glee club women would be considered “overweight” except Mercedes. The show was a bit better to the Asian women in the final few episodes, but the random black guy and random Asian guy didn’t even have NAMES until the last episode. It was sort of a game Sailor and I would play every time they did a full number, “Who is the random dancing Asian guy for the love of god!?”

2) Musical Staging – I love the music in the show. They’ve done some great mash-ups and re-arrangements of pop standards that are catchy and fascinating. I also like the continual homage to Broadway (which makes sense given that half the cast had a career there before joining the show). What I don’t get is the random musicians that always seem to be available – at glee club practice, or just hanging out (again, nameless people). I’d almost prefer you just layer the tracks over the singing without the random shots of piano guy and string quartet who apparently have nothing else to do at all hours of the school day than burst into song. It’s very distracting, which makes the music less impactful.

3) The Schue Thing – First off, let me clarify that I absolutely adore Mr. Schuester as a character. I empathize with his teachable moments – I mean, seriously, watching him listen to the kids perform through the phone at sectionals brought tears to my eyes. I get the whole “I’m 30 and I didn’t think my life would be here” kind of thing that warrants rethinking yourself and your life goals. What I don’t like is that basically, he’s framed as the innocent bystander to his life. He’s portrayed as a guy who got into a relationship with a horrible person (Terri), thus encouraging all of us to root for the nice girl (Emma). I don’t even disagree that Schue and Emma should be together. What I don’t like is that the whole season basically made excuses for Schue emotionally cheating on his wife while she was pregnant (at least to his knowledge, and to Emma’s as well). It’s frustrating to me as a gender scholar that in the end, Schue comes out of this squeaky clean while Terri is the manipulative, backstabbing bitch, and Emma is the perfect, naïve girl. We’re supposed to interrogate them, not question Schue’s actions throughout the series. Really, if he’d been honest with himself and others from the beginning, then there would have been a lot less hurt going around. So while the romantic in me was like, oh good, they're supposed to be together, the cynic in me is annoyed by the emotional games Schue played with both womens' hearts.

It's a long haul to April, but I guess Idol coming back will keep me in my music fix for now. Super excited that Ellen is replacing Paula (whose commentary over the years has proven to be worthless on so many levels, it was about time to get someone else in here).


  1. great analysis. Mercedes bugs me too. First, her name is MERCEDES, like a car...

    Next her voice, while it is powerful, is severely "one note" she can only sing "black songs". After that her talent ends. She couldn't even sing any other ballad besides 'And I Am Telling You" made famous by the Broadway musical (turned movie) Dream Girls.

    Oh and thank you for commenting on the random musical ensemble who is always just "there". I too find that bery distracting. But perhaps that is a similar homage to Broadway. T.e orchestra is always hidden away, and magically, music begins to play from depths when the actors are ready.

    And while I LOVE Mr. Schue as well, I do agree that he is a bit tainted. I don't believe a married man (who LIVES with his wife) could go that long without realizes his wife is wearing a fake baby bump... unless, of course, that man is a moron.

    Great blog!

  2. sorry for the severe lack of grammatical/ basic English accuracy in the comment above, I typed that comment on my phone... eek!

  3. No wonder why I was so inspired by you as a professor. You're so smart and so right on target!

    Either we think the same, or you taught me well... because I agree on basically every single view point lol.

    And to add, another thing that annoyed me is in total comparison to the Shue/Terri relationship; the Quinn/Finn relationship. He was both emotionally and physically (that time during their picnic on stage) cheating with Rachel. And that was when Quinn really was pregnant lol. Then when he finds that Quinn's baby isn't his it's like "Oh no, poor Finn." Maybe if you told her you cheated on her, she might have told you she cheated on you... I feel you're both even, in my book!

    The show is definitely a love-hate scenario for me. But at the end of the day, I feel that I cannot live without it haha. Thank goodness for American Idol! And I think I might check out the new "Sing-Off" competition too. It always urks me when people on American Idol use instruments and others aren't able to. I've sang my whole life and I cannot, for the life of me, play the guitar or piano; no coordination.

    With that said, I think I'm going to have to follow this blog. Quite interesting, if you ask me!