Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kiss this

Oh, Glee. You are like that crazy best friend who usually makes you do ridiculous things, but then sometimes surprises you with insights. That and who won’t stop singing. The thing about this show is it often makes no sense. It’s not about linear storytelling or realistic character development. But that doesn’t make it bad necessarily, it just makes it different. I enjoy Glee for specific reasons – unabashed escapism, fantasy fodder, jazz hands. Yet, in other ways it is the most sneakily subversive show on television. While it wears its outsider status proudly, it’s still just really an awkward gay kid struggling to make it through another day any way it can.

Its popularity makes it an easy target. But criticizing the show because of its lack of sophisticated narrative is like shooting fish in a barrel. Of course it doesn’t, that’s not the point. Does that drive a person crazy sometimes? Yes, like what kind of school allows a full-grown man and teacher to perform sexily alongside his underage students? Where is the money for their elaborate costumes keep coming from? Who plays the steel drums in high school? But we keep watching for the fabulosity and the unequivocal championing of the underdog. I’m not a fan of the “A Very Special Episodes” because I think the message is often too heavy handed. And, yes, parts of this week’s “powerful new Glee” were indeed heavy-handed and even cringe-worthy (all that girls like it when you’re mean to them stuff – really?) But parts were unexpected and, dare I say it, deeply moving.

A reviewer recently called Kurt Hummel the most important character on television right now, and he may well be right. While we’ll never be able to scientifically quantify the impact of seeing an out actor play an out high school student with the grace and power of Chris Colfer, make no mistake, it matters. It matters to a scared gay teen who gets tormented in the hallways every day. It matters to the gay adult who finally gets to see his or her adolescence replayed to them on the television. It makes a difference because we love Kurt, we hate his pain, we want things to get better.

The look on Kurt’s face when he sees the all-boys school utopia of tolerance? Heart melting. The look on Kurt’s face when his closeted bully slams him into the locker once again? Heartbreaking.

The homophobic bully who turns out to be a scared homosexual in particular was effective. Sure, it’s been done before. But as every scandal about a bigoted senator/pastor/whathaveyou who turns out to be secretly gay proves, often the roots of homophobia come from deep-seated self hatred.

In the episode’s secondary never-been-kissed storyline, poor Coach Beiste is everyone’s “cooler.” Dot Jones is lovely, bringing layers of sensitivity to what might otherwise be a one-note role. I actually wanted Mr. Shue to kiss her. She deserves it (in fact, she deserves better – Mr. Shue is kind of a tool).

The thing is, Glee needs to work on a lot of things. And there are a million storylines that make me want to go get a sandwich (Finn/Rachel, Sam/Quinn, and for the love of God, stop having Artie say “Yo!”) But when it gets things right, I’m proud to watch. Those leather pants the girls wore last night really didn’t hurt either. Also, Grilled Cheesus, do I love Brittana. (Much more on how much I heart them here.)

p.s. I reserve the right to take back everything I just said if Ryan Murphy puts Brittany and Artie together. I’m serious, I will burn the place down.

p.p.s. Dude, Kurt had 124 unread messages? He is worse than me.

21 comments:

VICTOR said...

Glee does not get everything right, because we expect a lot from it. But when it does, oh boy, I want to call myself a fan.

Norma Desmond said...

I proudly call myself a viewer of this show. Fan? Well, not sure I'd go that far, but still... Because, yes, it is doing so many important things. Do people notice? Yeah, I think they do. But the important part is that they keep watching. And I think that's a very important step towards equality. If you can just get people to listen, maybe you can get them to listen long enough to actually hear you.

Anonymous said...

Dorothy, are you not furious that they just dropped the Brittana story line, just like that!!???

Now they have Santana making batty eyes at Puck. Why is it ok for gay boys to have legit feelings but not gay/bi girls? why are they considered just slutty and stupid??

rachel's life. said...

Ah we have to wait until next year to get the latest season of Glee on our UK screens. Unfair! I LOVE Sue.

Big Shamu said...

bwhahahahhaha on your unread messages.

Anonymous said...

Colfer is a major talent. In his "Single Lady" number last season he exhibits the androgynous sexuality of a Michael Jackson.

Anonymous said...

Kurt is an annoying, self-centered asshole. Can't stand his constant whining and bitching. Get a grip, boy, stop blaming the whole world for your own mistakes. Everyone makes some.

And Mr Shue is not a tool. He is cute and I would die to have a teacher like that. Of course, he is not gay, so he must be a tool. Sometimes you are just as narrow-minded as the ones who are you constantly moaning about. Go get that sandwich, for you are becoming predictable with your criticism. And boring.

Ashley said...

People criticize Glee for a lot of things, let's not act like its only because the narrative is immature. I'm glad it reflects your gay adolescence, but stop being so defensive and dismissive of the people it flat out offends.

cocoro said...

o, i see, that happened.

cocoro said...

somewhat, ds,
I am curious, what was the idea
at the first time you want to write about
LGBT pop culture?

what was your expectations to the followers?

Anonymous said...

Well um.. I personally would just like to add, that I in fact *did* play the steel drums in high school.

Rob said...

Great article on the show. You did forget one very important thing about Chris Colfer: the boy can SING! They all can, but he's something special. His "A House Is Not A Home" is the only number I've downloaded. Now if we could just get rid of, or get a better, mohawk on Puck.

Anne said...

I honestly don't give a shit about Glee's "lack of sophisticated narrative". Autostraddle was moaning about that too. Why should we worry about where all those fancy costumes come from when we get to see such fantastic, talented actors singing great songs and standing up for almost every 'type' of kid in (high) school. Would we like to see them sing and dance to tunes from an old ghettoblaster in their day-to-day clothes? I don't think so. It's television. It's just how it works. Get over it.

Alicia said...

Well said, Ms. Snarker. While watching this season I've become a bit annoyed with the lack of linear storyline, or consistent character development. Yet, because it's still pretty cool otherwise, I still tune in every week.

Last night's episode was a big reason why I still watch the show--once in a while it surprises me and reminds me that there is a message here, it's not just willy-nilly plot lines.

On the topic of Brittana, I can't see them as being a legitimate couple because they are both written as "easy" and willing to have sex with anyone. I guess when no one is around they turn to one another. I wish it were a bit more than that--I would love to see some more progress--but so far it has been one step forward two steps back in their "relationship"

K said...

Couple things - totally agree with Mr. Shue being a tool. On multiple levels. And him dancing with the kids is just gross. I cringe. I didn't want him to kiss Beastie - anyone would deserve more and I like her. I wouldn't want Shuester to be my first kiss. Yuck.

Some people comment that the storyline of Brittana is off and on. Not really. Unfortunately this is the way a lot of gay/bi girls are like in high school. Santana's always claimed to like Puck but goes to Brittany when he's not around. Hopefully, when he leaves she can admit her feelings for Brittany. But Brittany and Artie? Ugh.

My heart ached for Kurt when he was in the boys school - you could see how badly he wanted to go to school there.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you just love it when Mr. Shue said " that would be like throwing the baby out with the bath water..." and Brittany says " I've done that." Love that girl.

Anonymous said...

uh wow, what is with all the (completely uncalled for) name calling and bitching? Did someone cross-post this to a tween forum? lmao

Anonymous said...

It looks like a bunch of tween Glee fans were given your latest blog and decided to only half read it, just to then follow up with a bunch of crude and completely uncalled for remarks. Oh, boy...

Anyway, great post, Ms. Snarker. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

amanda said...

Have you heard Ryan Murphy's acceptance speech at the PFLAG LA event? I can't seem to find it online, but it'd be worth tracking down. Very moving.

Michelle said...

I agree with your assessment of Chris Colfer and how terrific he is on Glee. I also think it's great that they allow Kurt to experience the various ups and downs that are specific to a gay kid in high school.

And while this particular storyline is wonderful and Glee is, of course, one of the gayest shows on t.v., I find it highly problematic with how they represent young women on this show, especially Santana and Brittany with regards to sexuality. The most recent episode is a good example: "We'd have a winning football team if everyone would just put out." The idea of sexuality as fluid is a good angle to take, especially with teenagers who are figuring "things" out; however, I believe the writers (*coughallmencough*) have taken it too far and write off female sexuality way too easily (either prudish or slutty).

I truly hope that Glee gets their act together and devotes the same attention to the women on the show as they do the men.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I'm having a hard time wanting to watch the show anymore, after the GQ cover. I hate to still be ranting about it, but it just clouds my whole perception of the show. It was like that cover was screaming "Hey, we're on Glee and we're straight. We are like really, really, really heterosexual." I imagined a bunch of tv executives having a meeting at fox, concerning some audience comments that the show was getting too gay. They can't cancel the show, because its making them way too much money, so they had to do something else...and that cover was a solution.

On the other hand, I do appreciate episodes like last night, of which I did partially catch. Bringing the gay bullying issue center stage.