Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Unbearable Meta of Glee


“Now I realize this room is America’s number one destination for cheap, sappy moralizing, but your insensitive behavior is about to subject you to a whole new level of preachiness.”
– Sue Sylvester, Season 3, Episode 18, “Glee”

“Glee” has a problem. Well, “Glee” has more than one problem. It’s got 99 and then some. But today I plan to bitch about one in particular. You see, “Glee” has a meta problem – a big one. That is, it is intensely aware of itself and self-referential. And even more so, it has started to essentially apologize for its own flaws on the show. In essence it is a show, apologizing for the show, about a show choir. I know – whoooooooooa.

Like, say, when Santana complains in Principal Figgins office that straight couples (i.e. Finchel) are allowed to suck face the French way in the halls of McKinley but gay couples (i.e. Brittana) can’t even share a chaste peck. A response to the criticism that there is a double standard when it comes to gay and straight PDA on the show because there had been no Brittana kiss yet.

Or, say, when Tina says all she wants is a song and then in last night’s episode Kurt says Tina won’t mind being replaced by Rachel in his audition. A response to the criticism that certain characters, like Tina, hardly get to speak let alone appear in the show anymore.

Or, say, when Kurt complains that it’s Blaine and the Pips because he gets all the solos in the Warblers. A response to the criticism that this new guy Darren Criss was getting all this screentime.

Or, say, when Sue tells Will he needs more adult friends. A response to the criticism that it’s creepy as fuck that a grown-ass man hangs around with teenagers so much and seemingly has no other social circle around him other than his virgin bride.

Or, say, when again in last night’s episode Sue tells the Glee girls that they’re going to be subjected to a whole new level of preachiness, and then proceeds to get a whole new level of preachy on them about domestic violence. A response to the criticism of the show’s use of Very Special Episodes to glibly focus on a serious issue.

Yes, “Glee,” very good. You’ve located the problem. But, alas, herein lies the rub. “Glee” may be meta and apologize for its shortcomings, but if it then doesn’t do anything to change its shortcomings, it doesn’t really matter. Saying you’re sorry and still doing it anyway doesn’t make things better.

Gay and lesbian couples still display less PDA than straight ones on “Glee.” Tina still gets short-shrifted in nearly every script. Blaine still gets a ton of solos (not to mention screentime), even more than Quinn in an episode where Quinn is freaking paralyzed. Will still has no discernible age-appropriate friends. And, yes, “Glee” still loves to wallow in the feverish throws of Very Special Episodeitis.

Sure, knowing there is a problem is half the battle. But now, “Glee,” it’s time to do more than apologize. It’s time to fix this shit.

p.s. I will say, “Glee” has fixed on glaring meta issue. Every since they brought up the forum begging Will to stop rapping, they’ve cut that shit out. Now Mr. Shue only threatens to do it. But, oh, what a threat.

p.p.s. Oh, and we have not even touched on the fact that in this Very Special Episode about domestic violence, only the female members of Glee get a stern talking to about the issue. Because, naturally, men have nothing to do with violence against women. Naturally.

19 comments:

Madfoot said...

I have to commend you for still being able to watch the show! Honestly once I realized they weren't doing showtunes anymore I dropped out of um whatever high school they're in.

Anonymous said...

Too little too late. Thy're already bellow the 6mil viewers. Not the best May Sweeps, it seems.

LaKeeau said...

Everything and maybe more! I used to like Glee but now all they do screw it up by going all after school special on a very important issue. If Coach Beaste dies or gets hurt...

thebodyelectric said...

I thought the same thing in last night's episode, Choke: Why was it only the girls who needed to learn a lesson on domestic abuse??! Nice try, Glee, nice try.

Andrea said...

Ugh...tip of the hat to you, Ms. Snarker for still watching Glee. I dropped out of that before Christmas and tuned in for the Brittana episode, and it didn't do it justice enough for me to keep watching.

Faffernella Finkerdink said...

You are not wrong Ms Snarker...which makes you right !
The blatant references to fan criticism in the show are becoming tiresome because simply making a character mention them rather than changing whats wrong is like saying "We heard you...but guess what ? More of the same".
Sure you can't please all of the people all of the time and writers can't act on every single bit of fan frustration but in this case it feels like a show that sells itself at it's core as being about diversity and inclusion and indivduality has forgotton that entails celebrating these things not stifling them.
Tina and Puck - Excluded from the show and reduced to bit part players.
Brittana - Reduced to a viewing figures tool in that the only reason they haven't had them kiss (and I mean full on snogtastic facehugging) is they know fans will keep tuning in under the vain hope one day soon before season 101they will.
These are two women who have declared their love for each other in endless ways over the course of the series yet apparently saying it and showing it onscreen are two very different concepts for the writers to handle ? Why ?
What are the afraid of ?

meatisadelicacy said...

Glee doesn't need to fix it. We need to stop watching it. I've done my part. Come on, ladies. We can do it!

Kate said...

I stopped watching Glee after they had Finn assault Santana in the hallways. But the idea of Glee addressing fan criticism in this way smacks of arrogance and condescension. Not to mention its unprofessional. Though for a long time I've been under no dilussion that professional writers actually work on the show. I'm glad to have my Tuesday nights back.

Anonymous said...

The only good thing I can say for Glee is that it introduced us to Lea Michele and Dianna Agron. Pretty much the same as TLW and she who won't be named introduced us to Kate and Sarah.

Big Shamu said...

I was so sad about last night's episode. Sad for so many reasons. For the most part, the female roles on this show are portrayed as pretty strong willed and independent. Having Coach Beaste be the victim of domestic abuse was a sad turn of events. Apparently the After School Specials imprinted a bit too deeply on the writers of Glee since we seem to be experiencing a laundry list of Big Social Issues. Domestic violence, gay bullying, texting while driving, and who knows what else they have planned. I seriously hope there's no Glee Columbine in our future. But what was so sick last night was another bizarre smack down on women. Women joking on domestic violence, women glorifying violence against men with the Cell Block Tango number, women lying about experiencing domestic violence and absolutely no mention of men in the equation. No lecturing the guys? NONE? Great message. Ladies it was all YOUR fault you get smacked around. Can you say major Suckage?

Jasmine said...

I was thinking about this right before I got online and read your post actually. I think it's just because the collective group known as the 'Glee writers' are warped and in their own little bubble.

They don't know what their fans want, don't listen to the critics and only change anything when we threaten to boycott and/or cause a serious ruckus (mostly because they see no ideas other than the ones in their heads). The best groups of writers are the ones that have different ideas, thoughts and come from different backgrounds, unlike Glee which is predominantly white, homosexual males - Community and PLL have some of the best writing and tv and they're writers are about diverse as you could possibly get.

This comment turned out to be a lot longer than I intended but basically : Glee is a bag of balls and we're only watching it because we're in love with the super attractive and talented cast.

Anonymous said...

The show sucks royal and I don't and can't watch it anymore.

Anonymous said...

Glee is a tricky show. It doesn't seem to know what kind of show it wants to be and if it did, it's doing badly at trying to be a PSA/musical ensemble/Teen American Idol with the newbies. It's bold, an unabashed vanguard with its inclusive motifs and supposedly controversial subjects like no other shows. But it's like a blind mouse knocking into the walls of a maze that it has dug itself into, not knowing where to go, or where it wants to go.

I'm still clueless as to what this show is about, really.

Faffernella Finkerdink said...

Just seen the domestic violence episode tonight in the U.K and have to agree with the comments here...in addition I am getting increasingly hacked off with Glee's obsession with sitting the 'subject' of this weeks 'issue of the week' infront of a panel of warbling over emoters who proceed to sing some imagined musical cure all song that will make everything seem better ...this weeks offering at the end as Beaste sat there in tears felt condescending coming from kids who a zillion ad breaks earlier couldn't summon up enough collective brains to figure singing about shooting your partner in the head for popping gum might not be the best way to go as a pep talk !

Anonymous said...

The Unbearable Meta-ness of Glee-ing indeed. You simply cannot continue to mash up ripped-from-the-headlines PSAs, iTunes, and fanfic/message boards and expect us to embrace it. Shall we change the group's name from New Directions to Too Many Directions? Talk about jumping the Gay Shark...

Anonymous said...

I agree with all of this criticism 100%, yet I continue to love Glee - despite all of its problems. The first half of the first season was campy and silly and sweet and ridiculous, and in my opinion pure TV genius. There is no doubt that the show has only gone downhill from there - but it still has its moments (however rare) when it shines and sparkles. As angry as I can get at the show at times - I know I will never stop watching, and re-watching my favorite episodes and song & dance numbers.

p.s. Did anyone else's heart melt during "I wanna dance with somebody" in the Whitney tribute episode? I loved how they changed the words from "man" to "woman" and from "his arms" to "her arms". Oh yeah, and Brittany's dancing....LOVE <3 !!!

Kit said...

I'm now only watching the dang thing because I love Klaine. Brittana basically just act like tweeny bopper 'best friends' rather than an actual relationship. At least Kurt and Blaine get airtime and get to act like a couple for it. SIGH. I really want the writing to improve, but since it's basically never been good...

Rizz Rustbolt said...

Maybe we'll get lucky and they'll fire Marti Noxon before next season starts. Then all the women-hating will go away.

Brad and Ryan still work there though. So the lesbian hate will still be there.

Anonymous said...

Geeze - some of you a really rude!
I thought the domestic violence episode was a little heavy-handed too, but it's TV! There has to be character progression, they have to learn something. And actually, what a new way to deal with the subject of women joking about domestic violence. Perhaps that was the whole point of the episode? So in effect this episode was about women empowering women. Great! And they boys helped each other out too.
What is offensive about that?