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.