Thursday, February 23, 2012

What doesn't Glee you

Most Very Special Episodes strive to cover one Very Special Issue. Like, say, drug abuse. Or child neglect. Or that funny shaped mole that turns out to be the C word. But not “Glee.” Nooooo. “Glee” has to be different. “Glee” has to be even Very Specialer than the most Very Special Episode. It’s the Very Specialest of Episodes. To wit, it crammed not only teen suicide, not only teen marriage but also teen texting while driving into one hour-long Very Specialest Episode. When it was over, I felt a bit like poor Quinn – hit by a truck.

Here’s what I can say about “Glee.” What it does well it does so achingly well you want to catch it in a jar and put it on your nightstand and watch it slowly dance before you as you gently drift into slumber. But what it does badly or, even worse – heavy handedly, it does so badly you want to throw said jar against the nearest wall and watch it crash into a million little pieces, each of which represents an infinitely frustrating missed opportunity.

But let’s address them one by one, shall we? First, teen suicide. Teen suicide from bullying is a terrible thing. People from across the globe came together to address this issue in a beautiful show of grassroots solidarity with the It Gets Better Project more than a year ago. So, taken on its own, the interspersed images of an emotionally distraught Karofsky agonizing about being outed and bullied was poignant and important. Kids can be cruel. Adolescents can be hell. The world can seem hopeless. But you’re not alone. It does get better. And living is the only way you can ensure you get to the good stuff.

But here’s the thing, “Glee,” what you do doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You can’t say, outing is so terrible and so wrong and so tragic and so possibly suicidal one minute, yet just three months earlier say outing is A-OK if the popular hero quarterback dude does it to a kinda bitchy mean girl and then makes her sit awkwardly in front of him as he sings a song about girls wanting to have fun. Granted, sure, everyone’s experience is different. But you can’t really have your cake any way you want it. Otherwise the message is: Boy outing is super bad, girl outing is super helpful. Not cool.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, what the actual fuck with Kurt lecturing Quinn on how she should feel about Karofsky’s suicide attempt? What kind of my minority issue is more important than your minority issue speechifying is that? No. Uh-uh. Not cool. This isn’t the Ism Olympics. This is a silly little show about a Midwestern glee club that can, at its finest, provide crystalline moments of emotional resonance. And other times, they just sing and dance really well, and stuff.

Right, so there’s now on to teen marriage. All I’m going to say about this ridiculous Finn and Rachel getting hitched storyline is it is ridiculous and no one who writes a word of it should be paid in real, actual money. Instead might I suggest reimbursement in community college credits instead so they could take a Critical Thinking Skills 101 class and realize that this out-of-nowhere, this-helps-make-Finn-special story is at best illogical and at worst ludicrous. p.s. Yes, Faberry Nation, I know that wedding totally should have been Quinn and Rachel because that, that would have made sense.

Finally, the teen texting while driving storyline, a.k.a. Let’s hit poor Dianna Agron with a truck. Hey, remember when she wanted to steal Shelby’s baby? This kinda makes me think back fondly to that plotline. I bet Dianna couldn’t be happier that Quinn’s a senior. If I was her I’d run as far away from Ryan Murphy as my legs could take me. That is if her legs still work when the show returns April 10.

Also, don’t get me started on the intrinsic cruelty of voicing poor Tina’s simple desire to be able to sing a song and then not actually letting her sing a song. I think this makes “Glee” even more of an asshole. At least if it was oblivious to its flaws you could hope to improve them. But to know your flaws and flaunt them? Yeah, total asshole move.

So, there you have it. “Glee” in a nutshell. Flashes of genius. Long stretches of why is this happening. Giant sinkholes of logic. And some real asshole moves.

Also, can anyone tell me what the actual fuck that peanut butter nonsense was all about?

Well, at least we got to see the Troubletones. What “Glee” doesn’t kill, makes us all stronger for stomaching.


JJ said...

Once again, you have articulated my thoughts quite well! Seriously, this was another episode that frustrated the hell out of me over and over again.

Oh,and re: the peanut butter thing -- I lived in Ireland for a year a while back, and well... they don't have peanut butter there. In fact, they find the whole concept kind of odd. Once, while I was there and working in a B&B, some tourists left some behind and my coworkers spent some time making fun of "this weird American food", with me trying to convince them to try it. Only one of them would -- she didn't like it. But I got a jar of peanut butter so, it was all good.

Anonymous said...

Very on point. Also did not appreciate the uncorrected victim-blaming in the Kurt/Karofsky reunion, and Kurt's internalization of this fucked up societal idea that victims are responsible for the rehabilitation of those that torment them.
They had an opportunity to have Santana voice how it felt to be outed (but can't have Finn looking bad!) or Blaine talk about his experience with gay bashing, but no, we had to hear about Schuester cheating on a math test.
Along with Santana's outing, we had the dismissal of everything Karofsky put Kurt through AND what Sebastian did to Blaine just a couple weeks ago.
And of course the irresponsible message that all Karofsky needs is a friend, and not serious professional help.
The entire episode was a trainwreck, though Cough Syrup sounded beautiful.

SFGreek said...

Perfect. One more time, the writers need to see your posts. But especially this one, because the paragraph on the outing double standard is brilliant. Then again, more likely they'd dismiss it the way they dismiss everyone else.

Why these writers think they're above equality issues is a mystery to me. It's appalling, all the more so because it's on *that* show.

riverdogrecords said...

I think the big twist at the end of the season is when we find out that Lima, Ohio is actually Hotel California and that's why Rachel had to "love" Finn and Quinn had to get hit by the truck (and I don't know what they'll do to keep Brittana there because they haven't given us any idea of their plans to get out). I mean, if they're going to be inexplicably cruel to their characters and keep them all around after graduation, I would like a sci-fi twist and an Eagles song.

kasadilla11 said...

This show has become such a train wreck. I haven't had the stomach to watch any new episodes since the insanity that was the Christmas episode, mainly because of the gentrification of Rachel and Puck, but also because of everything you've included here.
Santana's outing made me want to throttle someone, but I hoped against hope they'd pay it off. Quinn's been so out of character she might as well be one of the new kids, but I hoped against hope they'd pay it off. Rachel and Finn and marriage just makes me sick, but I hoped against hope they'd give Rachel a chance to see the light of day and run off to New York with Kurt, NYADA or no NYADA.
But no. Ryan Murphy and co. really do hate these characters too much to give them any kind of a sensible world to live in. Remember when all of us were so excited to find out that the show was hiring a team of real writers this season? Yeah, look how that turned out.
Thank you for watching this show when I just can't do it anymore, and for writing such beautiful words that remind me that no, I don't want to start watching again to see what the fuss is all about. Though I'm still hoping against hope that the writers will have figured it all out by April 10th. Sigh...

Jasmine said...

They cut the Faberry scene where Quinn actually *begs* Rachel not to marry Finn, thus making the resulting scene where Quinn dons her Cheerio outfit and say that she supports the marriage and wants Rachel to be happy and so on - NOT MAKE ANY SENSE AT ALL.

But instead they decided to leave in the scene where Rory scoffs peanut butter and they laugh at Tina's lack of solos?

What a joke.

Ironically, that last sentence of mine is a pretty accurate description of Glee altogether.

(Also great post by the way, I am now drowning in a see of 'Quinn/Truck' feels so well done, haha)

Let said...

Just. Yes. To all of this. I was really pissed with that Kurt/Quinn interaction. I don't agree with Quinn's opinion, but I can understand where she's coming from, especially if you think of her upbringing. And she was expressing them inside a club, a Catholic Club. Kurt swoops in and tells her that her problems, her efforts, her fucking survival journey isn't worth it.

Well, by the Ryan Murphy standards, where women certainly can't be happy, successful or independent without the action of a man involved, it actually seems plausible. Or you know, we'll let you see the female character evolution happen, but then we'll hit said character with a truck.

And what about Finn justifying their marriage with "oh, life goes by so fast". I mean, come on. I think the whole teen suicide was totally superficially treated. There's this heartbreaking scene with Karofsky and then a whole 35 minutes of people talking about how that action affected/would affect their fucking lives. Talk about selfish.

And don't even get me started (actually I really won't go there, since you already did) on the fact that boy being outed is not so cool, but girl it's okay, 'cause it's all fun and games and we all know each other. Fuck that.

Sometimes I just think to myself: they wrote this and didn't think about the consequences? The possible interpretations? The double standards? It actually pains me to see that they think they can get away with it. I wish the writers would read those criticisms - I mean, I think they're not, because there have been warnings since the middle of season 2.

Pardon any grammar mistakes, I tend to ramble and lose focus when raging about TV. Also, english is not my first language. But I love your blog and this post made me so happy to see I'm not alone, while people have been praising Finchel strong love. Can we not?

Keep up the awesome work.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Ireland recently and was astonished by the lack of peanut butter - it's not common in Europe, and it tasted pretty different when I could find it. A totally irrelevant sidenote to a totally ridiculous episode.

Debi said...

Like a lot of people, I was a bullied queer teenager with suicidal thoughts. And while I don't speak for all bullied queer teenagers with suicidal thoughts, I will say that if my favorite show at the time had aired an episode in which a queer teenager attempted suicide, and suddenly everyone had a complete turn around, wanted to be his friend and dedicated entire shows to how much they really love him... if my favorite show had done that, I might well have attempted suicide.

I hope no Glee-loving teenager hurts themselves after this, because the only thing I can think of is that this show has shown that suicide attempts make things better.

Big Shamu said...

So.....are they killing off Quinn?

Let said...

@Big Shamu, beware of spoilers those who don't want to know:

- it's not really clear if they're killing her or not, but she was filming with Kevin (Artie) and she was on a weelchair. Some sites said that she may only be back for dream sequences, but I don't believe that's the case, since she's working until now.

Which means that she'll end up surviving, but in a wheelchair (at least for some time).

Nikko said...

What I find appalling is the fact that many gay people are involved in the making of Glee, whether that be producers or writers.

The inequality in treatment between Kurt/Blaine/Dave and Brittany/Santana is so blatantly glaring that I cannot believe they just don't see it. It seems they're doing on purpose now because I cannot explain the reason for this. Or they just don't simple care about the portrayal of Brittana (and women in general). I cannot stomach the inequality and the sexism anymore.

I just hope they go back to being a comedy, and not this preachy and full of flaws show it is now. I don't think I had laughed once this season.

There is never time to show Brittany and Santana acting as a couple, yet they find the time for Kurt and Blaine, all the guest stars, the never ending Warblers boring numbers, and oh St. Finn. I think this just proves Ryan Murphy truly doesn't care about anything gay unless it's his golden gay couple (not to mention the way Brittany has been sidelined this season, it's baffling).

And since the writing does not seem to be improving any time soon, please get your shit together with the lightening and the editing. How many more times should we have to see a cameraman in the group numbers before they do something about it?

Too bad I can't quit you. As long as Heather, Naya and Lea are part of this crapfest, I'll just have to keep watching.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for outing the 18 year old marriage plot as ridiculous and awful. Season 1 Rachel Berry was one of my favorite TV characters ever. I loved her unapologetic ambition and desire for fame. Now they have reduced her to being a scared, hopeless, desperate little girl who is so insecure she feels she must marry her asshole boyfriend who she has zero chemistry with. WTF GLEE!

I'm a lesbian yet I'm sick of the homophobia plot too. Enough!

Once again Ryan Murphy proves he is a master at creating shows that become painful to watch.

I'm not watching this episode ever and not watching glee again. I am also hoping Quinn dies so Dianna Agron can go do something, anything else.

Anonymous said...

Based on the responses to Dorothy's latest post and what I've seen on Afterellen, my view on the episode is definitely in the minority. I liked it. I don't think they handled all of the topics perfectly, but I didn't find it to be an utter crapfest either.

I felt they handled Karofsky's attempted suicide with compassion and delved into the mind of a teen who feels hopeless. The Glee writers are certainly being hypocritical when it comes to the subject of outing, but they handled Karofsky's story well. His response to the outing was true to character. He was filled with self loathing and found very little support when he did decide to accept his sexuality on a personal level. The few people with whom he did open up to apparently either told him he had a disease, ignored him, or told him to go back into the closet. It's not surprising that upon being outed and discovering he doesn't have any actual friends he felt hopeless and attempted suicide. He's not clinically depressed and in danger of immediately trying again. He felt in those moments before hanging himself lost, confused, lonely, betrayed, unloved, worthless, and dirty. When you're a teen and your hormones are raging and you have nobody to talk to, the thought of suicide seems like a valid choice. Sometimes, though not always, all you need is somebody to talk to and let you know that you're loved and that there are options out there. If this wasn't true then the "It Gets Better" campaign is full of shit. Say what you will about past episodes and Glee's past handling of outing, the fact is they handled this story line well.

Now let's look at teen marriage. Once again they're not handling it perfectly but I feel as if they're really trying to present all sides of the matter. You have the disapproving parents, supportive friends, and the friends who think they're ruining their lives. Ultimately though it's about two people who love each other and want to get married. When you're young and in love you become blind to the facts. As much as this engagement makes a lot of people want to vomit, it's true to life for a lot of young people. For better or worse teen marriages happen. Some work out, but most don't. They're not presenting this couple as a story book romance of perfection. They've shown us time and again that they aren't ready to be married and I believe they'll ultimately have the characters wait. No doubt it will be postponed in a contrived way, such as Burt faking a heart attack, which in turn gets all of New Directions to the hospital where they discover Quinn has been in an accident. Rachel in turn feels guilty for texting Quinn and causing her accident which makes her further postpone her nuptials, but I digress. The underlying story line of young love and thinking you've found Mr. or Miss right in high school is true to life for a lot of teens. Glee is making us examine it and maybe it'll cause parents to talk about it with their own kids. Once again I acknowledge that it's not handled perfectly, but I don't feel like the story line "ruined" the characters.

I know a lot of people didn't like the episode, but I feel as if the criticism is based more on past episodes than what transpired in this one. On it's own I thought it was relatively powerful and heartbreaking. Perfect? No, but it's Glee. If it was perfect then I'd keep my eyes out for signs of the apocalypse. They handled teen suicide as best they could and far better than a lot of shows ever will. They're covering the topic of teen marriage honestly and doing a relatively good job of presenting both sides of the matter. Yes, it could've been better, but it wasn't a horrible episode.

Anonymous said...

Can't disagree with anything you've said here. What could have been a powerful episode just wasn't and I don't think it was just down to the on going wedding saga (though the sooner that storyline is ended the better) and Mr Schu cheating in a midterm.

Glee is becoming car crash television so the ending of the episode is somewhat appropriate.

I honestly only watch it for Naya Rivera, and I'll be relieved when she's working on something different. That being said if you mute or fast forward any scene with Finn (sorry Cory Monteith you may be a nice guy but you and my tv don't mix well) or Mr Schu the show is enjoyable.

The acknowledged double standard of last week has been lost in this episode but no surprise there and if I was Jenna U the fact that the writers are finding on screen jokes about her lack of role i'd be offended however much I was being paid.

I'll stick with Glee to the bitter end or until Naya R leaves but there are times I wish I'd never watched the pilot.

Thank you for the blog.

TheWeyrd1 said...

The only thing worse than straight white male privilege (like those right wingnut republicans who think they have the right to tell women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies) is a group of gay white males who either don't appreciate or worse flaunt the irony of their own brand of bigotry.

Anonymous said...

I was love with Glee - it was my favorite show so far! I could relax a forgotten about this terrible world and horible things whitch we can see every day! Glee was nominated for comedy not surprise they not won! This isn´t comedy any more and I´m not sure how to called now. I´m really disapointed were this show came and I´m not interesting eny more!
I think everybody knows what will hapening know. All show will be concentrate on Quinn, how she dealing with everything after car crash and Karofsky how he learn to live! It will be really depresive and I think I can´t holding this ´´COMEDY´´ enymore!
I want my Glee back, Glee which was fun and relaxing, this seasone has nothing commont with Glee! They destroyed super show and made another cliche!

Sorry for this, but I was and still I´m angry about what they dit. I just wish that season 3 never happend, I just wish Glee, season 1, ok 2 wasn´t that bad come back to us, which is never happend.
Yes, I propadly stick with this stupid thing which they still called Glee (if it not Glee enymore!!) after they graduated and I will hope that´s all show just doesn´t turn to depresive cliche!
Also, I´m sorry about my english and every mistakes, I´m still learning and still not good :-(

Bea said...

I have never watched and from reading your reviews and comments about this show, I really cannot figure out why you watch it, Dorothy.

Anonymous said...

“You want to throw said jar against the nearest wall and watch it crash into a million little pieces”

“Nearest wall”??? Snarks I think we can do better than that! :D

Darling, let’s make this a jar smashing to *remember*! What say you to a Beijing rendezvous, followed by a daring raid on the National museum to ‘borrow’ Confucius’ own siege catapult, followed by a jolly little jaunt to the Great Wall, followed by a jar-against-wall smashing that will go down in the annals of world history!!!


PS The Irish don't have peanut butter??? How odd! It's readily available (for those who can stomach it!) from a plethora of British shops. Mercifully though not Fortnum & Mason!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the peanut butter thing, I don't know where half your commenters are getting the idea that we don't have peanut butter in Ireland. I can assure you that we most definitely have peanut butter here. And we've had it here for many years.

I'm really quite fed up with how they're portraying Rory on the show. Guess what, we also play dodgeball here! And while we mightn't use the term "trash talk" ourselves, I find it ridiculous that Rory wouldn't be able to understand the meaning. We Irish kids grow up on mostly American television (with some UK television, a handful of Australian television and a speck of Irish television). We're very exposed to US culture and while we don't necessarily use the same phrases, we certainly understand most of them, especially the more common ones.

Tldr; He's Irish, not stupid, and it'd be nice if the show treated him that way.

Kate said...

I passionately wish someone would start an online campaign to fire the Glee writers.

Based on what I've read in your posts I'm glad I stopped watching this show after the episode where they advocated outing as a good thing.

The bigotry and misogyny of this show disgust me and now it sounds like its become irresponsible and dangerous as well.

Michele in CA said...

Well, unless you're one of the writer's of the show, or you're psychic, you couldn't possibly know why they chose to write the Finchel marriage into the script. Has it occurred to you that it may be the way to get them to stay on after graduation? Because I have. I know Finn isn't popular amongst the lesbian population. I even know why and I feel your pain. But, the actor who plays Finn doesn't want to be unemployed just because Finn's graduating at the end of the season, so they have to figure out how to keep him on. Maybe Finchel getting preggers will keep them at home until the show is cancelled and Rachel will become a Glee coach. Just thinking outside the box here.

Anonymous said...

I too am annoyed at how the Rory character is being written. I am Irish and don't know any Irish person who doesn't know what trash talk is or who doesn't know what peanut butter is. I love peanut butter and it is widely available throughout Ireland.

Lauren said...

I agree with everything, but would add one complaint: This episode should have come with a trigger warning, and I think it was not only irresponsible of the producers not to include one, but utterly disrespectful of audience members who may have had to deal with lgbt suicide in their actual lives.

Unfortunately a friend of mine took her life five months ago and she chose the same method Karofsky did, except that she succeeded. I was able to get through the episode, but just barely, and I know that many of my friends (who watch the show) have not been doing as well as I. I can't understand how a show that has been so lauded for its treatment of lgbt storylines could have made such a grave oversight as this, but I do know that I will henceforth be much more judicious in my support of their endeavors.

(a.k.a. Fuck you, Ryan Murphy)

Anonymous said...

yes agree. Why is Quinn's story so lame. Teen suicide shouldn't be seen so lightly recently, only recently 2 girls committed suicide together here.

AprilLove85 said...

So I just found out about the Faberry stuff and it didn't make sense to me, I mean R&I, Xena, that makes sense, but Rachel and Quinn? Both seem super straight and like they hate each other, half the time they are fighting over boys, I just didn't see I started looking for it, and um yeah...when quinn says "You were singing to finn and only finn right?" and she looks like she's gonna cry, I'm sorry but WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT! Who else would she be singing too? It felt like an attempt at subtext for the people who are looking for it, but for those of us who didn't get the faberry thing it just seems like a really weird question for her to ask, and to be so emotional. But hell, they can pair em, it's better than finn and rachel.

TRN said...

I am not queer, but I had suicidal thoughts in my teen years, and the only thing holding me back each time was "It would destroy my family"

So, in the whole gigantic trainwreck that was this episode, the line that punched me in the proverbial nuts was "Let's pray for his family, he was so selfish for committing suicide, why didn't he think what that would do to them?"

To have the one lifeline I had those dark days to be used (by my favourite female character no less) in a way that absolutely disregards any mental state the person might be in when TAKING THEIR OWN LIFE... It is still unexplainably painful.

Anonymous said...

I hated this episode. First of all, the victim-blaming, the way they handled the Kurt/Karofsky relationship made me very uncomfortable. I can't just forget everything that Kurt went through and then watch him feel guilty and responsible for Karofsky for doing the sane thing by ignoring his phone calls. He shouldn't be the one to reach out because their relationship is and never has been healthy. It's damaging for both of them. What they really should have done was use Santana instead of Kurt. Those two had similar fears about coming out and don't share the history that Kurt and Karofsky share. They could have even revisited Santana's feelings about her own coming out that we were cheated out of.

The isolation of Kurt from his family, boyfriend and friends felt very contrived too. Just like this whole episode. Kurt as an atheist didn't even reach out to religion when his father was in a coma but when his tormentor tries to kill himself he suddenly does. I would have loved a scene with Santana, Brittany, Blaine and Kurt to show how they all felt about it instead of Sebastian's sudden turn around. At least Blaine was angry about the slushy attack but, sadly, I think that was more of a response to the criticism how it was handled earlier by the writers.

The joke about Tina not getting a song was just cruel. Don't go there if you aren't willing to give her one. Quinn gets her life on track and gets hit by a truck. Glee really does hate ambitious women. Every time Rachel or Quinn gets ahead in life somehow they get punished for it immediately.

In response to someone earlier on how they don't show Brittany and Santana acting like a couple but do show that with Kurt and Blaine, I have to disagree. They get a little better treatment as a couple but I don't think they have really talked to each other properly since the first time. Both Kurt and Santana get story lines but they keep Brittany and Blaine out of them. Instead we get Rachel and Finn scenes about pooping and pigs. This show has a problem showing queer couples in a relationship. They can be gay as long as they don't act on it or there's a very special episode once in a season when they do.

Big Shamu said...

Michele in CA confirms what I've known all along. Good writers forward think past season 1. Bad writers write just to get past the next episode. What did they think would happen when the seniors graduated?
As for the actor playing Finn, I'm sure he'd like to keep that paying gig but it's Hollywood and that's the nature of the business. He's lucky he landed that role and once Glee is done, he'll be lucky again to get another big role. Brad Pitt or George Clooney he's not.

BrianWilly said...

"Otherwise the message is: Boy outing is super bad, girl outing is super helpful. Not cool."

I realize that IKAG had a freight train of problems with it and is hands down one of the worst episodes of the show, but can we at least consider context when criticizing it? Finn wanted the glee club to sing to Santana because he had already inadvertently outed her earlier and was now trying to surround her with love and acceptance and a solid support system. When Karofsky got outed, he was surrounded by judgment and mockery and a lack of any support system whatsoever.

The two are literally at the opposite ends of the circumstantial spectrum from each other, and the only way you could consider them the same is if you literally strip away all context from both situations. Both situations depicted outing as "super bad."

Anonymous said...

I watched the first few minutes and knew it was heading right into the close-ups of Kurt. He nauseates me. I switched it off