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Back in the first season of Glee, oh so many moons ago, there was quite a bit of talk about whether or not the show fell into sexist territory on occasion. If you’re thinking, “I never heard anything about that,” clearly you weren’t looking in the right places. People who complained that Glee had a not-so-admirable opinion on girls and women were kind of right. Terri and Quinn were both lying about their pregnancies (or lack of pregnancy, in Terri’s case) and were uncaring “shrews” towards Will and Finn, respectively. Emma and Rachel were both “the other woman” in two separate already-established relationships. Sue was the evil villain of the show. There was nary an admirable female character in sight, whereas Will, Kurt, and Finn (and Artie, to a certain extent) were (and still are) portrayed as saintly.
I personally didn’t think it was that big of a deal, back in the first season. I’ll admit, I was a bit distracted by all the flashy musical numbers and the “we can do it!” feel-good attitude. The show was a little dose of sunshine every week, and for that, I was willing to overlook some of the more serious problems it has. Most shows have issues with continuity, character consistency and development, tone, pacing, etc., at some point. Granted, Glee has those problems in spades, but the problems I’m talking about are more social. Is the show racist at times? Is it sexist? Is it ableist? I think a lot of shows are, but those shows don’t package themselves as repurposed after-school specials, complete with morals and a lesson. The theme of the show is, “Appreciate the things that make us different.” Dare to stand out, to go against the “norm.” That’s why the show gets a lot of attention on that front.
So the question is, why does a show that preaches acceptance and tolerance persist in being intolerant, or at the very least, ignorant of people who are different? These past two episodes have kind of shook my inner-feminist awake and said, “Neener neener, I’m not playing nice.” Here’s a brief list of what I take issue with.
1. Sluts, prudes, and nothing in-between.
Glee never portrays girls’ sexuality in a positive light. I thought they might, back in the first season (I think it was the second episode?), when Rachel pays a visit to the Celibacy Club and says, “You know, girls like sex too.” I thought, finally, a girl on television who isn’t a “whore” and isn’t a “prude.” She’s just normal (not that there’s anything wrong with being a so-called “prude,” but in TV land, some character would have a problem with it eventually). But no, come this season and Finn’s complaining that Rachel won’t let him get any. In last week’s episode, “Never Been Kissed,” he said something to Sam, like, “Figures we’d date the only girls in school who won’t put out.” First off, really? Rachel and Quinn are the ONLY TWO GIRLS IN SCHOOL who won’t put out? Seriously, Finn?! And why would Rachel or Quinn WANT to put out? So they could be labeled as “sluts,” like Brittany and Santana?
There’s no middle ground. The girls are either uptight and won’t give their poor, poor boyfriends any sex, or they’re too promiscuous – girls who gain a reputation as “whores,” and can get no real respect from boys or their fellow girls. Let me assert, there is nothing wrong with having sex, or not having sex. It’s the show that portrays them in these ways: it’s healthy for boys to want sex, and for girls to not give it to them. It’s not healthy for girls to want sex. For all the promise I saw in this show, I was proven wrong. I thought they’d have female characters who weren’t defined by their sexuality in some way, and while most of the girls on this show are multi-faceted (sexuality or lack of sexuality is NOT Rachel’s defining characteristic, for example), there are still some confusing, negative messages being sent out here.
NOTE: The subtitle on this first entry to my list is a bit misleading. There IS something “in-between.” There’s the girl no one wants to imagine in a romantic situation at all, i.e. Mercedes. Everyone knows that curvy girls can’t get love, duh. Clearly that’d be gross.
Safe to say that the first season of Glee went out with more of a whimper than a bang. Once again they’ve pushed the reset button. What did they do this season? Work their way towards sectionals, then regionals. What will they do next season? Once again work their way towards sectionals, then regionals (and perhaps beyond). They have another goal to reach to keep their club, but now they have another year. How convenient! We’ll undoubtedly start the next season out with even more Finn and Rachel drama (which, frankly, bores me to tears). As much as it would irritate me all summer if they were to leave us on a cliffhanger, for the sake of good storytelling it would have been the best choice.
What really got to me – and it’s a problem that, in all my naivete, I believed would be fixed by now – were all the blatant inaccuracies and near-fantasy elements of the episode. For one, the timeline is beyond screwy. Mr. Schue told the kids, in the last scene, to take the summer off. Okay…? I was under the impression that they would continue on with their school year. Don’t the state and national competitions come after regionals? So, will Vocal Adrenaline be going to compete at state competition over the summer? I’ve done the high school choir competition thing, and we made it to state, and I’m from Indiana (which is next to Ohio, in case you didn’t know), so I can guarantee that state competitions happen during the school year. Just because New Directions didn’t make it, doesn’t mean that the whole show choir season has ended. It seems obvious to me, but then I suppose the show just wanted the timeline to line up with real time. While their viewers are having their summer break, and the show is on hiatus, the New Directions kids will also be taking a break. It makes sense in that way, but then again it seems completely unrealistic (and frankly a bit irritating). Read the rest of this entry »
Before I go on what will assuredly be a rambling tirade of anger and confusion, let me say that I’ve heard that this episode got switched with last week’s big GaGa episode for reasons unbeknownst to me (probably for ratings, as it was a much talked about episode, and it was following the American Idol finale), so a few scenes had to be cut to make this a possibility. At least that’s what I’ve heard. But even if this is the truth, it’s no excuse to spit in the face of continuity altogether.
The biggest, most obvious chunk of plot missing was whatever caused a rift in the Rachel and Jesse relationship. Last we saw Jesse St. James, he was telling Ms. Corcoran that he was starting to really like Rachel. Then, he was noticeably absent from the last episode, so clearly nothing happened there to cause the bad blood. But this episode starts out with him flaunting his Benedict Arnold-ness and bitterly saying that the New Directions kids treated him terribly and never listened to his opinions (which we never saw exemplified on-screen). He cruelly sets Rachel up to be egged by his Vocal Adrenaline cohorts in the McKinley parking lot, then takes a turn at it himself, saying, “I loved you.” LOVED, in the past-tense. SO WHAT IN THE NAME OF CELINE DION HAPPENED?! Read the rest of this entry »
Alright, I’m just going to say it: tonight’s episode of Glee was less than astounding. The songs blew, and the characters and their actions were baffling (I’m looking at you, Finn and Will, but more on that later).
Let’s start with the music. I so wish that the songs sounded more authentic. There is no reason that Rachel and Jesse’s version of “Hello” had to be auto-tuned, and yet it was. I have a copy of the “Spring Awakening” cast recording, I know that Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff sound awesome together and separately, and without any gadgets that make them sound like T-Pain. So… WHY?! I can accept people bursting into song whenever they feel the need, but I can’t buy that they have a Lazy Susan full of musicians at their constant disposal, and that every song sounds tinny and robotic and too glossy. The awesome thing about musicals is that the singing is raw and emotional, but the strategy on Glee is to suck all the life and feeling from every performance.
So, Dr. Blog here is prescribing her first treatment for the show: Raw musical performances. Let’s hear it all. Have some faith in the performers you’ve chosen. If I wanted to hear some over-produced, regurgitated pop music, I’d turn on the radio. Cover songs are fine on a show like this, but at least give something new to the songs, give them the pizzazz and passion that musical theatre and other live performances can have.
Also, let’s pick some new music. “Gives You Hell” was an abomination, as was “Hello, I Love You.” And “Highway to Hell,” well, that wasn’t even Jonathan Groff singing. They weren’t fooling me, and I’m guessing that anyone who watched the scene where he and Rachel sang “Hello” (which would be everyone) would know that he wasn’t singing that group number. So, my second treatment that I’m prescribing is: Pick songs that suit your singers and make use of their talents. If there’s a certain song you MUST have in an episode, make sure you give it to the cast member who can pull it off best. Read the rest of this entry »
I recently compiled a list of my top ten favorite musical moments or performances from the first 13 episodes of Glee, for discussion purposes with some fellow fans. Let me just say that it was very difficult to whittle this down to just ten performances. My rules were that we had to see a good portion of the song on screen, and… actually, that was really my only rule. That kept out numbers like “Taking Chances,” which was a great song, but we didn’t hear more than a snippet of it on the show. I also tried to take into account lots of different aspects, like singing, music arrangement, dancing/choreography, emotional meaning behind the song (particularly for the character(s) singing it), context, and impact. I narrowed it down to twenty options, then peeled a few away until I was left with ten. I’ll post the other ten at the end of the list.
The Top Ten Musical Moments from Glee (Thus Far)
10. “Take a Bow” – performed by Rachel (Lea Michele) in Episode 1×02, “Showmance”
This is both a great performance within the episode (well-shot and acted) and as a regular song. I definitely prefer it to the original Rihanna version. It’s a defining moment for Rachel, who is beginning to realize that she can’t have everything that she wants. If she is going to aim for stardom, some other aspects of her life, like friendships and romances, might have to fall by the wayside. Rachel faces disappointment a lot – I think we tend to forget that because she’s so upbeat and determined – and that’s why this peek past her “I’m going to be a star” exterior is so emotional. I think it was a star-making moment for Lea Michele as well, as it showed that she can do more than play an all-singing, all-dancing version of Tracy Flick.
I suppose these could be considered “spoilers,” actually, and maybe I should start warning about those sorts of things.
Good news, nerds! The Gods of Musical Theatre (yes, They exist) are bestowing upon television viewers a wonderful gift. This Wednesday, on “Glee,” Broadway deity Kristin Chenoweth will be making a glorious appearance. As a bonus gift, she will sing both a duet with Lea Michele (“Maybe This Time” from “Cabaret”) and a duet with Matthew Morrison (Heart’s “Alone”). Let me just say, it is going to be amazing. You can listen to “Alone” here:
The ending is cheesy, but delightfully so, and while K-Chen’s voice doesn’t really have that “rock” quality (which is usually a necessity if one is to sing a Heart song), I think it puts an interesting spin on it. She and Matthew Morisson have voices that sound great together, and it all adds up to one really great power ballad.
God, I feel like such a dork. Maybe I should ease off the “Glee” stuff. Or maybe, I don’t want to!
Because I can’t wait until tomorrow’s episode, even though it’s less than 24 hours away.
Hmm… I’m listening to this for the first time while I’m writing this. I like the harmonies and the voices and all, but the orchestration is a bit cheesy and it’s a given that nothing can top the original Queen version. Hopefully, like most “Glee” songs, it will gain a little something in the actual performance. Also, this song features all twelve New Directions members. After hearing Puck sing for the first time last week, I’m kind of wishing they’d featured him a bit more in this song. But I’m grateful that it showcased Artie and Mercedes a bit.
Oh, Kurt. You are so wonderful. That is all.
I mentioned this song in last night’s “Glee” post, but now I actually found a preview of it.
Not bad. The song is pretty cheesy, almost sounds like one of those “I can do it!” songs the winner of “American Idol” has to sing, but then that’s Celine Dion’s forte. Of course Lea Michele sounds awesome, but I liked the song most at the beginning, when it’s slower and she’s backed only by an acoustic guitar. I think it would’ve been nice to see the song retooled as an acoustic ballad, but then there wouldn’t be any of those swooping, uplifting, powerful moments that come in every song like this. Hmm… I can’t wait to see the exact context they use this in on the show.
EDIT: Here’s a second version (this one is on YouTube, the above was on Amazon), in case one of them goes down:
Dare I say, “Glee” is turning out to be even better than I dreamed it would be. It’s so quotable, which is the biggest surprise. You expect that from sitcoms, but not hour long musical dramedies. Also, I think it’s got one of the strongest casts on television right now, which is surprising considering that many of them are young and relatively new to TV. It’s nearly impossible for me to choose a favorite (although Kurt and Rachel are standouts, of course). And the fact that Lea Michele is singing Celine Dion next week makes my inner Kurt do frantic jazz hands. From what I’ve heard (episode four, “Preggers,” was one of the two that were screened for select critics a few months ag0), it’s going to be a pretty memorable episode. Can. Not. Wait.
And… let’s hear it for the A Cafellas: