There’s been a discussion going on Twitter about Glee, which up until this article by Andy Dehnart and this post by Sadie over at Jezebel, appeared to me to be universally loved by everyone but myself.
I watched the Pilot on Hulu over the summer and while I enjoyed the musical numbers, Sue, and that the cheerleaders where called “The Cheerios” it fell a little flat to me. But I thought it had potential to be a wonderful series. But week after week I sit down, watch, and fail to be as amazed as everyone else seemed to be. It’s still not sure if it wants to be an edgy teen satire that happens to have musical numbers, or a teen musical that has a little satirical edge. It changes tone too often from the absurd fake pregnancy plot line to the sweet after school special feeling of Kurt’s coming out.
What I have found most problematic with Glee was addressed in both the Dehnart and Jezebel pieces and that’s the over-reliance on unnecessary stereotypes for comedic effect. Sadie takes the series to task for its awful female characters and Dehnart mentions the appalling Sandy. To add to this, I found the rainbow coalition of background Glee members a problem. I’ve been hoping for weeks to learn more about Mercedes, Tina, Artie, and Kurt, but with the exception of Kurt, I still don’t know anything about them as the series continues to focus on the straight white people.
Last week’s episode, “Throwdown” seemed at first like it was going to be a self-reflexive dig on the show’s lack of focus on the rest of the club. But, after the number with the amazing Mercedes (who I’d much rather listen to than Lea’s wide eyed earnestness), it turned out to be an episode about the pregnant Quinn, the worst plot line in TV history Terri’s fake pregnancy and the rivalry between Sue and Will. (And BTW – what is up with the background Cheerios wearing high healed sport shoes and dancing like they’re in a rap video when ever they appear?) In trying to poke fun at the marginalization and tokenism of minorities (what? My dad’s a dentist) Glee only succeeded in continuing to marginalize them. The final number emphasized that they just need to stick together (integrate the black and white, nice use of subtle costuming there) as members of Glee – overcome their differences and literally hold hands and sing kumbaya. We know that Glee is meant to be about being an outcast in general and next week’s episodes it looks like Finn and Quinn (and how did I not notice that before – bleh shades of Lee/Dee) learn what it’s really like to be an outcast, but unless the focus starts to move about to the rest of the cast I’m going to lose complete interest. Loving to hate Sue and waiting to see what off the wall thing she’ll say next aren’t enough to keep me watching. I couldn’t care less about Finn, Lea, Will, or Emma. They’re not only uninteresting characters but they’re completely unlikeable, which only makes the continued insistence of focusing on them even more annnoying.
Step it up please. I would love to see a musical series not aimed at tweens be successful in prime time, but right now I’m not sure I want Glee to be that series.