While They Were In There I Told Them to Go Ahead and Yank Out Those Tear Ducts

by

Apparently Doostyn and I are sorcerers, because we got practically everything we wanted from Glee this week! Yay I can just love you as you as you are you tricksy show!!!

Rachel was great as usual. I laughed at her line about her gay dads having a close relationship with the ACLU. I love practically every mention of her gay dads though, so I have a bias. Lea Michele is a really good actress too, she really inhabits everything about the role. When Will said they’d be voting for who was in the pictures you could see the tendons in her neck tense. The outfit she wore for the photos looked like an insane ice-dancing outfit for a Wizard of Oz number, which I would kind of enjoy seeing, I’m not going to lie.

I just identify with her so much, as a former self righteous yet clueless and annoying theatre nerd myself. Rachel just thinks that if she’s just truly authentically herself people will be charmed, which sometimes works, like with the mattress commercial but sometimes really doesn’t, like her pitch to Britney. “I don’t want to be in that picture with you, it will get defaced… I’ll be the one doing it.” But as usual her number with Finn was my favorite of the episode, partly because I love Lily Allen more than is seemly and the video for that song is a work of schadenfreude genius. She scratches all his records, throws his clothes in the toilet, and feeds him laxatives… who *doesn’t* want to do that to a cheating ex??

Sue Sylvester was amazing as usual. Her How Sue Cs It rant made me laugh a lot: “All I want is just one day a year where I’m not visually assaulted by uglies and fatties. Seriously Ohio, these retinas need a day off! So here’s the dream: Friday after Christmas, which I have off, if you’re hideous [shrug] stay at home. Spend the entire day watching home videos of a time when you weren’t too repulsive for me to ever want to look at.”

I feel like whenever Sue says something outrageous there are people who get offended, and that’s actually one of the big reasons I hated the “Sue has a heart” storyline the other work. First off, disabled family members are not automatic get of being an asshole free card. Plenty of people are jerks generally but have it in them to make an exception for certain people. But in order for the things Sue says to be funny, she has to be cartoonishly villainous, that’s what makes it satire. There really are people who think and say things like this about fat people or ugly people (see street harassment, the comments of any gossip blog, or the times your friend has pointed out a woman in public and said she shouldn’t be wearing that), and by making Sue say them, the writers of Glee are saying: “Only a real asshole thinks like this.”

Most importantly though, Glee heeded our prayers and dealt with the fake pregnancy, thank god. No more pregnancy shenanigans! Unfortunately, they did this in a way that made Will seem super rapey. Unlike Sue, we are supposed to think Will is a good guy, one of the moral centers of the show, this despite his many actions of extreme weenie assholery. It was pretty disturbing to see the show basically excuse domestic violence because hey, Mr. Shue is a hero and Terri really is the worst therefore it’s not that bad that he yelled at her to left up her shirt, pinned her to the wall ,and ripped part of her clothes off. This while the camera stayed tight on their hard-breathing faces and close lips. I don’t care what Terri did, violence and threats are not ok. Making said violent act look like sexy time is not ok. (Sure there are plenty of people who like a little consensual violence in their sex, but it’s neither here nor there, this wasn’t consensual and I’m not watching the Anne Rice Pony Play channel.) And to have Will storm out while Terri begged for him to come back just made me feel ill.

Again, the crucial point here is that Will is supposed to be a good guy. We’re supposed to watch this scene and be on his side.

Finally, Will steps down as Glee director, but this ain’t my first rodeo, I know he’ll be back, much as I may wish it otherwise. In his parting address to the kids he said: “The best teachers don’t give you the answers, they just point the way and let you make your own choices, your own mistakes. That way you get all the glory. And you deserve it. If you can’t win without me there, then I haven’t done my job.”

That is what the best teachers do Will, and I think we can extrapolate some things from the fact that this is basically the opposite of your behavior. Unless you have some other way to explain your creepy solo-stealing under the guise of “showing you how it’s done” or the time tried to make the club sing “Le Freak” when they told you they wanted to sing “Push It.”

Or the time earlier this same episode when you ignored the kids desire to not be humiliated in the yearbook.

Will is like Allison on Melrose Place or Kelly Taylor: you can tell the writers think he’s really great and want you to think he’s an amazing guy, a real Mary Sue, but they’ve given him all these *really* unpleasant personality traits, seemingly without knowing how annoying or abhorrent they are.

It makes me think that no matter how much I love the show– and I do!– I would probably really not enjoy hanging out with the people who write it. Unless I start finding extreme narcissism, inappropriate boundaries, and creepy sexual behavior toward minors to suddenly be appealing personality traits.

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14 Responses to “While They Were In There I Told Them to Go Ahead and Yank Out Those Tear Ducts”

  1. cgeye Says:

    I don’t know if Ryan Murphy knows how to craft a protagonist any other way. Male ones have sexual harassment and assault in their DNA, and their women are surprisingly able to take anything, until they turn psycho.

  2. DukeLaw Says:

    That’s odd. In real life, we have a golf star crashing his car, having facial lacerations with his rear window bashed in by a golf club and there will be no investigation and somehow you’re bashing Glee for a “domestic violence” scene that contains literally no aspect of domestic battery.

    Here’s a little blurb on the difference between a fight and battery (since you seem to need some education on that front).

    What is the difference between fighting and battering?
    Arguments, disagreements and differences of opinion are parts of normal relationships. What distinguishes an abusive relationship is an ongoing pattern of disproportionate control and coercion. The “fight” is not between people of equal power, but occurs within a relationship in which there is an imbalance of power and the use of abusive control tactics by one party.

    And if you think that scene was violent and unwarranted, I guess you live in a land of lilies and roses that the rest of us “real people” don’t dwell in.

    And PS, I’m sure the writers know what they’re doing with Mr. Shue. Every character in this show has their flaws and their strengths (that’s why we find out about Sue’s sister) and I don’t think there’s any pretense that Will’s an examplar of any sort (that’s why he’s stuck as a Spanish teacher with a shrill wife and why he ends up having to dig change out of his own pocket because even the principal owns him).

  3. GOP Says:

    I don’t think the writers are as hung up with Will being the “moral center” as you believe. Remember, this is an individual who blackmailed Finn into joining the group by pretending to find marijuana in the students locker. He also has a tendency to project his own goals on the kids- like you mentioned earlier with song choices. I believe the show does have him firmly in the camp of “good guy”, but it’s a less concrete position.

  4. Sadako Says:

    “First off, disabled family members are not automatic get of being an asshole free card.”

    So true. This is one of my pet peeves, too.

    There’s actually a whole Frasier ep I love about it where Frasier doesn’t want to hurt this annoying guy’s feelings by saying he doesn’t feel like being friends because of the guy’s personality so he tells him it’s because of the wheelchair and all of Cafe Nervosa yells at him for being intolerant.

  5. Sasha-feather Says:

    This post has been included in a linkspam at access-fandom. Thank you!

  6. gnatalby Says:

    @DukeLaw:

    Wow, thanks for the mansplaining, my poor little lady brain was too overwhelmed. It’s possible to care both about real life and the culture we consume– practically every website I read talked about the Tiger Woods situation, but perhaps you don’t venture out past MRA websites too much.

    When a man rips the clothes off his wife and pins her to the wall that is a violent behavior that goes beyond what should be occurring in marriage. If not having that happen in my relationships means I live in “a land of lillies and roses” (which um…. lillies and roses do exist in the land in which I live….) then I guess that’s that.

    Sorry your expectations are so low.

  7. gnatalby Says:

    @GOP:

    Good points about Will, I *had* forgotten how he got Finn to join the Club.

    I find that I compare Glee a lot of Murphy’s other show that’s on right now, Nip/Tuck. On Nip/Tuck everyone is horrible, which means they can get away with a lot because it’s very clear that none of these people is a role model.

    I think Glee was in this mold at the beginning, which is part of why I fell in love with it, but then it started doing things that made me think of it as a more standard moralistic show, like having very special disability episodes.

  8. gnatalby Says:

    @Sasha: Thank you!

    @Sadako: I love Frasier and that episode sounds great!

  9. attack_laurel Says:

    Followed you from Shakesville. :)

    I find I frequently have to get up and do something else while my husband watches Glee (I love the music, but the behaviour of the characters winds me up emotionally), in part because the damn series can’t decide what it is. Is it outright satire, like Parks and Recreation? Or is it a feel-good comedy, like Community?

    (My favourite shows right now, natch.)

    The characters are all caricatures, circling around what supposed to be the only “real” character, but he’s as bad as any of them, then he’s good, then he’s an asshole, then… If they’re all parodies, they’re not consistent enough, since they keep trying for sympathy. If they’re supposed to be real, they fail utterly, especially since every woman on the show is completely one-dimensional and awful (and in that vein, the Sue subplot doesn’t work, and I totally agree with the “not a get-out-of-assholishness-free card” statement).

    But oh my word, I did absolutely love Kurt’s version of “Defying Gravity” – so much, I have it on my shuffle, and have been listening to it constantly. Of course, Rachel gets the solo, because she always gets the solo, but seems utterly unaware of the fact, since every attempt to give the solo to someone else results in her sulking as if it was her only chance, ever (one of the reasons I can’t watch – it’s too mean to do that to her character, as even the most drama-licious of the drama girls I knew in school understood that sometimes someone else deserves a chance).

    And DukeLaw? Nothing happens in a vacuum. Social commentary on the fiction we produce in a culture that glorifies violence and sees real-life violence as tabloid entertainment is relevant. Nice derailing attempt, though – you get the “but there are more important things to worry about!” bingo square.

  10. gnatalby Says:

    I love Kurt’s “Defying Gravity” it gives me chills, and I thought the episode attached did a good job of showing why that song is relevant to his life, not to Rachel’s, although she got the solo in the end.

    I totally agree about the women on Glee. I think the first or second time I wrote about it I talked about how the partners of the main character guys– Terri and Quinn– are both horrible and manipulative in this specific weird way of pandering to guys who think women are out to trap you and steal your money while keeping you from true happiness. It’s basically a high five coming out of the tv to be like, “Right Bro? Girlfriends are the worst.”

    I love the show best when it’s being over-the-top, and if it would just commit to musical numbers and Sue style bad behavior it would be a lot better. I feel like the attempt to be more broadly appealing than Nip/Tuck or Popular (both less popular Murphy shows) they try to shoehorn in sincere messages that end up revealing some ugly things about what the writers thing morality is.

  11. doostyn Says:

    @DukeLaw:

    “I don’t think there’s any pretense that Will’s an examplar of any sort (that’s why he’s stuck as a Spanish teacher with a shrill wife and why he ends up having to dig change out of his own pocket because even the principal owns him).”

    Honestly? You don’t think that we are supposed to feel bad for Will for being stuck with a “shrill wife” and having to do noble things like “dig change out of his own pocket because even the principal owns him”? These examples you give seem like reasons to justify Will’s good character (or at the very least pity him, which isn’t the same as making him non-exemplary) and just give further credence to his moral authority good guy-ness. Remember how the show takes it at face value that Will would make a good father? Or that, as the counselor says, he’s too good to lose? This show loves Will, he’s supposed to be a charismatic, well-meaning, morally sound anchor for this show, and gnatalby and I aren’t buying this particular piece of what Glee is selling.

    Too bad there’s no doubt he’ll be back as Glee director. I just hope someone besides Sue (who is not exactly even-tempered enough to be a great judge of character) eventually calls him out for being an attention-seeking idiot who often does way more harm when he’s trying to do good.

    Also, I find it strange that you think the actions gnatalby described that Will takes against Terri are at all excusable. This was not a simple disagreement or argument. This was violent, intimidating behavior, and Terri looked frightened for her safety. Even if you find behavior like this to be simply part of a “normal relationship,” it is not okay by any standard, legal or otherwise. That scene was creepy and uncomfortable, and it made Will seem not only stupid (for not thinking it’s weird he hadn’t seen his own wife’s stomach for a few months’ time), but something I had never found him to be until this point, abusive.

  12. Andrea Says:

    Ugh, I am So. Over. Will. I wish there were a way to just get rid of that character!! Great post, as always!

  13. Deb Says:

    JESUS!!!!!! Of course we’re supposed to feel syphathetic for Will hes one of the main protagonists. If we didn’t the show would be extremely shallow and lose much of its emotional and dramatic depth. AND since i know whats going to be said to that comment, YES, the characters are portrayed more as caricatures, but lets face it, without this quality Glee would suck. Besides just because the characters have over the top, and at times even the adult characters have elements akin tochildishness, it does not make them 2D. In fact the opposite is true, by making the characters, as i see it, have almost childlike qualities, their motivations become evident.

    Teri’s motivation for hiding the baby from Will was clear from the start. She panicked and didn’t want to lose him, then, pushed by her sister made bad choices in order to keep the most important thing in her life. Also (and this is the thing that made me reply to this post), the fight between Will and Teri in no way advocated domestic violence. Indeed aspects of domestic violence could be seen in the physicality of the scene, but violence itself was never even unintentionally advocated or excused. This was ensured by the way we as watchers were allowed to once again understand the motivations for Terri’s actions. In the end we feel sorry for Mr Shue mainly because we can understand where his anger is coming from. Certainly its not an excuse for domestic violence yet all he did was throw a pregnancy pad against the wall and rip off a fake baby bump. Personally, I believe it was a fairly realistic representation of how a person like Will would have handled such an event. He lost his cool, but honestly, who wouldn’t? As i see it Teri wasn’t backing away from Will because she was afraid he would hurt her, but because she was afraid of the consequence of him finding out (him leaving her). In addition the sexual overtones you have interpreted, i believe was not meant to be as sexual as you have stated. For me it was simply a poignant moment where there close proximity clearly juxtaposed how far they really felt from each other. Also, I don’t quite understand what you would have rather Will have done when he found out. Certainly it could not have been for a happy forgiveness moment. Something like this is not just gotten over that quickly.

    FINALLY, (@ attack_laurel) this isn’t exactly a high-brow, piece of realism. In order to enjoy the show you need to accept the characters for being in a format more akin to most traditional musicals, that is, over the top and almost unrealistic. (Eg look at Glinda from Wicked or even Tracey from Hairspray. Both are wildly exagerated characters, but have a fundamental humanity that is recognisable, and allows them to be understood) The joy found in this show stems from allowing complete acceptance of things that in the real world would not be, and surrendering to a world full of music and drama.

  14. gnatalby Says:

    @Deb: Let’s not bring Him into this. ;)

    I definitely didn’t want Will to forgive her right away, and what I wanted out of the scene is hard to answer, because I wish that the whole fake pregnancy storyline had never happened.

    I guess I wish that the show had stayed with Terri and her reaction, instead of sympathetically following Will. I think it’s pretty clear (from the romantic crescendo of Will and Emma) that we were supposed to think Will was in the right and Terri was wrong. I think you’re being much more charitable to Terri than the show is.

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