There’s Nothing Ironic About Show Choir

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I’ve been uncharacteristically sparing in adding new shows to my packed tv schedule, but the best addition so far has been Glee, which is pretty much designed to appeal to my sensibilities as a music theatre enthusiast. The musical numbers are fantastic and many are hilariously ill-suited to high school, like Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” or Kanye’s “Gold-Digger,” but the classics like West Side Story also make an appearance. The biggest thing that brings me out of the show (for others it’s the football inaccuracies or having musical numbers at all, which, btw, I think is ridiculous. If you’ve already suspended your disbelief that people talk to each other while simultaneously facing the audience and men are wearing makeup it seems inane to draw the line at bursting into song) is the characters’ insistence that Rachel and Finn are the only really talented members of the Glee Club when clearly ALL of them are excellent singers. It’s basically the musical version of tv ugly or tv fat: crack on one note at the end of a song and suddenly you’re not a talented singer. Though, on reflection, that’s certainly better than listening to 42 minutes people singing off key.

The show is not without its faults, though. I think it’s pretty evenly divided between an interesting story about kids and a stupid story about adults (Kurt’s dad from the most recent episode excepted, but that was about a kid anyway).

The kids all seem to have some depth and a lack of Mary Sue-ism that I like. Rachel is the kid most music theatre fans would most easily identify with– very talented, an outsider, plans for the future. But she’s also really selfish and rude and hurtful to everyone lower on the social totem pole than she is, and she got their old Glee teacher fired on somewhat trumped up charges of inappropriate touching, which seemed easy to believe as he was gay.

Similarly Kurt could be a gay, closeted stereotype, but it seems like the only person he wasn’t out to is his dad. Last week he easily came out to a friend, and he doesn’t seem to be desperately trying to not be gay. The old Glee teacher, on the other hand, is a ridiculous stereotype. He might as well be wandering around the set randomly generating gay phrases about Fosse hands and window treatments.

Quinn was likeable and sympathetic in this last episode, she had her own plans for future involving getting out of the town which pregnancy ruined. Her choice to pin it on Finn seemed to be about what’s best for her baby, not just what’s best for her.

The adults on the other hand… not so great. It’s patently obvious that Will and Emma need to get together, and it’s only the craaaazy manipulative wife who’s keeping them apart. Which is completely boring and unnuanced, and I’m not exactly stoked about another will they or won’t they.

My only real concern going forward (I LOVE this show, btw) is that there’s a real element of “women are the WORST.” Must we really have both male leads be manipulated by their partners with pregnancies that are, in some way faked? Is that all women do when you’re in a relationship: lie to you and try to take your money? Are we really supposed to have no sympathy for Will’s wife, a woman whose husband obviously has one foot out the door? Are we supposed to think Quinn is a bitch for cheating on Finn, but that Finn is just with the wrong woman when he cheats on Quinn with Rachel?

I hope for better from this show, which has proven itself to be clever and sweet, and misogyny is anything but clever.

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2 Responses to “There’s Nothing Ironic About Show Choir”

  1. lauredhel Says:

    “My only real concern going forward (I LOVE this show, btw) is that there’s a real element of “women are the WORST.””

    Definitely. I also have major, major problems with the backgrounding of the characters of colour and characters with disabilities. It’s no coincidence that the only kids you mention are the white able-bodied kids – they’re the only ones who’ve had significant development – so far, they’ve only been foils for the pretty white kids. The way Artie is used as a prop has particularly bugged me.

  2. gnatalby Says:

    That’s a really good point. In either the first or second episode I remember Rachel snapping that it was stupid to have a kid in a wheelchair sing “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat” and I couldn’t tell if we were supposed to take that as “God, Rachel is AWFUL” or if we were supposed to think, “What a wit!”

    But I think this falls into the hipster racism area, where if your joke would funny to someone who is “unironically” ableist, then it’s just ableist.

    I’m actually unclear about whether or not Rachel should be considered white in the show, since she’s from rural Ohio, where Ashkenazi Jews are sometimes considered an ethnic “other.” On the other hand, the audience of the show is primarily not rural, and Ashkenazi Jews are widely considered to be white by most Americans (including most Jews).

    Regardless, if the show wants to pat itself on the back (as it did last week with the Benneton ad comment) it should be giving the rest of the cast more to do.

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