I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus for the last couple months, which I’m sure a few of you have noticed (or not). In October, I entered mommyhood. This has been an interesting period of transition, to say the least. Perhaps one day I’ll write about it. Interestingly, mommyhood has affected my perception of kids/teens in some of my favorite TV shows. Today, I’ll look at Glee.
To be over-30 and a “Gleek” seems silly, the same way that being a Potter-fan was perceived 10(!) years ago. I find the show to be a very guilty pleasure. With the exception of last season, I’ve watched the show faithfully on Hulu since it launched. I’m not sure what attracts me to the show. It’s certainly NOT the glee club remixes of pop songs and show tunes. And it’s certainly NOT the forced union between song and story.
I do appreciate that the characters have realistic storylines. The first season dealt with high school crushes and teen pregnancy. The second season dealt with bullying, homosexuality and being “out.” The third season dealt with graduation, teen fears of moving on, abuse, and winter pregnancy. This current season is dealing with growing up post-graduation, bullying, and eating disorders.
Here are a few of my thoughts about specifics.
**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**
I love Coach Beiste. When they first introduced her in season two, it seemed as though it was a cruel joke—a not-so-feminine woman coaching the football team? The kids on the show made fun of her more often than not. It wasn’t until they revealed her soft side that her place on the show changed. She became a sort of Tiresias, the Greek mystic who, in mythology, spent time as both a man and a woman, and is called upon to address life’s mysteries. Beiste offers motivational advice to the students and love advice to anyone who asks. How she accomplishes this is through sports metaphor and simple answers. Her perspectives are spot-on at the time when a character is going through a major turning point. In the third season, she finally finds love, only to find out that the man she loves is abusive. She goes back and forth about whether or not to leave him, finally deciding that she needed to. The strength and advice she needed came from the same students she was constantly motivating.
I’m not necessarily a big fan of Marley, but I am a fan of her plot. She’s the daughter of the new, very large school lunchlady. She has been to several other schools and has been run off when people realize who her mom is. They bully both her and her mom on a regular basis. They haven’t, as of yet, explored the mom’s reaction to the bullying (is she really that much of an emotional rock?), but Marley doesn’t take it well and tries to stand up for her. What has developed so far is that she has become the target of the head cheerleader, Kitty, who is the bulliest of them all. Kitty sabotaged Marley’s costume for Grease to give her a complex about her weight—telling her that she has the “fat gene.” In one touching scene, Marley talks to her mom about her weight. We learn that mom gained her weight as a result of comfort eating her way through a very traumatic divorce. Nonetheless, Kitty is getting through to Marley, and the suggestion is made that Kitty has talked Marley into dappling with bulimia. This can’t end well. I hope that Marley comes through OK, and that Kitty gets some sort of awakening about how her words and actions hurt, and can potentially, kill people. This season has gotten too cluttered, so this may be the Big One they are saving for Spring Sweeps.
I’ve never liked Rachel, and I still don’t. I don’t like that she got away with being hyper-pushy and full of herself for three seasons, and I’m not a fan of “belting” pop singers. What I will grant is how her character changed as a result of moving to New York and going to NYADA, a performing arts school that has revealed to her that she’s really a small fish in a big pond. I keep hoping that plots such as the one involving Cassandra July and Rachel’s post-Finn crush Brody will toughen her up. She’s way too naïve.
How can I write about Glee and not write about Sue? She’s my other favorite supporting character. In fact, I recently watched a couple of Christopher Guest films just because I love her character so much. She’s the bully of all bullies, but what sets her apart is that her soft spot is closer to the surface than the show implies. Her snarky comments inspire the New Directions to be awesome, and when a situation calls for it—such as intervening on Coach Beiste—she is soft and responsive. One of my favorite scenes with her was the funeral for her sister, who had Down’s Syndrome. Because her favorite movie was Willy Wonka, the Glee Club performed “Pure Imagination” in tribute. This season, they have only mentioned Sue’s Down’s Syndrome baby a couple times. They have, however, created a new tension between Sue and the New Directions by having Finn Hudson, McKinley Alum and temporary replacement for Will Sheuster (who is off in Washington for most of this season), call her baby “retarded.” For the first time in the history of the show, Sue is fully enraged and is fighting Finn and the Glee Club all the way, even though Finn did apologize. This will be another plot that I’m sure will come to a head in Spring Sweeps. A very deserved rage, I say. War is on. Sue is Agamemnon, and the Glee Club is Troy. Perhaps this war won’t come to the same tragic end.