I still haven't gotten around to publishing something about WHY Glee is great--I merely said that it was, and promised to provide details later.
And now, before explaining why it's great, I'm going to complain about something wrong with it.
The last episode, "Throwdown," really disappointed me. I didn't much like it. And I had to think about why. Here's what I came up with: there was too much evil blonde in this episode.
Sue, Quinn, Terri, Terri's sister Kendra--they're all blonde, and they're all more or less villains.
I admit it: Sue is one of the reasons I have loved other episodes. She is one of the great villainesses of all time. But she works best in the show as an accent, rather than a primary ingredient. Too much Sue, and she overwhelms an episode.
Terri is wicked rather than evil, perhaps a spurious distinction since those words are often synonyms, but here's what I mean: she's conniving because she wants something for herself, rather than just to ruin people's lives, the way Iago in Othello did. But in her efforts to get what she wants, Terri is willing to do some pretty dastardly things. She lies, she manipulates, she whines, she gets people arrested, she gives drugs to children. And one of her primary purposes on the show is to impede any sort of relationship between Will and Emma, who clearly belong together, because those characters were, quite literally, made for each other: they were written to be frustrated, thwarted lovers who can't get it on.
Kendra's just plain AWFUL, a one-dimensional caricature whose primary purpose is comic effect. She browbeats her husband and doesn't restrain her children. She helps Terri deceive Will, and she resorts to some pretty serious nastiness in the process.
And then there's Quinn, established early as a mean, rotten, horrible person out to thwart Rachel, one of the show's heroines. Quinn has gotten more complicated lately, but like Terri, she primarily serves to separate more interesting and sympathetic (and non-blond) romantic leads.
There are no regularly featured male characters as rotten as Sue, Terri or Quinn. Sandy is pretty creepy, but he only appears every so often--more often than Kendra, but he's not a regular. Puck has done something pretty awful to Quinn and Finn, and Puck shows up in every episode, but he doesn't always have lines. He's not in the same league as Quinn, Sue and Terri.
And there are also no blond men. All blondes are women. And all blondes are at least a little evil. There is one other blonde--Brittany, also a cheerleader--who isn't as bad as Quinn, but she's not good, like Rachel or Mercedes or Tina.
Not only are all blondes evil and female, their fertility is emphasized by the show, and is part of their evil. Quinn lies about the paternity of her child. Terri lies about her pregnancy. There are these references to how Sue doesn't menstruate or have a uterus, and she uses jokes about fertility to mock Will. Kendra seems to be an out-of-control baby machine, producing homely children she isn't willing to control.
Think about it: is fertility emphasized for anyone else in the show? And as a site of evil? Puck knocked Quinn up, but he gets to be all noble after the fact and insist that he wants to be a good dad to his own child. As for everyone else in the show, we have no clue what their fertility is like.
it's very weird, and very unsettling. I suppose it could just be a coincidence that the big bads of the show are all blonde women, that they held auditions and the best actors for these characters just happened to be blonde. But Quinn is very clearly a bottle blonde. Was this detail written in the descriptions of the characters, I wonder, or did it emerge in the process of creating the show?
I almost feel churlish complaining about this--or, at least, I did, before I started this post. I mean, Sue is a delightful character, so wonderful in her malice and machinations. But the fact is, there's something really gross going on with gender and fertility here, and a specific stereotype of femininity. And I don't like it.
More specifically, I hate Terri and Kendra. Kendra is so annoying, I sigh every time she appears on screen, and as for Terri, I can see that her character's arc has to last the season, but I really hope she isn't around for Season II. Quinn, I don't know what I want to see happen to her.... I guess I don't care. I guess I'm willing to wait and find out.
But I hope we get A) some blonds who aren't female and B) some evil characters who aren't blonde women. I don't want this show to resort to any more easy misogynist cliches.
And I also hope I never see another episode focusing on four evil blondes at once. Given me more Mercedes and Kurt! And when will we get an episode that features Tina the way Rachel, Finn, Mercedes and Kurt have been featured? I think even Arty has had more lines than Tina. Granted, there was that little subplot about Tina getting to sing "Tonight" from West Side Story. But it wasn't an episode about Tina, the way "Preggers" was about Kurt. I think even Arty has had more lines than Tina. Granted, Tina has a stutter, which some might argue is a reason to minimize her lines, but it's not a good reason.
Basically, I want more Glee. I want more joy, more singing, and more high school. Less adult machinations about pregnancy and revenge.