Guest Posts / LGBTQ / TV / Women and Gender

Guest Post: Lessons I Have Learned From ‘Glee’

Written by Lady T. Originally published at The Funny Feminist. Cross-posted with permission.

I gave up watching entire episodes of Glee for the most part (though I briefly checked in to watch “Mash-Off” because I liked all the songs). As someone who likes to pay attention to Things Going On in the media, however, I have read other reviews of the latest batch of episodes and absorbed some of the major storylines.

Over the past two and a half years, Glee has transitioned from a dark comedy to a show about messages. The Glee 3-D Concert Movie (or whatever the official title is, I can’t be bothered to look it up) was a movie dedicated to the show kissing its own ass about how many wonderful messages it sends kids these days.

Well, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the lessons I have learned from these years of watching Glee.

1. Bullying is serious business, except when it’s not.
The bullying of Kurt is bad, except when he’s being comically tossed into dumpsters. Sue calling Kurt “Lady” is bullying, but Sue shoving an old woman down a flight of stairs is hilarious. Artie being locked in a Port-a Potty is serious, but a one-off joke about Puck shoving Artie down stairs in his wheelchair is perfectly acceptable.

Why are some instances serious and worthy of public service announcements while others are meant to be hilarious? Uh, because the writers said so.

2. Ambitious women need to be put in their places.
It’s not enough for Rachel Berry to have to learn the same lesson over and over again about being too ambitious and stepping all over other people to get what she wants. Now, she has to learn a lesson and be put in her place even when she cheats to help a friend. Even when she does something for another person, she needs to learn a lesson about wanting things too much. How dare Rachel want things for herself and other people.

(As a side note, I hope this particular item on the list will discourage posters from being overly concerned that I’m not kissing Lea Michele’s ass enough for their tastes. For the record: I neither love nor hate Rachel Berry, I neither love nor hate Lea Michele, I acknowledge that Lea is a very talented singer, but I often don’t enjoy watching her perform, and nothing you say will make me change my mind. The performers I enjoy watching the most are Darren Criss, Naya Rivera, Harry Shum Jr., and Chris Colfer, and that’s a completely subjective opinion, not a fact.)

3. Lesbians exist as more than objects for the male gaze, except for when they don’t.
I can’t think of a better song for a lesbian to sing about being out and proud than Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” the anthem for bi-curious women who like to kiss other women for the sake of titillating their boyfriends, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate female homosexuality than to have a bunch of girls writhe all over each other to please their male classmates and fellow club members.

Oh, wait. Yes. Yes, I can. I can think of many better ways to do that.

4. Bullies all secretly hate themselves and are deeply insecure people.
They’re never narcissists with inflated senses of entitlement who honestly don’t care about the feelings of others, despite overwhelming research that proves just this.

5. Straight people get to decide when gay people should come out of the closet./Boys get to decide when girls have to face their issues./Friends are allowed to tell friends how to handle their problems.
Remember, folks, if you have a friend (or frenemy, or someone you once banged and then described the experience as meaning “nothing” to you who you now suddenly care about) who is dealing with a personal problem, the best way to help that friend is to put said friend in a forced intervention. If the friend objects to this show of support for whatever reason, you can ignore it, because you know what’s good for your friend better than your friend does. Besides, if the friend initially is sarcastic, s/he’ll eventually be completely grateful for your forced help. Just keep persisting.

After all, we all know that “no” really means “yes.”

Speaking of which…

6. Rape is still totally hilarious.
Brittany described her first time having sex as taking place in cheerleading camp when a boy crawled into her tent. Then she says it was an “alien invasion.” So, she was probably raped. LOL, right?

Gosh, folks, I have so many more important lessons that I have learned from watching Glee, but I don’t have the time to write them all! Why don’t you readers add to the list in comments, and share the wonderful things you have learned from this remarkably progressive and message-y show!


Lady T is an aspiring writer and comedian with two novels, a play, and a collection of comedy sketches in progress. She hopes to one day be published and finish one of her projects (not in that order). You can find more of her writing at The Funny Feminist, where she picks apart entertainment and reviews movies she hasn’t seen.

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2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Lessons I Have Learned From ‘Glee’

  1. I like to read posts that bash GLEE because I hate everything about GLEE except the music.
    Glee is problematic because the characters don’t grow, change or have to deal with anything in any significant manner. In fact, the plot of GLEE is only worthwhile insofar as it can produce songs for the characters to sing.

    Also, I think you’ve completely missed the point with Rachel’s character. She’s intolerable, overbearing, irrationally selfish and completely self-absorbed at an unsustainable and unethical level. She doesn’t seem to understand how the other characters perceive her, or perhaps she doesn’t care? And you so eloquently missed the part where Rachel sends a young filipina girl to a crack house in a bad part of town – putting her physically in danger – because Rachel is threatened by her talent. Just because Rachel is a girl (and white) doesn’t exclude her from being an unlikeable character. From you description, it seems that because Rachel is ambitious and a girl, she’s somehow being victimized by the other characters which isn’t the case – at all. Rachel is not a likeable character, and her “ambition” is more along the lines of compulsion, rampant insecurity and low self-esteem.

    This review overlooks the ethnic characters in the show – or what little exist. Not once is the stereotyping of Asian culture mentioned – “an Asian F” – an episode where Michael gets an A- and his father tells him that he can’t dance, date or sing anymore because it’s too distracting. Or how Mercedes, the lone black character, is criticized as being irrational for speaking up for herself. And how, at one point Mercedes was dating Sam but that story was instantly scrapped – Sam was kicked off the show and Mercedes goes to date the only black guy in the school. Santana – who is Spanish in the show (the woman who plays her is multiracial) – has almost no back story and Tina rarely gets chance to sing or stand out unless she’s being showcases alongside her boyfriend, Michael (who gets significantly more screen time). Also, GLEE seems uncomfortably obsessed with Michael and Tina being Asian, and I remember earlier in the show, Michael would preface a lot of things he said to Tina as “asian *fill in the blank*” (ie: asian kisses).

    GLEE doesn’t handle its characters very well, so many of them are tropes, or caricatures. The show lacks depth and relies on stereotypes to sustain itself. If it weren’t for the music and occasional hilarious moment, then GLEE could possibly be off the air by now.

    • Also, I think you’ve completely missed the point with Rachel’s character.

      This review overlooks the ethnic characters in the show – or what little exist.

      I could comment, but let me direct you instead to re-read the last paragraph of the review:

      Gosh, folks, I have so many more important lessons that I have learned from watching Glee, but I don’t have the time to write them all! Why don’t you readers add to the list in comments, and share the wonderful things you have learned from this remarkably progressive and message-y show!

      I’ve also commented on the racist aspects of Glee several times at the blog from which this was originally cross-posted. I’m sure you’ll be able to find those posts more quickly than it took you type that comment criticizing THIS post for being lacking.

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