Did Musical TV Show Get Messages “Glee”fully Mixed-Up?
By John C.
As a regular viewer of the hit TV show Glee, I often enjoy the diverse musical numbers put on by the teenaged characters and the good messages that the show has to offer. But from day 1, particularly the less than impressive first few episodes, the show has been hit-and-miss. Sometime’s we’ll get a moment so great that I know why the show is on the air, and other times, even if it is well-intentioned, it seems to get its messages all mixed up. I’m sure I am not the only one who found the seeming “it’s good to be goth” messages of last week’s Lady Gaga episode to be entirely misplaced and irresponsible.
With the strange popularity of Twilight ever on the rise, I’m not sure why we have to see a show like Glee promoting such dark culture. The show’s message did not come across as people should accept you no matter who you are, but rather that you can only truly express yourself by being a freak, breaking rules and mocking other’s beliefs. Why does a show that is meant to be about the acceptance of others, feel it okay to relentlessly throw a slushy into the face of certain groups?
The Christian principal was painted as a villain, just because he didn’t want his students dressing like goths. The best excuse the writers could come up with was that he thought that then they would turn into bats. There’s a difference between trying to express yourself, and breaking a casual dress code. At this point, several characters dressed up in tacky and offensive costumes inspired by the tacky and bizarre fashions worn by Lady Gaga. Why is it okay for the Glee kids to wear ridiculous costumes to school, but not anyone else? At this point it stopped being about expressing yourself, and just about granting ridiculous requests simply because those asking are minorities.
From what I’ve seen of Lady Gaga, I don’t really consider her the musical genius most have painted her to be, with a lot of her songs simply ripped from the 1980′s and some of her performances and fashion choices seeming more like an odd icon of the state of our current society and culture. Perhaps the show’s recent messages would not have been as mixed up had she not been treated as a role model. I found the confusing messages of last week’s Glee to be completely black and white, and quite frankly should have been second-guessed before airing.
The show sometimes walks a fine line between being all-inclusive, and promoting the dark and dangerous paths taken by the characters. A show should not make you either love or hate it’s characters depending on the episode. At the best of times, Glee is an uplifting show about the power of being different. At the worst of times, it only serves to justify all the negative publicity it has gotten from the press, including religious and parent groups. The show is also sometimes inadvertently offensive in its portrayal of certain minorities. The wheelchair-enabled Artie’s physical dance number seemed to try and justify the use of talented able-bodied actor Kevin McHale, but seemed almost like a mocking of the active wheelchair community.
But on the flipside, we can not only focus on the negatives. Even in last week’s episode, there were still a few moments that rang true. The first being a song sang to the pregnant Quinn, and the second an empowering – (if admittedly a little one-sided, considering the actual context) – speech made by the father of openly gay student Kurt. Throughout the season we’ve also gotten some very sweet moments with cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester’s (Jane Lynch) sister who has Down Syndrome, portraying the soft side of one of the show’s most nasty characters. I also recently enjoyed the show-stopping number with guest star Neil Patrick Harris, but the season high point has still been a cover of the song “Imagine,” done by the Glee kids and a deaf choir. This is to name but only a few of the best moments.
Sometimes one episode of Glee will tackle so many issues that it just ends up feeling counter-productive. We’ve already seen 20 of this seasons 22 episodes, and it’s a pretty even split between good and otherwise. Sometimes the show reaches a level of near-greatness, but other times it’s almost painful. For every inspiring and moving moment, there is another that seems to get it all wrong. Perhaps it would have been better suited as a really good 10-12 episode mini-series, rather than a 22-episode season, that just ends up being hit-and-miss.
The best episodes of Glee I look forward to revisiting on DVD. The worst episodes should have had a serious re-write. If Glee continues to preach mixed messages, then the TV show, despite it’s many good moments, may end up losing a viewer. But I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen as, more often than not, I actually enjoy watching the show and the strong musical numbers it has to offer.