When I was first introduced to Glee last spring, it was love at first sight. The premiere did all the right things: it was funny, irreverent, quirky and, most importantly, featured an ass-kicking rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Then I had an entire summer to nurture my Glee crush (absence does make the heart grow fonder). But when Glee returned in the Fall of 2009, still basking in the glow of that near perfect premiere, I started to notice some flaws: why did the show’s promotional materials hail its diverse cast—including an African-American, an Asian, a homosexual and a paraplegic—yet sideline them within the show’s diegesis? Why were performance numbers so overproduced and unnatural? And why did character motivations seem to turn on a dime, depending on the whims of the narrative? Yes, Glee seemed perfect during our first date, but after a few episodes I began noticing its beer gut and its toupee. And wait, did Glee just tell me a racist joke? Uh oh…
Like any bad boyfriend, Glee infuriates and then woos me back again, never allowing me to make a clean break and end the relationship. I find the show to be shrill and simplistic one moment and heartfelt and complex the next. And it’s pretty tough to find any television show that features musical performances (something I love in any medium).
After reading the weekly Glee columns featured on Antenna (a media and cultural studies blog operated and edited by graduate students and faculty in the Media and Cultural Studies area of the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin – Madison) I was pleased to see that many other ardent “Gleeks” were also uncomfortable with the show’s mixture of intoxicating musical numbers and casual racism/sexism/anti-Semitism. This week I’ve added my own two cents to the “Glee Club.” If you’d like to read my column on this week’s episode, “Funk,” and join in the discussion, you can go ahead and click here.
And I promise to get back to writing for this blog soon as long as you promise to watch my baby for me. You will? Great!