Not So Glee-ful Representations on “Glee”

Hi everyone!

I should probably start by saying that Glee used to be one of my favorite TV shows. I’m definitely excited to be the resident Glee semi-expert for the purposes of providing context during our upcoming class discussion. That being said, it’s a real task looking back on a show I wholeheartedly adored and learning to criticize it. Back in 2009, I was originally floored that the show represented minorities in the relatable setting of a public high school. But in retrospect, I’m beginning to realize why I needed the show in the past versus why I can’t be satisfied with it in the present.

A commonly expressed complaint about Glee’s format by critics and the general viewership is that it tries to accomplish too much. That is to say, its cast has a host of “token” characters that act as monolithic representations of their respective narratives. The main cast is an eclectic ensemble of identities, with one or two characters that are uniquely of a certain race, queer identity, or other disadvantaging characteristic (for example, there’s a boy in a wheelchair, a teacher with OCD, and a cheerleader who has to deal with her teen pregnancy). The show is flawed in attempting to flesh out every single character, instead of having less dimensional roles to support the multi-faceted principle storylines. Though the show offers representation for a lot of groups, it falls flat of satisfactorily developing any of the characters. That’s just what I’ve taken away from my own long-term experience with the show.

This connects to my thoughts after rewatching the episode, “The First Time”, which primarily follows Rachel and Blaine’s decisions to have their first sexual experiences with their respective partners. It’s problematic for Kurt and Blaine to be the only established gay couple in the show, who are strung along the more immoral path of the two narratives to get to the title “first time”. Leticia already pointed out this disparity between Rachel and Finn’s story and that of Kurt and Blaine. The fact that the sanctity Kurt and Blaine’s relationship was threatened by a competing gay, Sebastian, as well as by the “impurity” of the gay night club and nonconsensual advances, is especially scandalous when paralleled with Finn and Rachel’s less sinister misunderstanding. To see these two stories against one another strongly implies a difference in expectation of how *The Gay Relationship* and *The Straight Relationship* are meant to play out.

So, a little about queer comedy. One thing I found interesting about the comedy aspect of both the Glee episode was the tendency for humorous one-liners to be mere supplements to the overarching drama. It seems more necessary for the characters to be treated with serious storylines in this show, and much of the satisfaction in watching it comes from watching them overcome their unique problems. For example, I chuckled at Coach Beiste hastily evacuating the room when Artie suggested more sexual passion to his actors, but this comes back later as the key point that Beiste has never felt sexually attractive to anyone. The Take My Wife episode was a little more successful in providing comic relief separate from the main conflict; in this, it felt more natural in contributing a queer narrative to a mainstream genre.

I wish I could write more about Take My Wife but I feel like this is getting long, so I’ll save my other thoughts for the class discussion!

peace out,
Martina

“Moonlight”: A Mainstream Mediator for Minority

Hello! I really adore movies and, after having watched the beautiful film Moonlight, I’m so ready to add it to my list of favorites. I have a lot of thoughts about it, maybe too many focusing on the cinematography, but I’ll try my best to link it back to the topics at hand.

The creators of Moonlight have such an intelligent method of storytelling that allows for a subtle, more natural realization of love and identity than many mainstream films. All aspects of its production point at conveying specific and nuanced tones throughout the film, exploring so much of its own themes without explicitly declaring them. My favorite example of this is the entire diner scene in which Kevin and Chiron finally reunite as men who have had the chance to experience their individual ups and downs. The use of dialogue or sometimes the lack thereof when they react to each other’s admissions is outstanding, as they each show how relieved they are to meet again and how much they have thought about each other over the years. For example, Kevin is visibly disappointed that Black has been dealing drugs and indirectly tells him so, saying that “that ain’t [Chiron]”. Black’s subsequent indignance at this points to the conflict that has been ever-present in Chiron’s life: he knows he isn’t himself as a “hard”, hypermasculine drug dealer, but he’s also so aware of the impossibility of behaving otherwise in the face of society. Even the hopeful conclusion of the movie is not explicitly stated, which is fitting since even with coming out and finding requited love, Kevin and Chiron’s share an embrace embodies both the relief in finding someone to share one’s true self and the support one needs to face a hostile future.

Moonlight has the power to feel real and relatable to an underrepresented intersection of identities, and so existence as a previously untold queer narrative is crucial. It’s interesting to consider that Moonlight’s value is not only in its representation of a gay black man in a community that follows traditional ideals of masculinity, but also in its exceptional beauty as a film. Perhaps a combination of its novel subject matter and its skillful handling of such was necessary to bring the movie to the mainstream, and this popularity allows it to speak to a wider audience and generate more social discussion. It certainly adds a unique and important voice to the entire body of film that is out there for us to consume.

I’m excited to talk more about this film and its implications in class. As for Sabina Vaught’s piece, I certainly found it more challenging to understand but that’s even more reason to figure out Vaught’s intentions with other people.

peace out,

Martina