Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Glee: Sexy

Thoughts on "Sexy"

1. Oh, my god, I love what they're doing with Kurt and Blaine. That portion of the sex-ed PSA that this episode tried to do was really good, and it's something that is not typically discussed. And while I think some high schoolers would be able to ask their health teachers about information for gay teens, at the same time, a lot of teens aren't out! And that's a barrier. And parents are often much less prepared to talk to their gay teens than straight ones, and I'm really glad that was part of the episode.

2. The Brittany-Santana storyline was awesome. Before my women's studies class began today several of us had a little squeaky session praising Glee's treatment of queer sexuality. (Just to clarify: "queer" has had a history of usage in a derogatory way, but is accepted in academia and has been reclaimed and has helped constitute "queer theory" which is a much more all-inclusive look at LGBTQQIA people, without the long-ass acronym. In case people are used to seeing that word as a slur, I wanted to make it clear that I am using it because I am pointing to the queer community's appropriation and redefinition of the word that has made it positive.) There was the mention of the fluidity of sexuality on the show! That's really, really novel! Jezebel, as usual, my source for everything, has two really good posts about it, so go here and here for more. I basically agree with everything they're saying.

3. The other parts of the episode were somewhat bizarre. Rachel has sworn to herself that she must use her youth and talent to their fullest and forgo romantic relationships until she is a true, professional diva on Broadway, so she ends up in... the Celibacy Club?? Which has turned into Emma, Rachel and Quinn. I was not okay with this.
a.) Quinn's reactionary teenage politics to her teen pregnancy, sin, and social downfall of the previous school year are annoying and quite frankly, sloppy writing! Angry Quinn was kind of fun. But all of a sudden this season she turns into this calculating, Bible-thumping teenage monster again. Now that she's in a poised for being the Queen Bee again, she really wants it? What happened to all the epiphanies she had last year?
b.) Rachel, memorably and importantly, in one of the first episodes of the first season, entered Celibacy Club to get closer to Finn, but ended up giving this really great speech on why pledges of teenage celibacy are often unrealistic, unhealthy, and counter-productive to progressive attitudes about teenage sexuality. Just because you're single doesn't mean you have to join the Celibacy Club.
c.) The Emma storyline was a little strange. I don't know. I'm sort of ambivalent on how they treat Emma's obsessive compulsive disorder on the show, as well as her aversion to sex. I don't know about adult sexual aversion... but the only thing that I could think of was that perhaps she had been molested as a child and becoming closed off to sexual advances was a reaction?? It seems like that might be a little too dramatic even for Glee to use as motivation... but there's no explanation, and her character hasn't really been around at all this season, so she's not developed at all. So anyway, her character popped up last episode, but I still don't feel like I know anything else about her.

4. As always, the other characters don't really get a voice. Puck and Lauren have a brief focus, but in general, the rest of the cast is not heard. Also, I don't even want to talk about Mr. Schu because I don't like him... so I won't.

That being said, I thought it was interesting that my conversation pre-class tonight was centered around the good parts of the episode, and that the people I were talking to self-identify as gay and gender-queer, and they hadn't felt like the story lines about straight characters were problematic. Which I think is funny because it's much more common that in a television show the straight characters have the better story lines and characterizations, and gay fans feel that the gay characters (if there are any) are marginalized and not represented as well. I'm not trying to be a whiny poopstain and say, "Ohhh, Glee doesn't care about the straight characters," but I think the larger problem is that the writers have not yet figured out how to write for an ensemble cast, which is what the show is turning into, and that remains probably my biggest complaint about this season. On Degrassi, another teen drama with an ensemble cast, each character gets developed fairly well and is not left in development limbo when there are a number of episodes in which they are not the main focus. That's a problem on Glee.

Post Script: The Celibacy Club's performance of "Afternoon Delight" had me in stitches. There was some serious concern about peeing myself while watching. I was reminded of when Michael Bluth and Maeby F√ľnke karaoke that at the Christmas party on Arrested Development. So funny!

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