Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Glee? Not for me.

I have watched exactly two episodes of Glee.

I don't remember the name (or theme) of the first one I watched, but it was one where they all seemed to be eager to lose their virginity but turned out no one actually did it. I think. Then I just watched the Lady Gaga episode on Hulu, because I do like me some Gaga. And FWIW, apparently someone is pregnant now so even if they didn't do it on that first show I watched, they must have done it subsequently.

Now, I know there are a lot of Glee-fanatics out there who adore this show. But I have to say, I'm not feeling it.

During the first episode I watched, I was, to be honest, shocked. I had thought that this show, about a high school glee club, would be something I could watch with my kids. But as that episode played I was very relieved that my kids had shown on interest in it at all, and weren't anywhere near me. I found it objectionable - I am fine with sexuality in movies or books or even late night cable TV shows. But prime time network high school shows? This was blatant. This was in your face. And it really bothered me.

I didn't expect to ever watch it again, but the lure of Gaga brought me back - and while I did enjoy listening to their renditions of Gaga songs (and the costumes were crazy fun) - I was once again not happy with the plot line.
One of the main characters is gay, and he has a crush on another of the main characters, who is not gay. At the same time, their parents (gay's dad and non-gay's mom, both single, no idea if they are divorced, widowed, never married, whatever - not, I suppose, that it matters) start dating and fall in love and decide to move in together. They make this decision without telling the non-gay son, and then spring it on him - he is moving into this other house and has to share a bedroom with the gay son who has a crush on him. He is uncomfortable both with the fact that he had no say in any of this (or warning about it), and with the details of this living arrangement. Eventually he reacts in anger and uses the "f" word (fag, not the 4-letter one) and the Dad kicks him out for gay-bashing.

And here is where I took objection.

Forcing your teenager to share a bedroom with someone who has a romantic crush on him is icky - yet no one seemed to notice or care about that. (I'd use their names instead of gay and non-gay but I really have no clue what their names are.)

As far as I can tell, non-gay has never exhibited any signs that he dislikes gay for being gay, or that he is uncomfortable with anyone's sexuality. Heck, within the glee club there is a young woman with two dads, and the afore-mentioned pregnant one - and the father of her baby is also in the glee club - so lots of sexuality-based character development here, and non-gay never blinks (or perhaps he does but since I have only watched two episodes I am missing that about him? I doubt it, but am always open to the possibility.)

But the issue today is that he really doesn't want to get dressed or undressed in front of gay, and who can blame him? I half expected gay to speak up and say "it's my fault, I made him feel uncomfortable" but that didn't happen. No, non-gay apparently has to be happy about sharing a bedroom in order to prove his open-mindedness. His discomfort is ignored, and he is shown as a teen with prejudice, and from the editing it seems the audience is supposed to agree with the dad. Then, at the end of the show, he apologetically expresses remorse and claims to have grown in his understanding of himself, and of gay's "gayness" and now all is right with the world - all done while he wears a Gaga-styled red ball gown in the boy's bathroom while staring down two football players.

Seriously? Could there be any more stereotypes in one scene?

I gave it my best, I watched two episodes but forget it. I found this show to first be offensive, and then to just be stupid. Defenders? Give me your best.


Lucy said...

Well, I haven't seen it, and it's not that I don't believe it, but... for real? Musn't this be a send up? It can't possibly be earnestly preaching that a straight young man who doesn't want to share a bedroom with a gay man who is attracted to him is a bigot?

So, would this show suggest that a straight teen who didn't want to share a room with another straight teen of the opposite sex would be sexist??

Mama Ava said...

I really like the show, but I knew going in that it was going to be very sexual...it's about high school and a) there is a lot of sex at high school and 2)there is a WHOLE LOTTA sex on TV high schools.

A BIG theme of the show is breaking down stereotypes--of blacks, geeks, jocks, gays, etc. I believe I read (but I'm not 100%) that one of the show's writers/creators is gay. The Gleeks have never fit in--and now the cheerleaders and jocks who have joined are bumping up against not only their own prejudices but the force of teen conformity that they've been a part of up until now.

Maybe this show just hits the wrong note with you for whatever reason. Lots of very popular shows do that for me. For obvious reasons, Noah and Ava are not allowed NEAR it, but Cameron does watch it. I've been very uncomfortable by some of the content--on the other hand, there's a lot of reality in a celibacy club where the girls' motto is "it's all about the teasing, not about the pleasing." There's reality in a girl knowing that being a guy's "first" gives her a whole lot of power. That a lot of girls will play guys off each other and believe that a bad reputation is better than none at all. That guys will lie and strut about their "experience" rather than be honest (or at least private).

And I know that as much as I have managed things, Cameron is at the age and in settings where those kinds of thoughts and mentality plays out. And since I'm not there during THOSE times, I get to squirm and then take a deep breath and say something about what we've just seen on TV. He has always been very hard to talk to, so having something open a door to provoke a topic is (for me) kind of a relief. It's more than just saying "well, they hear and see that anyway, why not at the house, too?" It's about provoking a discussion about how we feel about those things.

And, FWIT, the relationship between Curt (the gay student) and his father has been really honest and interesting. He doesn't know how to relate to his son, his son doesn't know how to relate to his father, but they obviously love each other very much. The whole parent dating thing sparked the awareness that Fin (the non-gay student) might just be the son that the dad wanted. The dad feels caught between wanting to get to know Fin and enjoying his company and the fact that he doesn't have that relationship with his son. There's been a lot of those moments that underscore just how terribly difficult it must be to be a gay teen.

Lucy said...

"There's a lot of reality in a celibacy club where the girls' motto is 'it's all about the teasing, not about the pleasing.'"

Yuck. Mama Ava, reading your comment made me SO glad that our family has a lot of cultural support for abstinence before marriage. I have to say, I'm glad my kids don't have to go out and wallow around in that. Of course they could choose to anyway regardless of what they've been taught at home and by our religious community, but at least we've presented a strong case for just saying no as millions of young people all over the world do, for religious reasons among others. So glad they don't have to join a "celibacy" club.

Interesting what you say about the club breaking down stereotypes. I was reading yesterday on several different blogs and news sites that many in the gay community find the gay characters on the show to be offensively stereotypical.

Mama Ava said...

Lucy, I hear you. I think your church provides a much much stronger unified front than others in terms of a consistent message and family support. I didn't feel that at our church in MN and here our more fundamentalist church here--I don't always agree with the tenor of the messages in some areas.

I know we all pray that the foundations we give our children up to these teen years give them the strength and sensibilities to stay on the right path. I also know that I can't guarantee that--they have their own free will and lots of trouble can happen with a kid who just tried something once or made one mistake. I pray over my kids all the time...but I know that things happen.

I think stereotypes ABOUND on TV, and that's one of the dangers, that TV perpetuates images that aren't true. Does "Friends" portray typical single friendships? Did "ER" or "LA Law" portray doctors and lawyers fairly? How many times are parents the idiots and kids celebrate putting over on them? I think that it's one of those things that comes with the pop culture territory. I don't know if the guy on "Glee" is stereotypically gay, but we've got 2 kids here that are very very noticeably gay and Cam has commented on how the Glee student would probably be friends with those 2. You'd think gym teachers around the world would unite against Sue Sylvester! haha