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Goodbye to “Glee”

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, October 7, 2010 13:37 EDT
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Sorry I didn’t post yesterday; the site’s been screwed up. It still is, but apparently people are reading it and I can write, so I’m going to throw something up quickly.

Tuesday night, Marc and I broke up with “Glee”. The first half of the first season was really an amazing show—funny, strange, campy. And then they started to get sentimental. In small doses, this was acceptable, as long as they returned immediately to Sue Sylvester busting someone’s ass. But the sentimentality got thicker and started to take over entire episodes. This week’s episode about religion was the final straw.

Watching “Glee” was like being in a toxic relationship. Just when you’re about to throw the towel in, they sucked you back in with an episode that reminded you of the glory days. The Britney Spears episode was nearly perfect.* The fact that they teased the audience some more with the the Brittany/Santana stuff was awesome. It was hilarious. They made fun of Will for being a dork. I was in heaven.

But this week’s! This was the final straw; the rock bottom where you realize that this relationship is never going to work out. It’s not just that the theme of the episode was, “Yeah, yeah, atheists may be logical and actually correct, and believers may be weak people who look the other way when churches oppress people because they need their fairy tales for comfort, but atheists should be the bigger man and take all sorts of shit from believers with a smile.” I can deal with watching a show that has a message that I disagree with. But it was the way they did it, particularly with the ruthless combination of actual heartlessness combined with over-the-top sentimentality pretending to be heart.

The main thing that really pissed me off was that Kurt’s friends know that he’s an atheist. Moreover, the show even went with the annoying “atheists are just mad at god” route, though they did rescue that somewhat by conceding that atheist arguments are nonetheless logical. (I actually think the writers are atheists who decided to pander because most Americans are believers. Which is even more annoying.) But by making Kurt angry, they really drove home the point that this is important to him, and especially in a time of crisis.

So what do his supposedly loving friends do? They go over his head and pray over his father. Now, this would have probably been okay if the result was they all realized that in their frenzy of defensiveness about their fairy tale beliefs, they hurt an actual human being, and the moral of this anvilicious show is that religion is evil and compels people to do things that are immoral and inhumane, but no. That would have taken hormone-secreting glands of a non-gender-specific nature. No, instead Kurt has to come around to seeing that they were just being nice, blah blah. No they weren’t. They were passive-aggressively trying to punish him for rattling their long-standing and unquestioned beliefs.

To make the cowardice worse, the characters that end up standing in for believers are not the characters that have previously been portrayed as religious before, mainly Quinn. She has like two lines defending her belief. The characters who get the most screen time talking about faith are Rachel and Mercedes, who belong to faith groups that are, let’s face it, still oppressed minorities in the U.S. In case you don’t get that, Rachel makes a comment about faith traditions revolving around escaping slavery. This is, to say the least, putting your thumb on the scales. There was no real time given over to the big league churches in the U.S. that dominate the cultural discourse. Maybe they thought the only way to balance the logic being dished out by Kurt and Sue was to completely ignore Catholicism and the Christian right? Or maybe it was just pandering. The number of crocodile tears being squeezed out onscreen, I’d say pandering.

Plus, it’s just factually incorrect that the kids were forbidden to sing faith songs if they want. It’s just that Will couldn’t assign them. This seems like a small thing, but the myth that mean old atheists keep believing kids from professing faith in school is widespread, and it’s a lie. It doesn’t need “Glee” promoting it.

They need to simply avoid these kinds of topics. Frankly, they should in the interest of good taste, since that was completely stupid and tasteless and shameful, even if it was more fair-minded. But they couldn’t even be fair-minded, and the pandering made it exponentially worse. The ruthless attempts to make you cry were off-putting. Honestly, I think the only reason they did this episode was to give Mercedes a chance to belt out some gospel. Here’s a better idea: just incorporate the actress more into the show. She’s got the best voice on it. Just give her more parts to sing in general.

But they won’t, and I’m sick of waiting around to see if they will, so I’m done with “Glee”.

*Except for that shit with Artie wanting to be a football player. First of all, as Marc noted, this is illegal in 15 different ways, mostly because the chance of someone getting maimed or killed is near 100% if you actually put a guy in a wheelchair on the field. Second of all, it seems like all Artie-based story lines involve his anger at being in a wheelchair. Give the kid some more dimensions, for fuck’s sake. He wasn’t disabled yesterday. Why not show someone who has come to terms with it and is living a full, happy life in a wheelchair?

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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