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The cast of Glee

Musical Comedy Show on Fox

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Enjoyable, but highly problematic

  • Oct 15, 2009
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I'm really torn about this show. I like the premise and love the singing and musical numbers (especially last week's mashups - Halo!), but wow, this show is really, really, REALLY problematic.

There is a lot of diversity in the cast, including the background characters, but all too often those characters (including those in the main cast) just serve as window dressing for the straight, white, (often male) ablebodied characters who are the show's focus. When I first started watching the show, I thought it would be about the kids, but at least in the beginning, it was clear the main focus was the (white, straight, ablebodied, male) teacher. Some of the kids have started to get larger roles as well, but unsurprisingly, the two with the most focus are Finn and Rachel, both white, straight, and ablebodied.

I love Mercedes and I really love that she is actually fat, not just "TV fat", but she is totally the fat sassy black girl stereotype. Kurt is your typical flamboyant femmy gayboy. I like that Artie is in the band and plays electric guitar, because that doesn't seem like the sort of hobby disabled characters are generally allowed to have (though it really irks me that he's played by an ablebodied guy), and I love that Tina is not the typical Asian nerd character. Instead she's sort of Hot Topic/gothy. But in exchange for not being stereotypes, Tina and Artie barely get any lines. And although Rachel has a larger role, she's not free of stereotypes, either. She fits the pushy, spoiled Jewish princess to a T.

And the other adults... Well, it's nice that Ken Tanaka teaches PE, not math or science or something, but why does the Asian guy have to be portrayed as someone no one would ever be attracted to and Emma's only going out with him because she can't have Will? There's also ex-glee teacher Sandy who is just...I don't even know. Way to go for the creepy gay stereotype. I mean, he is just really gross and I kind of seethe every time he shows up on screen. And as much as I love Sue (and I do love her a lot), it would be nice if we were allowed to have a woman who is both not traditionally feminine and not a weirdo. Rachel's gay dads are also horribly stereotyped and they have not even appeared on screen!

Then there's Will's wife, Terri. Wow. I just don't even know where to start. But really, it would make the Will/Emma relationship much more interesting if Terri had even a single redeeming quality. As it is, she's so ridiculously cartoonishly horrible that you can't even imagine what Will ever saw in her.

I'm also not thrilled with how Emma's phobia is played for jokes (and is, of course, the result of childhood trauma).

I will say that I'm very happy that Finn and Will are not gay, because so often there is this assumption that straight guys could never like singing and dancing (certainly not glee club). But breaking stereotypes with two white guys is really not enough to make up for all the badness that is the rest of the cast.

I do enjoy the show quite a lot and will continue watching it, but gah. So much fail.

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January 13, 2010
I love the fact that things are played for laughs in here. It's supposed to be funny. I just wish I knew what the Asian guy's name was. I do agree that the non-white characters need to be given a little more air-time, but whoa! They didn't even have a full first season. Let's give 'em a break here and see what happens.
October 20, 2009
I haven't yet watched this show, so I can't comment on whether I agree with you or not, but I just wanted to say that this is a really interesting breakdown of the show! :)

Even though you think this show is fail, you might still appreciate this list of Glee characters!
October 15, 2009
You've missed the point to Glee. EVERYTHING is done in extremes. It's not an accident. That's how it is written. It's part of the social commentary, if you will. Just because you didn't get it/missed that doesn't mean the show deserves to be penalized for it? Additionally, even the pilot episode was indicative the principle conflict was an inside look at teachers and high school. But you've entirely missed the point of the show. It's like critiquing "the Watchmen" for the Comedian's lack of character development.
October 20, 2009
Yeah, no. Sorry. It doesn't work that way.
January 13, 2010
I missed the pilot episode, but I love the comedic/satirical aspect of the show and I hated the fact that it started to get a little too melodramatic and angsty in certain episodes. They need to watch that and keep the show on track.
October 15, 2009
What you see as fail, I see as part of the (I believe intended) humor and charm.
October 15, 2009
Well said! I couldn't agree more...Every episode I'm torn but, it keeps me coming back for more. I'm not sure if it's for the formulaic storylines or for the musical numbers or the fact that nothing better's on but, I keep watching.
October 15, 2009
Very nice review!  My fiance and I tried to watch the pilot and while I thought that the acting and the show on the whole was plain terrible,she though she would give a couple more episodes a try, but ended up feeling like I did.  Unfortunately, the only good thing about this show are the musical numbers. 
More Glee reviews
review by . December 24, 2010
This isn't so much a review, as much as it is a ranting about a good tv show. I know this is somewhat out of place, Glee being a TV show and all, but I really do like this show, so I felt it necessary to review it. I'll include some stuff about the second season too, because the second season is much better. When I first watched the show, I thought it was mediocre, but it had just enough to keep me watching. As I kept watching, it kept getting better and better, and it transformed into one …
review by . January 12, 2010
Glee has a wonderful premise for a show, and it happily lives up to the promise of that premise much of the time. Its combination of wicked humor, talented performers, the fertile setting of a high school glee club should make a show that can't miss, right?      Well, mostly. When it plays for farcical laughs, Glee is great, and when it adds songs that play off that energy, it's fantastic. However, most of the time, it doesn't do that. Glee has a big problem: it can't decide …
review by . December 02, 2009
Singing the Praises of Glee
With a seemingly endless buffet of vacuous reality TV shows (Keeping up with the Kardashians is still on?!) and horrible remakes of old favorites, a la 90210 and Melrose Place, Glee provides a refreshing and needed change in TV land. If "American Idol" and "The Office" had a love child, its name would be Glee. Catchy, emotional song and dance numbers provide the thematic arcs for the show, which discusses REAL issues that teens face, unlike say Gossip Girl, where the latest struggle …
review by . May 25, 2009
Glee cast
glee  n. 1. Jubilant delight; joy.       Cashing in on the popularity of movies like "High School Musical" and the American public's growing love of dramedies, Glee may be Fox Network's next big hit. And why not? With sky-rocketing unemployment rates, the economy in turmoil and continuing war throughout the world, we're jonesin' for some jubilant delight, even if it's just on television.    Glee brings a cast of characters that are interesting, vulnerable …
review by . October 13, 2009
I think it's partly the economic environment and partly the fact we've ploughed through the Netflix instant pile, but we've started watching an episode of Glee every night on Amazon Video on Demand. I really enjoy musicals but really hate American Idol and any other type of talent competition, so I wasn't sure what the expect out of this show.      It's centered around a fairly typical high school where the jocks beat up the nerds and the nerds all belong to a music club called …
Quick Tip by . August 08, 2011
This is my guilty pleasure. Great voices singing songs that bring me back to my high school days.
Quick Tip by . April 18, 2011
Hmm.  The inspired li'l show that debuted in the first season has really veered off into some nasty territory in Season 2.  No longer content to just be a show about kids and their talents, now GLEE has openly embraced strong political messages, and perhaps it's the worse for wear.  That's not to say that the show doesn't still have strong reasons to tune in each week; it's only to underscore that you have to tune out the politics if you don't agree with 'em. …
review by . September 30, 2010
I watched my first episode of Glee this season. The first show was hysterical with Sue and Will trying to take down "The Beast." The second show was all about "Britney" - yet it was missing the humorous stuff. I convinced my husband to watch it with claims that it was a great show, only to find that we turned it off after about 10 minutes. Being a Jane Lynch Super Fan, I will probably watch it sporadically - assuming there is nothing else on. But, it won't be one of my "too …
Quick Tip by . October 09, 2010
Goofy and irreverent, this show is just plain fun.
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2010
I am a gleek- a glee, geek- and I just thought that it is similar to the concept of finding common ground. Although the methods are not always the best practices to be promoting, there are instances of revenge and blackmail, etc, in the end they always see the errors of their ways and it is the glee club that grounds them and brings them together despite all their other differences of interests and personalities.
About the reviewer
Travis ()
Ranked #806
Member Since: Oct 15, 2009
Last Login: Feb 23, 2010 01:14 PM UTC
About this tv show


Glee, a one-hour musical comedy, follows the life of an optimistic high school teacher as he seeks to transform and inspire the schools Glee Club, a group of amateur performers, to compete in the National Competition.

Once at the top of show choir, McKinley High School's Glee club has lately become home to misfits, social outcasts and scandals. Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), a positive young professional takes on the heroic task of restoring the Glee Club to its former glory, alongside fellow teacher Emma Pillsbury (Ugly Betty).

Challenges to restoring the club include nerdy soprano Kurt (Chris Colfer), the diva Mercedes (Amber Riley), geeky guitarist Arty (Kevin McHale) and the awkward, stuttering Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz).

Will's only hope lies within the true talents of Rachel Berry (Lea Michele, "Spring Awakening"), a perfectionist who is confident in show choir being her ticket to stardom and Finn Hudson,  (Cory Monteith, "Kyle XY"), the popular high school quarterback with good looks and a perfect voice.

Throughout the story, Will is challenged with battling the negative influences in his life to prove that the Glee can beat out the competition. Produced by Ryan Murphy Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television, Glee features a soundtrack of hit songs from past and present.

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