Thursday, November 12, 2009

Un. Comfortable!

I'm a big fan of Glee. Let me just make that clear at the outset. Last night marked its return with new episodes after three weeks of reruns. I was really excited; I had heard good things about the episode, Wheels, and was looking forward to the return of the show and the songs, specifically, Defying Gravity from Wicked.

And while last night's episode had some serious moments of win, specifically Kurt's father, and Sue's tenderness towards her sister with Down Syndrome, parts of it made me uncomfortable. Scratch that, extremely uncomfortable.

Things got off to a bad start when Will brought up to the entire Glee club that the school could not afford to pay for the wheelchair-accessible bus that would be needed for Artie to ride with them all to Sectionals. Way to embarrass the kid in front of everyone, Will. Seriously, maybe we could have displayed some tact there? Then, the kids reacted with surprising and casual cruelty stating that Artie could just get a ride with his Dad. After all the talk about sticking together no matter what, it didn't fit with the characters for them to be so dismissive. Finally, when Will observed Artie struggling a bit to tie his shoelace, he said, "Let me help you with that!" and promptly bent down and tied it for him.

Now look, I'm no etiquette expert, but I would never presume to tie someone's shoelace who was in a wheelchair without asking their permission first. It seemed totally rude, and even though Artie seemed cool with it, it bothered me.

Things picked up from there, as I noted above with instances of awesomeness from Kurt's Dad, and weirdly, Sue, but at the very end of the episode when Artie announced that he would use the money from a bake sale to make the school auditorium wheelchair-accessible, Finn busted out with some comment along the lines of, "that'll be loads easier than lifting you up and down the stairs everytime!" and everyone laughed along. Awkward.

This is definitely not the first time that Glee has pushed the boundaries of good taste. In the past, I always defended the show, noting that it was firmly grounded in satire and fantasy dance sequences. But the parts of last night's episode that I described above didn't have that feel to me. Maybe it's because the jokes themselves weren't actually funny, or that the writers were having characters act, well, out of character.

Or perhaps it's my own hang-ups: maybe I'm more comfortable when the show makes jokes targeted at the kids' races or sexuality because that's somehow ok these days. But in any event, the weird comments and actions regarding Artie, and to some extent, Becky (a special needs student that Sue put on the Cherrios) made me uncomfortable.

I wasn't "offended" per se, in the clutching of my pearls sense, and I'm not going to stop watching or even make more of a haboo about this than I already have. But I just wanted to register my distaste to some things that went down last night. I think I'm going to chalk it up to the show still finding that balance between humor, pathos, and satire, and leave it at that.

Anybody else have a similar reaction? Or think I'm just overly-sensitive? Comment away!


Anonymous said...
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Whitney said...

First I am curious what got removed.

Second I was somewhat uncomfy. The girl on the cheerleading squad was just weird. I got the message. Disabled people are people too...

I felt badly for the Asian girl.

I was really madened by the BUTCHERING of Defying Gravity. I loved that song and waited for it all episode, and though he has a good range, he did not perform it well. I was un moved. She did well, all those parellels to Idina Menzel proved true.

Monkey Sri said...

I'm more comfortable when the show makes jokes targeted at the kids' races or sexuality because that's somehow ok these days...

I will, unsurprisingly but respectfully, disagree. Glee has been crossing lines for me almost from the beginning. It's weird ... I love the premise of the show, I adore the characters and the music is brilliant. It's bothersome to me that a show that I enjoy on so many levels can seemingly be so oblivious to sensitive issues like race, sexuality and disability. It has never really felt (to me) like intentional satire. Those are just my two cents.

Maggie Cats said...

Just wanted to add that when you quoted me, Selvi, you left off the "maybe" that started that sentence. I wasn't saying that was for sure what I thought, just that it could be a possibility.

The comment that was removed was spam for viagra. I figured that all of our tv sluts readers didn't need help in that area, so I went ahead and removed it.

Oh, and Whit, the version of Defying Gravity that is on the CD is actually a really awesome duet between both Rachel and Kurt and is far more awesome than what was in the show. I have it if you ever want to copy it!

Cheryl said...

I disagree and I'm going to do my best to coherently explain why, but chances are I'll fail. Just warning ya.

I was miffed with Will, too -- for all the reasons you were -- until the scene where Sue called him out on his reverse discrimination. He was an idiot, yeah, but that was the point. One I' glad they brought up.

As for Finn's comment. I think he was just busting Artie's balls. I have a friend from college who's blind and whenever she'd need to go shopping or something, she'd ask one of us for help. I used to tell her she needed to get a seeing-eye dog so I wouldn't have to schlep for her. Of course I didn't mind doing it, and she knew that. To an outsider, it might have seemed harsh, but it was just good-natured ribbing. She would get her shots in, too. That's what friends do, right? Or do I just have seriously disfunctional friendships?

The glee kids did act out of character. I'll give you that one, but, let's face it, there's no such thing as a completely selfless teenager. Or person for that matter. We're all guilty of having taken advantage of our friends at some point, even now as as adults. I can see how they could just assume that Artie would be cool with it and hurt his feelings without meaning to, it happens all the time. That's way more than two cents, but there you have it.

Maggie Cats said...

Good points, all! I love how we all had such different reactions. Makes for a very interesting discussion.

Oh and God help us when Sue Sylvester is the voice of reason.

Jennifer said...

I heart Glee. As for pushing the envelope, I agree with Cheryl.

However, I do agree that Will was a little tackless mentioning the bus issue in front of Artie. Besides...can the principle even DO that?

The only other tense moment I had was when Sue was conducting the try-outs. I was very scared to find out what her motivation was for selecting Becky. Having seen her softer side with her sister, I felt better about it. But, I still don't trust Sue...I will hate her if/when she somehow uses this to her advantage.

But back on the topic, I don't think that the writers were out of line. The shoelace thing probably reflects a matter of closeness and familiarity between the teacher and student -- that Will recognized the challenge and dealt with it in matter of fact way. No one likes being fussed over unnecessarily and if a problem needs to be dealt with, then do it without making a big fuss. If it was a total stranger, then sure...permission to enter into personal space is appreciated.

And oh yeah, I heart Maggie Cats. I still miss your live and in-person television commentary :)

Anonymous said...

you're totally over reacting and over thinking here, and if you really aren't then maybe the point of the show was to make people think about those issues.