27
Sep
2011
Glee: Season 3, Episode 2
I Am Unicorn
Gaila
As you may know, my major problems with last week's episode of Glee was the lack of any interest in terms of plot. I felt that all the storylines were repeats of the last two seasons, and that there was very little character development to be found. This week's episode was much better in these two aspects, though of course I still have some issues with the show as a whole. If I wasn't, it probably wouldn't be Glee.

I think I'll begin with the stuff I did like. I'm enjoying Kurt's storyline, as he runs for class president in order to boost his resume for his college applications. At the same time as he runs for president, he is also dealing with the reality that his unique brand of fabulosity does not exactly lend itself to the more masculine aspects of a leading man archetype. I am always behind Glee celebrating the uniqueness of high school kids, so I appreciate the "unicorn" theme of Kurt (and Brittany's) plotline. And I must say that I am very impressed by Glee addressing this problem that people who do not fit the fixed image of leading man and woman face. I find this problem fascinating, as even as we've made great strides in including people of color, people of differing sexualities and abilities and physical attributes into our television shows and movies and pop culture, we remain fixed in our leading men and women.

The people at the forefront of our shows and etc remain all too often thin, white, and heterosexual, in Glee as in so many other shows. So where do the other people fit, then? Always in the background, it would seem, although Glee itself does a great job giving Kurt the spotlight often and to great effect. However, even as the show questions the idea that normative gender roles are required for success, the people of color on the show, who do not fit the classic physical image, remain peripheral, as Merecedes and Tina have not had a plotline in basically forever, and as Artie and Mike Chang only get brief, albeit welcome, moments of focus. One of the recurring problems this show has had over its run time is a feeling of double talk. On the surface, Glee is a show about accepting that we are all different, but that those differences can make us special and shouldn't stop us from achieving. Obviously this is a commendable message, but Glee all too often fumbles in its attempts to deliver it. The show can preach all it wants about the importance of diversity and giving everyone their shot, but while Mercedes, Tina, Mike, and Artie are forced into the background for the white, heterosexual, gender normative characters, the point will always feel just a little disingenuous.

I apologize for the length of this rant, but this has been as issue for me throughout the show's run, and it seems to be one the show is not all that interested in rectifying. Even as it questions the norms of regular tv, it continues to use the same archetypes. I wish the show would realize that, and utilize its other characters for much needed plot lines. If Glee wants us to take its arguments against stereotyping seriously, it needs to stop stereotyping its characters and let them get even a fragment of the depth that has been given to Rachel, Finn, and Will, and Quinn over the show's runtime.

Speaking of Quinn, she was given an enjoyable plot line this week. Though I do feel like the character of Quinn is always being jerked around, I like the idea that she's found something she does really care about, and she's always the most interesting when she's single-mindedly going after something. I foresee very good television coming from the pursuit of her parental rights. I also really appreciated Will finally acting like an adult and a teacher, and calling her out for her bullshit. That is the Will I like as a character and as a person, and I wish he would show up more than once a season. I think the Glee kids might benefit from him too.

I don't know what to say about Sue. I guess we'll see what happens with her campaign.
I like that Puck had some stuff to do this episode, and I thought Idina Menzel was great in her return. She's great, and there's some good stuff coming from her character's return. But I still really want to meet Rachel's dads (which might help with the aforementioned diversity issue the show continues to have). When does that happen?

Overall, I liked this episode, if only because it felt like stuff was actually happening, and that's not always a given with Glee. Anytime this show manages to do something in an episode, I feel like a minor battle has been won, and if they manage to stick with any of these plots come next week, that'll be even better. This wasn't a bad episode of the show, but it did shed light, once again, on some seriously problematic elements inherent in its construction since day one. If Glee wants to be a show about diversity, it needs to embrace that not just in words, but in actions. It needs to give its diverse cast of incredibly talented people more to do, and it needs to respect its characters of color (and its handicapped and homosexual and bisexual characters) as more than just props; it needs to respect them as fully formed people.

Grade: B-

Strays:
-The songs this week were pretty, but I always think it's weird when there isn't a single group song. Also, Lea Michele got like three songs, Kurt got one or two, and Blaine got one. So only those three are allowed to sing?

-Brittany is hilarious.

-"Kurt, jazz hands!"

-I love Mike Chang. I could watch the boy dance all day.
Tags: Glee
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