Friday, March 11, 2011

Why "Glee" Rocks My Socks

I own the first season of Glee on DVD and watch every new episode as it comes out, because the show is colorful and musical and fun.  At least, that's all I chalked it up to.

A friend of mine who wasn't acquainted with the show was over at my house the other day, so I popped in an episode, and my friend brought something to my attention that I'd overlooked.

Particularly in reference to the characters of Kurt and Mercedes, she said, "Why are they so stereotypical?"

Mercedes and Kurt
Don't misunderstand, she loved the show, but in that first episode, there really does seem to be an overabundance of stereotypes, UNTIL (and this is why Glee is awesome) the puppetmasters of the show totally do a 180 on you, point their collective finger, and say, "You were seeing these people as stereotypes, weren't you?"

I know it's something that every author, TV show, and movie tries to do -- take what's cemented in people's minds and give it a twist.  But Glee does more than that.  They introduce every character as exactly what you would expect them to be in the recesses of your mind (which you try to pretend don't exist).  And then they strip it all back and show you that people are people no matter what shape, size, creed or color they come in.  It makes me think of Natasha Bedingfield's song Strip Me:

"If you strip me, strip it all away, what would you find?"

Finn is a stupid football jock who helps throw Kurt in the dumpster until the writers show you that, not only does he love music, but he is possibly the most caring human being on the series.

Rachel is the over-confident, ego-centric, let's face it, really annoying kid with delusions of grandeur who we all hated in high school.  But the writers proceed to show us that Rachel is insecure, terrified of failure -- not in terms of her future (she doesn't worry about that), but in terms of having friends and relationships and being a decent person.  She tries too hard, but I personally love her because she tries.

Kurt is gay, and the writers let you run rampant with all the associated stereotypes until it turns out Kurt is the only one able to bring success and morale to the football team (didn't see that coming, huh?).  Throughout the show, he struggles, he cries, he kicks some serious ass, and he cultivates one of the most inspiring father-son relationships I've probably ever seen.  He is one heck of a strong person.

Mercedes is another character who starts out the victim of a stereotype based on her race and culture, but she turns out to be one of the most talented, sweetest, warmest people on the show.  She is open and honest and classy.

Artie is a rockstar in a wheelchair.  'Nuff said.

Quinn comes out the gate as "The Cheerleader" (you know what I mean).  But as she develops, we see that she's just as terrified as Rachel is, and yearns for her parents' approval and a place where she doesn't have to be perfect all the time.

Goodness, that's what I want.  So go Glee.  Keep flipping people's opinions on their heads.  And I'll keep watching because that's what you do.  And because you're colorful and musical and fun, of course.

Random Cayla rant (not really a rant this time... shpeel?) over.

Cayla out.

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