I like GLEE. I really do, but, I have a problem with it, and I want you to know that I criticize it, because I care.
Conservative pundits have been ranting about the supposed gay agenda the show is pushing, which is completely ridiculous. Of course, several media outlets ran with the story even though it’s total crap. There is no gay agenda. It’s just a TV show that treats its gay characters like actual human beings. “Gay people are people, too. Film at 11.”
GLEE (which airs its Season 2 finale tonight) does a lot of things right. It sends a strong, positive message about the importance of arts education in schools. It sends such a strong, positive message about being a gay teenager. It sends a strong, positive message about diversity – that it’s OK to be a teenager of all different shapes and sizes; that it’s OK to be a nerd; that everyone feels like an outsider. However, it fails to send a strong, positive message about being a teenage girl.
And no, I’m not talking about the girls in the cast posing for men’s magazines wearing practically nothing. They are actresses of legal age playing teenagers on a television show. They are completely within their rights to get nekkid in GQ if they so desire.
I’m talking about the message GLEE sends to girls about dating and relationships, specifically when it comes to the Rachel-Finn storyline.
“Hey, even though he broke up with you, he might still come back, so wait around and pine for him.”
Sure, I get it. We all know those couples that break up and get back to together all the time. And yeah, GLEE is a TV show, and it needs to create drama. And yes, no one should be looking to GLEE for realism, because it’s a TV show in which characters break into song. Yet, if we are going to talk about the message the show sends (and people seem to love to talk about that subject) then let’s talk about the possibly damaging message it sends to girls about dating.
“Even when a guy says it’s over, it’s not really over. Even if he is dating someone else, don’t move on with your life.”
Remember this? When he got together with Quinn, Finn told Rachel that when he kisses Quinn he sees fireworks, something he never saw with Rachel. It was hurtful thing to say to someone whom you dated for an extended period of time, and a clear sign that he’s just not that into you, yet Rachel continues to carry a torch for Finn. And worse, the show’s masterminds want us to want that. They want us to want Finn and Rachel to get back together. I don’t want Rachel and Finn to get back together. I want Rachel to meet someone who sees fireworks when he kisses her, because she deserves it.
Instead of Rachel crying in every episode over a boy that broke up with her six months earlier, wouldn’t it be a more empowering message to show her pick up the pieces and move on?
Let’s put this in a real world context: Imagine you have a friend and her boyfriend broke up with her. And even though he broke her heart, she continues to hang around him, sing his praises and throw herself at him at every opportunity even though he has moved on with another girl. Wouldn’t you want to slap some sense in your friend? It wouldn’t be “romantic” like TV shows portray it. It would be really, really sad.
The show offers us a small taste of girls being strong and standing up for themselves. Recently, Brittany ended it with Artie after he called her stupid. And Lauren definitely doesn’t take any crap, but these are minor story lines. The main romantic story on GLEE is Rachel and Finn, and that romantic story is seriously flawed. I’d like to see Rachel stand up for herself and move on. There are other boys in the world. And besides, Finn isn’t all that. In fact, I think he’s kinda lame, and I’m not sure why every girl wants to date him.
GLEE could do for teenage girls what it does for teenage gays: creating a positive role model. I would love to read the stories next season about how conservative pundits are complaining that GLEE promotes a feminist agenda.
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Sonia Mansfield likes to talk smack, make nerdy STAR WARS references and feed her unhealthy obsession with pop culture. Make sure you follow her on Twitter for constant updates or check out her blog, The Sonia Show.