Lea Michele in GLEE - Season 2 - "Funeral" | ©2011 Fox/Beth Dubber

Lea Michele in GLEE - Season 2 - "Funeral" | ©2011 Fox/Beth Dubber

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.

Kevin McHale and Heather Morris in GLEE - Season 2 - "Prom Queen" | ©2011 Fox/Adam Rose

Kevin McHale and Heather Morris in GLEE - Season 2 - "Prom Queen" | ©2011 Fox/Adam Rose

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.


CLICK HERE for more of ASSIGNMENT X’s GLEE reviews

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CLICK HERE for AX’s exclusive interview with CORY MONTEITH


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.

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  1. You raise a good point, one which I had not considered. I have to agree with you that in this one regard the show does seem to fail. It’s hard to get on them because they do so many other things well, but this is one shortcoming that should be addressed.

  2. Brilliant analysis. I couldn’t agree more.

  3. I completely agree with you on Rachel. How many times has she had a grand realization about her own self-worth (Firework, anyone?) only to go back to acting as if she’s nothing without Finn within the next episode? It’s sad, pathetic and a far cry from the Rachel who once said “… but my dreams are bigger than that; they’re bigger than you [Finn].” It’s one thing for the writers to have her still harbor feelings for Finn, but the way they’ve had her acting is something else entirely. And Quinn… ugh.

    My only real quibble with this article is this bit:

    “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.”

    I don’t want Rachel and Finn back together either, but it’s pretty clear that we’re meant to believe Finn was lying about not seeing fireworks with Rachel.

  4. Cyanide, you might be right about the fireworks, but when I originally saw it I didn’t get the impression Finn was lying. If he was lying, then the show didn’t make it very clear.

    • I always assumed we were meant to see it as a lie because 1)Finn never outright said he didn’t see fireworks 2)As you noted, the writers haven’t exactly been subtle about pushing them as a couple they want us to get behind – so why shoot themselves in the foot by having Finn honestly not see/feel anything when he kissed her? If it really wasn’t meant to be seen as a lie, then I wouldn’t put it past them to have Finn later spew some monologue about how fireworks fizzle out in seconds, while stars (holy metaphors!) can last years. However they go about addressing it, if Rachel immediately takes him back in the episode tonight, it’ll look horrible.

    • In regards to the “fireworks,” it was also mentioned in the “Here’s What You Missed on Glee” at the beginning of the next episode–the direct quote was “Finn kissed Quinn, who’s supposed to be dating Sam. And Rachel kissed Finn too, but he didn’t feel the fireworks–can you believe that?”

      Whether or not that is supposed to mean something, it’s still pretty obvious that FR don’t have chemistry that way. She could do better, and he’s a better boyfriend to other people–if only Glee would let them.

      • The way the “… can you believe that?” was delivered sounded to me that we’re meant to be dubious about it.

        I 100% agree that they lack romantic chemistry together, and, ultimately, Rachel could do better (so much better). Unfortunately, the writers have made it clear they’re seeing this couple to the end – it also doesn’t help that they have rabid FR fans harassing them via twitter and by other means to “BRING BACK FINCHEL!1!!1”

  5. Rachel could be such a strong role model for girls and really started off that way. Her pinning was over done. If she had moved on and they found themselves back together at some point it would have been ok. But to take him back moment after he dropped Finn is kind of sad.

  6. I think you have it exactly right, Joan. The nonstop pining is pathetic. I would have enjoy a reunion a lot more if she had moved on, and they eventually got back together somewhere down the line.

  7. It’s because the writers are putting all their time into the numerous gay story lines, and everyone else just gets half-a**ed “plotlines”.

    • Andie, I don’t necessarily agree with that assessment. I think the show has consistently had a problem with, well, consistency when it comes to its characters.

  8. I completely agree with everything. That is why I can’t ship FR.

  9. I completely agree, Glee doesn’t seem to have any strong female role models. They are either incredibly weak willed when it comes to men, huge bullies, dumb or controlling bitches, its just quite sad.

  10. You make some interesting points BUT….in fairness I’d like to point out that Rachel DID decide to get on with her life and focus on pursuing her talents. The trouble with GLEE is that by the next show, they had forgotten all about that angle and Rachel was back to pining after Finn! The new character Lauren Zyzes is very strong and an especially good example for teen girls who are struggling with their weight, as is Mercedes.

    IMO Glee’s real problem is inconsistency in the characters.

  11. I see your point, but I think that TV characters don’t always have to be the idealized, lesson teaching examples we want them to be, sometimes its ok if they are just true. And I think Rachel’s inability to get over her first love, especially knowing how wrong Quinn is for him, is true. We’ve all been there and no matter how many times our friends tell us that we should move on, or how many times we tell ourselves, it’s just not that easy. So I watch Rachel’s angst and remember my own when I was her age and I feel her pain. I also know that Rachel Berry will grow up and get over Finn, just like the rest of us did.

    • I don’t think characters need to be idealized and perfect. That would be unrealistic. I would just like one solid female character on the show to set a good example for all the preteens and teenagers who watch the show, similar to what they have done for boys, men and the gay characters on the show.

  12. You forgot to mention that Rachel cheated on Finn and has been trying to manipulate him back into a relationship. Why would any guy want her special brand of psycho chick in their lives? She’s been manipulative and all about herself since the first episode and she continously tries to paint herself as the victim. Just because she’s unpopular doesn’t mean she can get away with being a bitch.

    • Mischa, you make a good point. She did cheat on him, and she has tried to manipulate him. BUT, she also just pines for him all the time, and it’s pathetic.

      • But your article makes it seem like her only crime is her pining over Finn. Even if you take away the boy issues, she’s still the girl who sent another girl to a crackhouse, who puts down other people’s talents, who told a friend ‘who cares about you?’, who quit on her club after she didn’t get a solo, who told Jesse about Sam being homeless without Sam’s permission. Rachel has a lot of issues that don’t make her a good role model and not all of them have to do with Finn.

    • While she did cheat on Finn did not he turn around and do the same thing with Quinn to Sam? Also everyone on that show manipulates everyone even the teachers it’s almost always something you can count on Rachel will pine for Finn and someone manipulates someone else EVERY episode it’s irritating

      • Except Rachel cheated because she wanted to make Finn feel miserable. There was no attraction, no alcohol, she had a clear head, she knew what she was doing, and she still tried to make herself the victim when she tried to make her boyfriend miserable. That’s not the mindset of someone who should be in a relationship. That’s someone who should be in therapy.

  13. I agree
    Rachel deserves better.

  14. Finn cheated Quinn with Rache.
    He makes Quinn cheated Sam

  15. And that’s exactly the reason why I’ll be done with Glee tonight if Finchel is reunited. They claim that Glee is about loving yourself for who you are, yet we have to endure Rachel mutilating her personality and self esteem for Finn to love her. Besides Finn is lame, both Rachel and Quinn deserve better

  16. “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…”

    It’s fascinating how that scene has been so interpreted. Rachel asked Finn, deep in the throes of sickness, what he saw when he kissed Quinn. Finn said “Fireworks.” She then asked if he saw fireworks when he kissed her. He didn’t answer immediately because his face when through a number of emotions, ending on a warm smile as he tried to reach for the right word in his fevered brain. She didn’t give him the time before she assumed.

    It was subtle but clearly there that what he felt with her was difference but not lesser. Fireworks are empheral – a quick flash and they are over. I think the greater neglect of the healthy development of teenage girls would be in pretending that fireworks is all that matters.

    • Let’s do the math:

      fireworks = chemistry
      chemistry = important

      Sonia Mansfield
    • What I don’t get is why everyone thinks the same guy would see the same thing when he kisses two completely different girls. I didn’t get fireworks with every guy I kissed. Sometimes it was like snow, each unique and sending shivers down my spine, sometimes it was fire, warm and long-lasting. Fireworks aren’t the only thing that could mean chemistry.

      • I’m saying that chemistry is important, not fireworks.

  17. if you think the gay charters on glee are anything like real gay teens then you have never met any.

    leotha boyd
  18. I +want+ to like Rachael. I really do. Sometimes I actually do. I pulled for her a lot in season one. And this season she’s had some real friendship moments with Kurt and Mercedes. But the whole send the competition to a crackhouse thing and her self-involvement 95% of the time is very tiresome and ugly. I think the writers need to focus more on consistency with +all+ the characters and less on releasing auto-tuned to within an inch of its life singles hours after the show airs.

    I agree with you and wish they had attempted to either keep Rachael’s focus on getting the hell out of dodge or given her a real love interest.

  19. Pingback: TV Review: GLEE – Season 3 – “Heart” | Glee News Network

  20. Pingback: TV Review: GLEE – Season 3 – “Heart” « Harry Shum Jr. « GLEE NEWS

  21. I have met plenty of gay teens and a fair few act like Kurt and Blaine. Also, have you seen these guys in concerts? Definetly not auto-tuned. Cory Is the only one who uses it, and thats just to help him a little not to mask his hideous voice like Kesha and half of the singers today. Their talent is genuine not faked. Watch the audition tapes they have and listen to the CDs and shows, voices sound exactly the same.


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