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Is "Glee" Ruining Gay Street Cred?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 2, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 2, 2010 |

All right, here’s my crackpot theory for this week. God bless, “Glee.” Good or bad, the show always gives me something to write about. Anyway, stay with me here. From reading the comments and based on my own direct and anecdotal evidence, here’s what’s fairly apparent: Most of our favorite characters on “Glee” are the fringe characters: Brittany, Santana, Puck, and Sue Sylvester. This is a natural reaction to a lot of shows: We gravitate toward minor characters because they’re not given as much screen time and/or are not as exposed as the major characters (this is often true of ensembles; see “The Office,” for instance).

But look who it is that comprise our favorite characters: Two cheerleaders, the bullying cheerleading coach, and the bullying jock. And who are we tired of? Rachel and Kurt, for the most part. Both the Mercedes and Quinn drama has also lost some of its flavor, and as much as I want to like Artie, the subplots that revolve around him haven’t been interesting. Finn, as he’s currently constructed, is extraneous to the show — we like him best when he’s the womanizing jock (inasmuch as Finn can be a womanizing jock). All of which is to say: “Glee” is something of an inverted pyramid. Unlike most every other high-school movie or television show, it’s the jocks and the cheerleaders that we’re kind of smitten with, while the major players — those that drive the majority of the storylines — are beginning to feel stale. We’re beginning to sympathize with the underdog popular kids, while the “freaks” have become the heroes. And, as we all know, heroes are never the cool ones (unless said hero is played by Robert Downey, Jr.). We love the outliers, and in “Glee,” it’s the popular kids who are the outliers.

Ryan Murphy is mainstreaming a brand of gay culture on “Glee,” and once something gets mainstreamed — once your parents and your grandparents latch on to it — it loses it’s cool. It’s street cred, so to speak. “Glee” has already been renewed for a third season, and the second season hasn’t even aired yet. What does that say? “Glee” will be Myspace in three years. Or Friendster. The novelty will have been completely lost, and the gay will have been co-opted by every other show on television. On the one hand, that’s great: Murphy’s brand of gay culture will be assimilated into our mainstream, but on the other hand, how much less cool will Kurt be when every other high-school kid in America dresses like him and expresses his feeling through show tunes?

Just a theory.

As for last night’s show: We saw a weakness in Sue Sylvester, and we didn’t like it. Don’t do that again, Mr. Murphy. We don’t want a vulnerable Sue Sylvester, willing to throw herself at Shuester to avoid loneliness only to have her heart broken when he reveals it all to be a mean-spirited diabolical plan. Not cool. Sue Sylvester is the diabolical planner. Let’s keep it that way. (And who privately hopes that Sylvester throws the “Glee” kids under the bus in net weeks’ finale? Do it!)

Meanwhile, Jesse St. James — who has not, as many predicted, revealed himself to be gay — up and returned to Vocal Adrenaline, dumping Rachel in the process, although it’s apparent that he still has feelings for Rachel. Subsequently, Vocal Adrenaline psyched out their competition with a not-so-rousing rendition of “Another One Bites the Dust,” which was kind of weak, if you ask me. As a result, the entire Glee club went into a funk, which inspired Will to introduce “funk” as this week’s (failed) musical theme.

“Glee Club” and funk do not mix, folks. Do not try at home. They are mutually exclusive. Every single attempt at funk failed spectacularly on last night’s show, save for “Good Vibrations,” which wasn’t funk, but which was the most amusing number of the night. Quinn’s attempt at funk — a pregnant girl rendition of “A Man’s World” — was the most embarrassingly awful.

Oh, and what they did with Beck? Don’t do that again. Leave Beck out of this, people. “Loser” does not need to be Glee’d up. Don’t Mickey Mouse club that shit. That’s just mean. Stick with the Funky Bunch. Make the uncool music cool, but don’t bring the cool music down to your level (random thought: I can’t wait until they Glee up some Nickelback or Creed or Daughtry, so I can torture TK with it on an endless loop for twice the musical misery).

Here, I’ll cut to the chase now: Quinn, in her pregnancy (and wow! She started showing quickly) found a sympathy partner in Mercedes because, see, Mercedes is fat. And it’s totally the same thing. Right? And now Quinn is moving in with Mercedes. (The Quinn storyline won for most reductive, bullshit offensive subplot of the night. Hooray!). Meanwhile, Sue overcame her heartbreak to win the nationals and redeem her bullying ways with Will, although we will always know that vulnerability. Terri and Will’s divorce became official, and Terri developed feelings for Finn. And the Glee club redeemed themselves in the eyes of Vocal Adrenaline with a decidedly unfunky rendition of “We Want the Funk.” Hey Glee Kids! Funk needs a low register to work. This Glee Club has no low register. That was painful, and in exposing Vocal Adrenaline’s weakness, you revealed your own: A complete funklessness. But on the bright side: There’s a black guy in the group now? Where’d he come from? Do they just trot him out for the P-Funk numbers? Maybe next time, give him a line.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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