You know when you're doing yoga, and you're holding this impossible position, and the instructor says "Ten more seconds!" but it's actually like thirty, and you keep holding it because ten more seconds and it's almost over and you've come this far and fuck it, you're going to make it all the way because it's a matter of personal pride?
That's how I feel about Glee right now.
Happy things first:
The only thing I didn't love about that bodyswap interlude was that we didn't get to see Jayma!Shannon and Dot!Emma, because how amazing would that have been? Chris!Finn was maybe my favorite, just because he hit the body language and voice out of the park, but Mark!Blaine, Dianna!Sugar and Amber!Brittany all killed me (especially Mark, who obviously gave that ~performance everything he had). And Jane needs to dress like Will Schuester all the time. Holy hell, that look works for her. *___*
Tina having more screentime and two(!) songs made me generically happy, in that I like Jenna, especially her voice, and I like what little characterization we have for Tina, and I want Tina to have good things. This is the happy section, so I'm going to stop there for now.
As much as I wish Glee hadn't gone there in the first place with the domestic violence plot, it worked a lot better in tonight's episode than it did a couple of weeks ago, largely because the writing gave Shannon some more agency. Not just that she left, although that was part of it, but that her story was her own, for the most part, instead of a cautionary tale for the girls. Dot acted the hell out of her scenes, and I don't know that I've ever been as chilled by anything I've seen on this show as I was by that shot of her handling the knife in the sink. It wouldn't be Glee if a woman didn't gain emotional strength from a man, but even though the larger context, as always, is gross, Puck and Shannon are wonderful together. It makes me happy to imagine McKinley hiring Puck on as Shannon's assistant coach next year, because I want them to be BFFs who hang out and drink beer and sing songs and play darts in bars and encourage each other to be doper people (spoiler: Shannon's already reached maximum dopage).
The stories we don't get on this show are usually the ones that interest me the most. Sue's reaction to Shannon leaving Cooter was one of those moments. Did Sue figure out at some point that Shannon hadn’t already left him? She didn’t look surprised at all by Shannon’s revelation, just incredibly emotional, and the way that she hugged her – no hesitating, entirely self-initiated – was something she hasn’t ever done with anyone except Becky or Jean. What made her react that strongly? What didn’t we see?
Rachel hasn’t sounded as good on anything in ages as she did on “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.” I’ll go so far as to say that after DROMP, it’s the best performance she’s ever given; even thinking about it while typing, I’m getting chills, and as a character moment, it was pretty powerful. Paradise by the Dashboard Light was the best group number in a really long time (and a good showcase for Cory’s voice, for once). It made me really nostalgic for S1, which, more than anything, is a good indicator of what it was able to ~conjure up.
New Directions winning would’ve been obvious/inevitable even if the spoilers hadn’t leaked early, but I’m glad for them, and ngl, I got teary, seeing them so happy. The way the school welcomed them back was nice, too, even if it didn’t make much sense. I’m sad, though, that the moment felt a little muted for me by all the fuckery that’s been the last two years. I wanted their victory to have the emotional impact that “Journey” had on me at the end of S1, and it just – didn’t. That feels bad, and sad, and a little hollow. I really love these characters a lot, and they’ve come so far, but everything they’ve done has been in spite of shitty, shitty, offensive writing that’s done whatever it can to undermine all the feelings its audience had about this show in the first place. There’s only so much this cast can do, in the end, to fight that.
This was supposed to be the happy section! Whoops.
Onto the angry-making stuff:
Glee seems to think that addressing its major systemic problems with meta quips is satisfactory, and it just isn’t. Not on any level. You don’t get to flat-out ignore Tina for three seasons and then start your episode with “Yeah, Tina’s gotten fucked over a lot! What’s up with that?” And, on top of that, you really don’t get to dump your shitty writing on the head of Rachel Berry, and blame her – a character – for the fact that you didn’t give Jenna anything to do for three seasons, so once again we get a situation where it’s All A Girl’s Fault. And on top of THAT, you don’t make Mike Chang tell Tina how ungrateful she is for not wanting to take a backseat anymore, and that she should just sway in the background because Rachel is the greatest. And worst of all, you really, REALLY don’t get to make Tina learn her lesson and to shut her mouth and then have Mike Chang smile at her because it’s not fucking Glee without male affirmation.
On the list of offensive things this show’s done, the Wemma sex scene, for me, ranks somewhere in the Top Ten, which is saying something. I’ve been sort of morbidly curious to see how they were going to have them do it, and I guess I should be grateful that at least it wasn’t the centerpiece of a Very Special Episode, but that’s all I’m happy about. The sex comes out of literally nowhere – the last time we saw Will and Emma interact physically, she was recoiling from him – without any build-up or contextualization whatsoever. It’s presented not as a mutual decision by two consenting and healthy adults who want to express their attraction and love for each other, but as Emma literally giving Will her vagina as a reward for winning Nationals and being a great teacher and I can’t even finish that sentence. “My man is a winner, and he deserves to be treated as such.” Let the horror of that sink in for a second: Emma isn’t anywhere in her own dialogue, other than through her connection to Will. It’s all about what he deserves, which is apparently sex, and the implication is that he’s waited so long, and been so patient, and done such a great job with everything, that he now gets access to her body. Which is so fucked up on so many levels that I can’t even BEGIN to talk about how fucked up it is.
And that isn’t all! To some extent, the show’s been surprisingly okay with establishing that Emma’s OCD isn’t something that magically disappears overnight; it’s been a consistent part of her character, and I’ve appreciated that her issues are still present, even though it appears she’s working on them. And I might even have been okay with the two of them having sex as long as it wasn’t presented as some magical, healing, immensely satisfying event, but mental illness doesn’t work like that. Emma has never been okay with being touched. She’s terrified of germs and being messy and everything that sex is about, and there wasn’t even a damn nod to her being nervous or working through her fears, just afterglow. (Which, somehow, is so powerful that even Sue Sylvester notices.) There’s an incredible deficit of public knowledge about what mental illness is, and how difficult it is to cope with and work through. To disappear something so intrinsic to this character in order to give Will fucking Schuester what he deserves implicitly suggests that a disorder is something that can be disappeared. That plays right into the common notion that if you’re sick, you should – and can -- just get over it already. This isn’t just gross and misogynistic, it’s actively harmful stuff.
- My heart leapt a little at Unique saying she should think about transferring schools. Not getting my hopes up, but that’s one of the few things that would make me actively want to tune in for S4.
- Stop with the “he/she” already, Glee, and make it clear once and for all that Unique’s a trans woman, not a cross dresser or a drag queen, which are DIFFERENT IDENTITIES. (I’m going by Unique’s own dialogue, which outright says her “true” self is Unique.) It’s not like Sue and other characters referring to her as “he/she” is unrealistic, but the popular perception of trans* people is warped, and the messy references aren’t helping much.
- How do you bring back Jonathan Groff and not let him sing DDDDDD:
- Seriously, though, Jesse and Rachel talking only made Finn and Rachel hurt more, although I did love the look on Jesse’s face when he saw her with Finn, because it was basically, “Oh, Rachel, why are you wasting yourself on him,” and that is an opinion I share.
- Mark Salling’s dramatic acting's really improved leaps and bounds. Remember how awful he was during Never Been Kissed? His scene with Shannon in the locker room really moved me.
- What the hell was the point of Mercedes getting sick, except to get Tina and Quinn into the Troubletones? It would’ve been so much more effective and interesting if Tina, rather than decide to fade into the background like a good girl, had demanded a featured part, and after Will said no, the other Troubletones girls offered to let her join them (and Quinn too, because why not?).
- Sue called Shannon Dick Butkis! I had Sue call Shannon Dick Butkis in a fic a few months ago! It's a little thing, but that made me squeal a bit, ngl.
- Oh god the preview for next week oh god that Sue/Quinn scene oh god I’m going to be such a wreck ;________;