GLEEKIN’ OUT! Or how I secretly learned to LOVE…
I HEART Glee. Undeniably, unwaveringly, unabashedly, I am a total GLEEK. But that wasn’t always the case. In truth, I was drawn, virtually kicking and screaming to the show, by my friend Susan. Now Susan and I seem to have a lot in common, and typically like the same things. For instance, we share a passion that knows no bounds for the chicken fingers, and more specifically the honey dill dipping sauce, one can only find at Rogue’s Roost. Entertainment Weekly has been, at times, our one and only Bible, and we revel in gossiping about whatever celebrity details we learn from any trashy website or tabloid cover or radio DJ. We love to try to one up each other with our trivia knowledge, then usually end up conceding that we are, indeed, both super geniuses and really should be in charge of the world. We both share undying love for Veronica Mars and all things Kristen Bell, recognizing the genius and creativity of THAT show while, sadly, the rest of the world did not. Fact is, I trust this woman’s opinion. She knows what I like, knows what I’ll get when maybe no one else will, and vice versa. But one thing we did NOT have in common was Glee. Before the pilot episode was over, you see, she became almost obsessed. She’d come to work every day, raving about the show, about how funny it was, and what great singers they were, and how she’d sworn off all previous celebrity boyfriends (of which there were many) for the love of someone called Finn.
“Whatever”, I said. “Um, Fame much?”, and” Oh, and I have two words for you: Cop Rock! ” It’ll never last, I thought. People will get tired of the silly premise (a high school glee club…seriously??) and it will soon die a quick death. But she persisted, pressuring me that I had to WATCH THE SHOW, at least once. Still, I resisted, stubbornly refusing to give it a chance. Then, one Friday morning I came to work one day to find Susan surrounded by all of our coworkers as she delighted them in telling stories about the previous night’s apparently “stellar” episode. Something about a celibacy club and a bad boy named Puck and a surprise pregnancy, supposedly from sharing a hot tub, or at least that’s what the dumb football player believed. (And you call that writing, I scoffed?!?) But, after listening to all the talk, and seeing all of their increasingly annoying smiley faces, I thought, DAMN, something this big is happening in the entertainment world and I don’t know what it is to even reference or name check???? NEVER!!!, I cried, to startled glances, forgetting that I cried out in a really loud voice rather than in my head like I was planning. So that very night, I ran home and illegally downlo….er, somehow mysteriously procured I mean…much of the first season, and then convinced my partner Shawn ( who’s typically pretty easy-going and up for anything, but on this occasion raised an eyebrow and said “Um, wasn’t this once called Fame?? “) that we had to watch ’em, as it was now Susan’s favourite show and everyone was talking about it and I was NOT going to be left out of the loop! Or worse, ignored because I didn’t now what the hell people were talking about!
So we did. For two and a half straight days…
And…I didn’t shower (and I love showers!), didn’t care when I ate last, didn’t care if I stepped outside….I lived and breathed Glee! I actually couldn’t wait until I got back to work on Monday so I could talk about how much I LOVED THIS PROGRAM. And when someone would say they didn’t watch it or weren’t a fan, I’d say “wow, now that’s just collossally stupid.” Like that, one of the converted, one of the eager masses waiting for the twists and turns that await those stormy lovers “Finchel”, or breathlessly waiting to see if windows would start to shatter when Mercedes hit those high notes, or stealing Britney’s hilariously dim-witted and naive one liners for my Facebook status updates (“Did you know that Dolphins are gay sharks?” “When I pulled my hamstring I went to a misogynist” and “I took all my antibiotics and now I don’t know how to leave.”) I was Gleeked out on Glee, and I was loving it…
Now since our very fiery and passionate introduction to one another, I will admit my relationship with Glee has cooled at times, and over this past year and a half we’ve had our many ups and downs. Never to the point we were even close to breaking up, mind you, but more like I felt it was time we had a serious heart to heart talk. And, truth be told, as much as it’s my belief that any self-respecting homosexual pops out of the womb loving show tunes, I just can’t seem to warm to them, so when the Broadway starts, I tend to tune out. (Do I have to give the toaster back now?) Then the English major in me gets a bit frustrated with the start and stop and the “wow, that just went all over the map’ in regards to character development that seems so common on the show. I mean, look at poor Quinn. She goes through this entire arc last year of bitchy cheerleading queen who cheats on her hunky but clueless quarterback boyfriend, gets pregnant by his badass best friend, lies about said pregnancy, gets cast out of her home, and then, the Popular Girl, reaches out to Mercedes, the Outsider, and develops a real and genuine friendship that helps redeem her in the end, to make a choice to give up the baby so they may have a better life, only to have the old Quinn back this season, bitchier and meaner then ever, the friendship conveniently forgotten or gone unmentioned, up to some very evil and Super Bitchy ways…to then change said evil ways in the end after getting…a new HAIRCUT. Seriously? Seriously??? The baby didn’t do it last year but the haircut’s gonna cure her? And then we have the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, who seems to have some very public and embarrassing tantrum every few weeks over some band that dared not allow the show to cover their music (you GO Kings of Leon!)
However, the music’s not the reason I tune in to Glee, although for the most part I truly dig their covers, as one would guess if they took a listen to my illegally downl…er, magically procured mixed CDs. And clearly, as noted above, Quinn’s not the reason; or Britney or Santana, although they are SO very much fun and a delight to watch, and I laugh at every single deadpan line they utter; nor Puck or Finn, even if they’re all pretty to look at. Nope, none of that. The main draw for me, the true reasons for watching that keeps me glued to my television set each and every Tuesday eve, are Kurt Hummel and Rachel Berry. As geniusly portrayed by Chris Colfer and Lea Michelle, these are the two characters that stand out the most to me, that seem the most fleshed out, the most fully realized….bigger then life and yet as real as the bullied gay kid or that awkward outcast girl that live down the street. Now imagine being that kid or that girl and turning on your television and seeing yourselves….or at least as close a resemblance I can think of as yet’s been portrayed. I’m just trying to picture anything close to a Kurt or Rachel when I was a teenager, but all we had was the Dukes of Hazzard or the A-Team or Three’s Company, or the Bionic Duo – fun and exciting, indeed, but cartoonish at best, and nothing close to my life, or anyone’s life I knew.
I love that on Chris Colfer’s Twitter feed he describes himself his life as “an awkward visit from the kid’s table while awaiting a History Channel special”, yet with Kurt Hummel, this character he breathes life into, he’s one truly fierce force just itching to be reckoned with…proud, out, GAY with a big ol’ capital G, comfortable with who he is, where he’s come from, and where he’s going. Not afraid to stand up for himself, for what he believes is right, or go after the same things that he sees others have…and not willing to compromise who he is to become some shell of a person the rest of his mostly straight and mostly homophobic high school peers would perhaps much rather wish him to be, even if he seems to be “the only gay in the village.” And man, does this boy love his show tunes! And then there’s Rachel …lovely, sweet, yet oh so annoying Rachel with her undeniable talent and star quality that’s nearly overshadowed by her over confidence and almost narcissistic ways, which in truth hide a jumbled ol’ mess of insecurities mixed with a desperate eagerness to please and a yearning to belong somewhere, or maybe more importantly to someone. Every time I watch Rachel start to waver in her confidence, particularly when she feels so insecure in her looks and asks, with wet eyes and a tremor in her voice, what it must be like to be one of the pretty girls or the popular kids, I feel myself tear up (Every. Single. Time.), and think how that scene is likely played out in living rooms too numerous to mention. In an almost pitch perfect way, Lea Michelle is able to navigate this balancing act of blind ambition crippled with seething self-doubt, and to me at least, it rings so very true and feels so very real each and every time.
At first glance, the world of Glee seems populated with many archetypal characters – the pretty cheerleaders, the hunky quarterbacks, the goth girl, the boy in a wheelchair, the overweight girl, etc. However, I think once you step back and scratch the surface a bit maybe, you’ll find what they truly represent really does go so much deeper. Least that’s what I can only imagine when I think of the legions of fans out there, all those Kurts and Rachels and Mercedes and Arnies, watching them, and maybe seeing a glimmer, or a flash, or maybe a whole lot more, of themselves. Shawn summed it up best when he said, just after the “Born This Way” episode that “there’s really never been characters like this on TV before”. How true, I thought, how very true. So here’s hoping these characters I’ve grown to love continue to grow, change, inspire, and represent as they’ve done thus far. In the meantime, think I’ll rewind back to the start of Season One. No new Glee til September you know, and I must get my Gleek on somehow!
Oh, and thanks Susan. Next time I’ll pay more attention, promise! 🙂