Fighting with the Sky

Glee: Series Premiere

Posted on: September 10, 2009

As this is my first post about a weekly television series, I wanted to explain how this is going to work.  Every week, a day or two after a television show (this will mostly be for Glee, Bones, and Dollhouse), I will have a post about the episode.  I will start off each post with a brief recap of the show (I’m not too good at recaps, but we’ll see how it goes) which we be followed by my analysis.GLEE

The series premiere of Glee was last night (Wednesday, Sept. 9).  It was technically the series premiere even though the pilot has been previously aired.  The pilot aired back in May as a way to build excitement about the show and was aired again last Wednesday.

Glee is musical comedy/drama about a high school glee club.  Here is a run-down of some of the major characters: Will Schuester (played by Matthew Morrison) is a high school Spanish teacher who takes over the failing glee club as a way to relive his glory days of high school.  Rachel Berry (played by Lea Michele) is an ambitious member of this glee club who thinks she’s the best thing ever.  Finn Hudson (played by Cory Monteith) is a football star who is conned into joining the glee club but ends up loving it.  Sue Sylvester (played by the brilliant Jane Lynch) is the cheer coach who is hell-bent on bringing down the glee club.

Now time for what happened in the series premiere: “Showmance.”  In this episode, the glee club is getting ready for their first performance in front of the student body.  Will has the club prepare a disco song that none of them want to sing because they find it embarassing.  Rachel is developing a crush on Finn and tries to resort to bulemia to make herself more attractive.  Emma (the guidence counselor who has a really big germ phobia) tries to talk to her about these feelings, but it seems to be more or a way to have Emma fantasize about Will (whom she has a crush on).  In the meantime, Will’s wife throws a fit because they can’t afford the perfect, oversize house.  I find her really annoying.  Will ends up taking a night time janitorial job instead of his wife picking up more hours even though she only works 15 hours a week.

The celibacy club.  Oh, the celibacy club.  “It’s all about the teasing, not about the pleasing.”  That’s the motto of the girls.  The guys just make jokes.  Finn’s girlfriend is the president of the club (and also the cheer captain).  Rachel joins the celibacy club as a way to get closer to Finn, but gets fed up and promotes sex education (woo!) and says that girls want sex just as much as guys.  From this Rachel gets to idea to “sexify” the glee club performance at the assembly by performing “Push It” and new dance moves.

This, of course, goes over really well with the students, but the cheerleading coach, Sue, objects because she wants to bring down the glee club (but it’s never really explained why she wants to bring it down).  The principal likes the reaction that the students had to the performance, but ends up only allowing pre-approved songs that only have “Jesus or balloons in the title.”

Rachel and Finn grow closer as they practice, and end up kissing but Finn is a little premature and ends up running away.  Then we learn that Will’s wife is actually have a hysteric pregnancy because she wants a baby so much.  Finn’s girlfriend and two other cheerleaders audition for the glee club to come between Finn and Rachel (or as Finn’s girlfriend calls Rachel, ‘it’).  Sue uses this as a way to “infiltrate” the glee club.

I like Glee because it promotes doing what you love no matter what others think of you.  It points out some of the hierarchical structures of high school that everyone knows exists, but no one talks about a whole lot.  And it actually talks about things that people think but don’t really say out loud.  For example, when Rachel talks about how girls want sex just as much as guys in celibacy club.  The gym teacher at one point says: “they won’t fire me because I’m a minority.”

There are, of course, some problematic things.  Will’s wife barely does any work but pouts when she doesn’t get her exact way because of financial difficulties.  It just makes her seem like the whiny, irrational woman who doesn’t know how to handle money.  I have mixed feelings about the celibacy club.  I feel like it is supposed to be making fun of abstinence-only and promoting abstinence, but I don’t know if it gets it’s message across to as many people as they think it might.

I enoy the show because it’s not like other shows on network television.  It has musical numbers, which I think is great.  I think it is going to take me a little while to get more of an analysis down about it.  I’m still getting used to the show and getting a feel for its humor.  Next week I will hopefully have some deeper analysis about the specific episode.  My thoughts are kind of scattered tonight and I’m pretty tired right now.  But for now, what do you all think of Glee?

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4 Responses to "Glee: Series Premiere"

Interesting point on how Glee brings up things that go unsaid, especially in re:Rachel’s rant at the abstinence club meeting. I was so busy being totally infuriated throughout the episode that I kind of missed that.

Although, the teacher making the “they won’t fire me, I’m a minority” comment? I totally read that as some sort of snide dig at affirmative action, as in, the viewers are supposed to be all riled up because everybody knows that you can’t fire minorities because they’re all so whiny about racism and shit. Given the way the show treats minorities, I definitely read that comment as one dripping with privilege (even though it was said by a minority character).

Oh, yeah, I didn’t think you had a positive take on that comment, I just wanted to flesh out my own thoughts a little more; and your analysis about how Glee speaks the unspeakable held true. People definitely resent minorities because they think that minorities won’t get fired because they are minorities, but because they think it’s not appropriate to say that, they don’t. And, conversely, some minorities do make jokes like that in an attempt to defuse tension. It was one of those moments where, in a more…sensitive? aware? show, the comment would have been great (just like the subplot with Rachel exploring bulimia might have been great, or Quinn’s ungendering of Rachel would have been great, but instead these subplots came across as just icky).

As a teacher, the reason the gym coach won’t get fired is because he’s a teacher, and they’re so desperate for bodies in the classroom that they’ll take (and keep) anyone.

Speaking of the coach, I’m surprised you didn’t mention his entitlement to Emma. Did you see the pilot, or was this the first ep you’ve seen?

In the pilot, he asks Emma out, and she says she could tell him she’s washing her hair, or a list of other excuses (as she’s done in the past), but this time she flat-out tells him she is not interested in him. I can’t remember the details of the scene, but he pretty much gets mad at her because he likes her, and she should like him back, dammit!

We’re not supposed to like this guy. He’s a jerk, and rather ignorant. Therefore the “can’t fire me because I’m a minority” comment didn’t bother me much, because he’s not someone we’re supposed to take seriously or whose opinion we should respect/take into consideration.

I loved Rachel at the Celibacy Club. Liked seeing both sides, the guys and the girls, and Finn’s bragging (“I don’t have that problem” re: early ejaculation) when really, yeah, he does. Shows that what teenage boys SAY about sex and their exploits/conquests is not always as accurate as it should be…

Same for the girls. The cheerleaders are evil, conniving, manipulative. It’s a stereotype, but the cheerleaders are not real people, they’re there to be stereotypes (which is why they wear their uniforms EVERY DAY. They’re like Storm Troopers). They even sit there and plan how to “tease” the boys and use their sexuality control/ have power over the boys.

No, they’re not good role models, but it supports Rachel’s point: Girls want and enjoy sex just as much as guys. Girls are sexual beings.

And, of course, I LOVED Rachel’s speech. HEAR, HEAR!!!

I agree with you that Will’s wife needs to go. I was wondering how they were going to deal with her pregnancy (after seeing the pilot, where she announced she was pregnant and Will was going to quit teaching to be an accountant, something he hates, to be able to better provide for his new family). I couldn’t see the show having her have an abortion, not only because I doubted they would push the envelope THAT far but also because the character would not choose that (she wants to have that power over Will). But a miscarriage is so cliché, I didn’t want to see them doing that, either.

Though I’m glad she told him not to buy the house (at the end of the episode), I feel that wasn’t natural. I don’t think her selfish character would have done something so sensible and honest (if she were going to be “nice,” start to turn a new leaf, wouldn’t she have fessed up about the pregnancy, too?)

I think the wife’s character is a bit too much of a caricature. We know they were high school sweethearts, and she’s obviously changed for the worse since then, but at this point, we the audience cannot see how someone like him would want to be with someone like her. For him the change must have been gradual so he didn’t notice (same reason many women find themselves in abusive relationships, the abuse starts small, gradually gets worse, and one day she wakes up not knowing how she got there — er, am I overanalyzing this a little?), but she should have SOME redeeming qualities, or we should see her “good” side, so that we can understand the relationship better and/or have some sort of sympathy for her.

Either way… I’ve loved the show so far, mostly because of the singing and dancing, and look forward to more. Some of the characters are a little too extreme for me (too much of a caricature/stereotype*), but we’ll see where it goes.

*Jane Lynch’s character is another one. She’s uber obsessed with her winning cheerleading team (wants to take down Glee because she sees this group as a threat to her group; she may lose some of her budget, etc.), but they go a little too far with some of her budget requests.

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