What if Glee was less conservative?

The show purports to bend social conventions, but except for the gay themes (and the occasional potshots at the Tea Party and chastity hypocrites), it is deeply conservative; and in the end, everyone reverts to conventional bourgeois morality.  Except for one the theme show about drinking, none of the kids ever get drunk.  They don’t smoke pot either, take any other drugs, or even acknowledge the existence of a drug culture. They don’t cheat at school. Instead of having an abortion, Quinn carries her baby to term and then gives it up for adoption. And time after time, when presented with a moral dilemma, the kids always do the “right” thing.  This allows the show to have it both ways – to appear ground-breaking for their teen audience, but not go too far to offend parents.

And continuing with the point made above, the show is drenched in sexuality but no one ever actually has sex.  They dance and sing provocatively and talk about sex constantly, but the characters hardly ever follow through with it.  Quinn and Puck had sex once, which resulted in her pregnancy and she hasn’t moved off her celibacy vows since.  Quinn [Presumably Finn] lost his virginity to Santana and felt so dirty about it that he might as well have taken celibacy vows.  He hasn’t had any action since then.  Rachel of course remains a virgin, despite having numerous boys in her bedroom in various stages of undress.  Kurt too was a virgin until very recently, and may still be for all we know (it’s not really clear what’s going on physically between him and Blaine.)  Emma was engaged to one guy and marries another but she’s still a virgin too.  Even the virile Will Schuester has only had sex once on the show – and that was with his estranged wife!  In other words, despite all the sex talk, McKinley High might as well be set in the McKinley administration.

via GaryWHolmes.tumblr.com a (somewhat tidied up version can be found here: MediaPost Publications Two Cheers For ‘Glee’ 05/20/2011)

He does have some points. And nevermind drug culture. Puck (if he was a real person) would almost definitely be a smoker (although I’d swallow that Lauren nipped that in the bud). I don’t know about everyone else, but there was a well-attended student smoking area in my high school. And yes, plenty of the band geeks and choir kids smoked too.

Not sure any of the cast strike me as stoners.

What do you guys think? If they were to dirty things up a bit, what would your favourite characters be getting up to?

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4 thoughts on “What if Glee was less conservative?

  1. In Season One Sandy Ryerson was Puck’s drug connection–that’s how he got the pot to put in the cupcakes for their bake sale. Also I think they mentioned he was drunk when he tried to steal the ATM? I kind of assume that up until Blame It On The Alcohol, all of the kids except Rachel had been drunk on occasion, given how unenthusiastic they were about Rachel’s wine coolers.

    I kind of agree with him about the sexuality thing, though (although I’m not sure why he assumes Kurt isn’t a virgin anymore–because he’s a guy, I guess? Nothing in the show indicates that he wouldn’t be a virgin, though, given that we’ve had one onscreen kiss between him and his boyfriend, and given that he was pretty firmly freaked out by sex the one time it came up). I think the bigger issue is that the characters having sex tend to be the characters we’re not paying that much attention to. Tina’s statement about the rumors about Asian men (“Not true”) indicate that she and Mike are having sex somewhere offscreen, and Brittany and Artie were obviously having sex at least up until their pregnancy scare. I would have assumed Puck and Lauren would have sex at some point, but then they joined the celibacy club. It’s pretty well-established that Puck was having plenty of sex before that, though, and given that Lauren suggested a sex tape I doubt she’s a virgin either.

    The show’s attitudes about sex overall are pretty weird and contradictory. Emma and Rachel’s (as far as I can tell, the only confirmed virgins on the show) prudishness is presented as unrealistic, uptight, and problematic, but characters like Brittany, Holly Holiday, and April Rhodes end up being somewhat shamed for their free-spirited, promiscuous sexuality (Artie telling Brittany that she used him after they had sex for the first time, for example) and needing to be saved by a monogamous relationship. The fact that the two virgins are the love interests of the main, non-virginal male characters who need to coax them into healthy sexuality is also pretty screwed up–Rachel trading Finn gropes of her boob in exchange for him agreeing to raise their kids Jewish was screwed up in a lot of ways. The Emma thing in particular (tying her squeamishness about sex into her illness, and having Will be the one who encourages/shames her into “fixing” herself) is really gross–Will’s “reward” for being a “good guy” is ultimately going to be sex with Emma, and in particular it’s going to be Emma “giving” him her virginity.

  2. Ha! Good point about the pot and Sandy Ryerson. I’d forgotten. (how? No idea!)

    Yeah, when you put the whole Will and Emma thing that way, it’s super creepy.

    And I, too, thought the assumption that Kurt had already had sex was jumping the gun a teeny bit. I mean, you’re right, all we’ve seen is one kiss, and a tiny bit of hand holding. 1 slow dance that was more or less forced on them. Now, there are all kinds of complicated reasons why a queer couple may not be affectionate even in “safe” places (does Kurt even have safe places?) but I would still assume that he and Blaine are taking things slow. Even if for no other reason other than the writers may want to address it at some point, instead of simply shoving the act into an assumed past.

  3. Given how the writers have backed away from depicting sex generally (Ryan Murphy’s statement to the Hollywood Reporter where he said he was aware of families and children watching the show and wasn’t going to show things like, say, Finn coming on people anymore, pretty much confirms that it’s deliberate), and gay sex in particular (downgrading Brittany and Santana’s relationship from “having sex” to “cuddling to Sweet Valley High” and “friends who talk with their mouths really close”–all offscreen, or course), I doubt we’ll ever get a sex scene between Blaine and Kurt, or even too many private intimate scenes. Possibly there will be more discussion of sex and intimacy, but only possibly.

    I’d love to attribute the lack of physically intimate scenes between Blaine and Kurt to a deep understanding and desire to show the difficulties gay couples have showing affection towards each other in public, but since the characters haven’t actually discussed it, that’s only a possible interpretation rather than a deliberate statement. Glee’s history of representation (and their choice to do things like, say, set the prom proposal scene in a restauraunt rather than a private space) makes me think network concerns have more to do with it. Obviously there’s a level of compromise there (we have had a gay kiss and a gay necking (sort of) scene) so they’re not just being completely censored, but I do think a compromise is being made. (Of course there’s also the fact that Kurt and Blaine are a new relationship and not a major plot focus, so the lack of intimate scenes *so far* doesn’t really bother me. I don’t hold out a lot of hope for them in the future, though.)

    But yeah, given Burt’s response to Blaine in Kurt’s bedroom and given the homophobia of the town, I doubt Kurt and Blaine have a lot of safe necking spots in the first place. Assuming that they’re having sex offscreen somewhere is really jumping the gun, and I’m guessing it has to do with the usual assumption that guys (particularly gay guys) are more sexual than girls, so of course they would be having sex.

    Wow, I use a lot of parentheses.

  4. Parentheses are hot.

    I want them to address why they aren’t openly affectionate. I really want that to happen. Otherwise, it’s just that the characters aren’t touching each other in public for some unknown reason (to most viewers). Like when my mother in law accused us of not really being in love, because we’re never affectionate. Never mind that we tried that once and it resulted in scandal, shouting, tears and nonsense. Queer couples learn quickly to keep it quiet, and to just be happy to be in each others’ company.

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