Since Glee‘s debut in 2009, one of the major criticisms of the show has been that it’s immoral. Glee has been criticized for the racy photoshoot its stars, who play high schoolers though they’re of legal age, did for GQ, for its relatively realistic portrayal of teen sex and drinking, for its well-developed gay characters and most recently, for its sympathetic treatment of a new transgender character. Most of these criticisms say more about the people mounting them than Glee itself. But over the past two seasons, it’s become impossible to escape the conclusion that Glee is an immoral show, but not for the reason cultural conservatives believe. It’s become a show that’s not just sloppy but exploitative and manipulative of serious societal issues and human experiences. And it’s time to walk away, even for hate-watching purposes.
My reaction is probably this:
So Glee goes off the air. Are we better off? Sure, Glee can be super clumsy. But hell, they just introduced a black transgender teen character on prime-time American television. They made middle America care about a fashion obsessed boy with a girl’s voice and fall in love with the hot lesbian cheerleaders who actually have feelings and consequences to their love.
Glee has strong characters with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities.
So sure, Glee’s not perfect. It tries to do too many things at once, and tries to not be a PSA at the same time, because PSAs are boring. But for its acheivements, for the flashes of absolute brilliance and for the plain old breaking down of walls that Glee manages on a week-to-week basis, I can’t see how it can be called out in quite this way.