Still, there was a lot of interesting in it, and a lot of it was around the character of Wade Unique Adams.
A big part of that story was Sue’s monologue in Figgins’ office. I was so intrigued by it that I almost immediately transcribed it for Tumblr. Because, honestly, you might have missed some of the genius of that speech if you only watched it once.
First, Sue was a caricature of “But I’m good to gay people, I can’t be transphobic,” ally (or Gay, Inc) when she tells Finn to be careful calling her a bigot. And she’s sneaky, in her own loud and obvious way about the fact that she thinks there will be consequences for Unique, because Sue is going to make there be consequences, and then fires back at Finn that it will be his fault. Or Will’s when it fails to move Finn. Neither of the two budge, but Finn does manage to pull out the r-word, regarding Sue’s baby girl.
Yes, we are all bigots.
Figgins — oddly enough considering he’s the principal of the school — isn’t aware that Unique wasn’t born female. He seemed to go through a silent struggle with himself while all the drama was going on between Sue, Will and Finn, but seemed pleased enough at the end that everyone but Sue seemed to be happy with Unique identifying as female, so he was too.
This scene was super powerful — and too powerful for some people. I’ve noticed now on Tumblr a few trans people are really upset by the transphobic comments and the misgendering Unique had to deal with.
Sue’s language was super-extreme, but I think she pretty much always is, and she’s Sue, and once tried really hard to shoot Brittany out of a cannon to her almost certain death, so you know whatever Sue is saying is probably wrong. Either way, if it’s upsetting trans people, I’m bothered too, and I’m hoping some will share their perspectives either here or elsewhere. I have asked a few people for their thoughts.
My take on the misgendering is that Unique is still usually dressing as Wade, so the kids are still unsure of what to call her and which pronoun to use. I guess I expect that will remedy itself as her identity becomes more clear in the story (I think it’s been pretty clear for quite some time to viewers, which is why the misgendering seems so appalling).
However, it’s hard to look at this without thinking of times that Glee has been unnecessarily transphobic — when Mike uses a trans slur and is unchecked by the adults in the scene, and also cutting the LGBT verse of “Born This Way” in all performances of it, even if they are openly referencing homosexuality in every performance of it. There’s also a fun transphobic slur in the original pilot. And of course, we’ve been through 3 years already of Rachel being called “man hands” and Kurt being called “lady”, although neither of these two characters is trans, it’s still problematic language and misgendering.
Glee often deals well with themes of authenticity and performance. Most of the characters are more themselves when they perform, and reality isn’t escaped, only heightened in fantasy sequences (most of the time — Artie sometimes gets out of his chair in his fantasies). When we first meet Unique, she’s struggling with being herself, and finally is, on stage, and she wins all the awards.
Blaine, too, is most himself when he performs, to the point where he is unable to perform romance anymore, even if he was able to perform it before Kurt, now that romance IS Kurt, he just can’t go there. So instead, he’s cast himself as Teen Angel. Is he trying to be a Teenage Dream again? Because that’s essentially what Teen Angel is — a dream Frenchy has that convinces her to go back to school and let herself grow up instead of rushing things and not doing a very good job at it.
Kurt, too, had his moment when he ditched the predictable Music of the Night to perform Not The Boy Next Door, which was about embracing his difference, and he blew everyone away (just not enough to get into NYADA).
Santana can only sing her feelings to Brittany. Will solves a lot of issues in his life when he forms the Acafellas, even if it doesn’t last very long. And Will cannot teach kids Spanish, even with music, because it’s not him. But Mr Martinez? He sure can.
So this was called “The Role You Were Born to Play”. And we have some interesting statements that help us seek this out.
Kitty persistently references Marley’s genetic destiny, saying she’s going to get really fat, or even implying she already is.
Blaine was never born to play Danny Zucko. He’s completely right when he sings a Sandy song (although it’s a shame we don’t get to see him in a nightie) and probably a little bit terrified and searching for something when he casts himself as teen angel. It’s an easy gig, you see, telling someone else how to fix their life. There is, by the way, excellent meta on Tumblr about the Hopelessly Devoted staging and how it recreates a moment in a film called “Across The Universe” where the arrangement of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” that Kurt sang about his father originates. I also want to point out this is the second time they have mirrored Blaine with an Asian woman. Fingers crossed this is another indicator he’s not going to be whitewashed.
Unique, of course, tells us that Rizzo’s story “hot bitch who thinks she’s pregnant and has a heart of gold” is pretty much Unique’s life story. And we’re surprised, but we don’t know her that well yet.
Marley (Sue) is obviously Sandra Dee because both characters share the same original maddening perfection. Both, of course, overcome it — Marley will hopefully overcome her perfection for a reason better than John Travolta.
Sam wants to be Kenicke because he’s already been knocked out by a car door.
Tina gets the “who’s Jan?” part. Obviously.