Class Discussion: 4×16 “Feud” Reaction

Editors’ Note: episode reactions at Deconstructing Glee come from a rotating panel of contributors from all around the globe. Seriously, let us know if you’d like to be part of our Secret Society of Superheroes, here! We could use more contributors as we move toward the final episodes of the season. This week’s post is written by TheBadassMuppet!

For me, the strangest part of “Feud” is how often the lines become blurry on who’s feuding with whom, and about what.

Feud #1: Finn vs. Will.

  • Will is upset with Finn for kissing Emma, but all Finn seems to want is to be forgiven. He’s shown no desire to keep pursuing Emma and seems aware that he screwed up. Is it even a feud if there’s no argument?
  • The epic music at the episode’s opening is ironic, as Will is not confronting Finn or even trying to get him to leave; Will’s only being passive-aggressive, treating Finn like a gofer. He makes Finn his subordinate when, in theory, they are supposed to be partners.
  • As with all storylines in this episode, femininity is disparaged; Marley tells Finn to “grow a pair” and become his own person/character. Inexplicably, he plans to stop letting Will control him by *also* getting a non-specific high school teaching credential.

Feud #2: Rachel vs. Santana over Brody, OR Santana vs. Brody, OR Rachel and Kurt (???) vs. Santana over Brody, OR Brody vs. Finn.

  • Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 9.24.48 AMAll of these people are fighting over whom Rachel should be romantically involved with, and the most complacent person here, sadly, is Rachel.
  • If Rachel’s false alarm pregnancy – at least it wasn’t a miscarriage – is supposed to make her examine her “choices,” which choice does the show want her to regret: multiple partners, inadequate contraceptives, or just Brody? I’m inclined to think it’s just Brody, as his sex work is treated by all as a shameful secret that automatically makes him unworthy of Rachel. (If singing together = sex, what equals sex work?) This is Glee’s third foray into sex work (after Puck and Sam) but the first time it’s been more than a joke or a plot device.
  • Before discovering his secret, Santana threatens Brody’s masculinity by saying he has an STI; afterward, she simply arranges for him to be beaten up by another man. I’ll admit, I found it gross that the storyline devolved into Finn once again invading Rachel’s life and asserting ownership of her.

Feud #3: Blaine vs. Sue and Becky

  • Their apparent feud is over whether Blaine will be a “sexually non-threatening” cheerleader, performing at Sue’s will.
  • The gendering here is especially interesting: Sue wants a gay male Cheerio (who can pass as straight) because she wants a guy on the team who won’t ogle the girls. Ironically, Sue and Becky are the ones being sexually inappropriate with Blaine: groping, kissing, objectifying, and spreading rumors about his sex life.
  • Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 9.26.01 AMThe “Blaine is on the bottom” sign is especially upsetting to him; is this because he doesn’t want people speculating about his sex life or because he doesn’t want to be feminized? (“It’s not true. Not really.”) Not for nothing, this comes back when Sue commands Blaine to be the “bottom of my Cheerios pyramid.”
  • “I Still Believe” seems to have been chosen with Kurt in mind, but despite Mariah Carey’s diva status, it’s not theatrical. Blaine is relying solely on his voice, which contrasts with Sue’s over-the-top Nicki Minaj theatricality. His red and blue outfit in this number harkens back to his Dalton uniform, but this time, he is alone. Blaine does not want to be on a group-think team anymore (Warblers, Cheerios); he wants instead to be taken seriously as an individual, or, at most, as one-half of a couple.
  •  At the end, we learn that Blaine and Sam plan to destroy Sue and/or the Cheerios from the inside. Is Blaine using the guise of femininity as camouflage?
  • Blaine’s middle name, Devon, can mean “poet” (or “citizen of Devon, England,” which is less interesting).

Feud #4: Ryder vs. Unique.

  • Ryder is transphobic toward Unique to deflect the conversation away from coming between Jake and Marley(!).
  • Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 9.27.19 AMJake vs. Ryder would have been the obvious choice for a feud; what does it mean that first Unique stands in for Marley (and, by extension, Jake) in confronting Ryder, and then that Ryder is able to make the whole thing about Unique’s identity? The bizarre conflation is reinforced when Jake steps back in, bringing their conflicts full-circle: “It doesn’t matter what you [Ryder] see. You don’t get to decide.”
  • The (problematic) song is “The Bitch Is Back,” as if Unique is fighting for the right to be a “bitch,” a sexist slur, and rather than competing, Ryder’s goal is to suppress her “bitchiness” (or, actually, her right to be the woman she knows herself to be). Unique gives tiaras to the girls (minus Brit and Sugar, who did not appear in this ep for some reason), plus Artie (???).
  • Why is katiexoxo the voice of reason? Online, you can be whomever you want with the usual outside interference (eg., transphobia) removed. Do you expect katiexoxo to come back?
  • On a lighter note, are Jake’s and Ryder’s scenes, like Marley’s and Kitty’s, intentionally homoerotic? “I’ve got good hands. You know if you give me the ball again, I won’t let you down.

This week’s post written by Deborah Jannerson/TheBadassMuppet, Secret Society of Superheroes
Age: 26
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, UA
Primary Glee interests: QUILTBAG characters and issues, musical theater homages, Quinn
What else: Novelist, feminist, lesbian, bookworm, Leo, Woody Allenite, and all-around badass muppet
Also lives here


3 thoughts on “Class Discussion: 4×16 “Feud” Reaction

  1. I don’t think it’s the first time sex work has been treated as something other than a joke or a plot device–in “Hold on to Sixteen”, at least, I think it was treated seriously as a source of shame by Sam (“Am I ashamed I work here? Yeah, I’m ashamed”), a target for Blaine’s anger (Blaine, who was really “feuding” with Finn, but found Sam an easier target to strike at), and some sort of destroyer of innocence by Rachel (“You’re good at [stripping] because you have that boy-next-door innocence that makes you approachable, okay? You’re good at it for all the reasons that you shouldn’t be doing it.”). Brody too is doing sex work for financial reasons, but I suppose his financial needs are less noble than Sam’s were–tuition, rather than putting shoes on his little brother’s feet. And, at least when it comes to what Rachel’s view might be, Brody has no “innocence” to lose, being the experienced older man rather than the virginal high school student.

    I’m with you on how gross the Finn and Brody stuff was, and for me it was compounded by the fact that *Santana* had arranged it. Along with confirming Finn’s ownership of Rachel, Santana also seemed to be confirming Finn’s right to know the (sexual) secrets of people who have nothing to do with him and his right to make choices on their behalf (both Rachel’s behalf and Brody’s behalf)–I guess she really internalized the lessons of I Kissed a Girl. Jake, of course, did something like this earlier this season when he told Ryder’s deepest secret to Finn.

  2. I haven’t had the opportunity to watch the episode yet and obviously there could be important clues or insights I need from the episode before commenting, but is it possible “katiexoxo” might be Blaine? I realize all the discussion seems to be pointing to Unique, however I’m not sure from the recaps if that was actually revealed in the episode? Considering his hook-up with “Eli C” earlier in the season, proving disastrous for his relationship with Kurt, my initial response when I had this thought was it couldn’t possibly be Blaine, believing he’d learned his lesson about the dangers of and fantasy-reality lines that can be crossed in unhealthy ways with internet dalliances. Though “Eli C” would also seem to indicate he isn’t unfamiliar with interacting with people on the internet in particular ways. The “xoxo” (hugs and kisses) in the name also reminds me of Blaine’s “xo xo xo” on Blaine’s hand-drawn apology card that came with Kurt’s flowers at the end of “The Break-Up”.

    Even if there isn’t this literal katiexoxo=Blaine connection here, I can see potential parallels already between Ryder’s risky interactions with “katiexoxo” and Blaine’s with “Eli C”. Blaine’s consequences turned out to be less dangerous to his person, but still paid a self-destructive price for letting something that occurred on the internet seep into his life beyond the internet. Whatever line there between innocuous internet fantasy to damaging reality, Blaine crossed it and luckily the consequences only involved a break-up with his boyfriend and largely emotional turmoil (as far as what seems demonstrable anyway). Steep consequences to be sure, but it could have been so much worse. Might Ryder prove not to be so lucky?

  3. I agree with all of this, but I want to point out that in “The Bitch Is Back”, Elton is calling himself a bitch, not someone else.

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