Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Glee-Cap: F U, Glee, for making me tear up

Sorry I didn't get this week's Gleecap together terribly quickly, the show did cast focus on a couple of its female characters this week dealing with the harsh concepts of humiliation and reputation. While it had its share of laughs and ARGHS there were two really strong scenes that shed some light on my two favorite characters and even dealt with consequences.
First, Quinn,
While her big scene came at the end of the episode, it once again called attention to Quinn's depth as a character.

Mr. Schuster confronts Quinn privately about a list of Glee Club Members organized by their sluttiness, which had caused the major conflicts in the episode. The scene reveals Quinn's remorse, but also, the complexities of her social situation. She wrote the list in a hope to be seen again, having lost her popularity, social power, her position on the cheerleading squad, her boyfriend, her lover and control over her body to pregnancy. At the time, she thought having a bad reputation would be preferable to being invisible.
"People would part like the red sea when I walked down the hallway..."
"You're going to give that baby to a family that loves it, that really wants it and you're going to go on to do incredible things"
"You really think I can get it all back one day?"

"No, I think you can get something even better, I mean Come on, You're Quinn Febree, those people didn't move down the halls... you moved them."

"Thanks Mr. Shu', you're a really good teacher, even if everyone is calling you a manwhore"
This scene took me by surprise, especially after:

When Rachel decides to use all they guys she's ever tried to have any romantic relationship with in order to make herself seem desirable, or bad. Possibly real teenage behavior, sure, consequences, sure I suppose, but her response still seems... uncomprehending? There is a real distasteful element to using the guys like that, and I hope that there is some note of how using three girls in a video and playing with them like that would be similarly inappropriate, I can't think of a bit that Glee has done previously that did that... just don't break my heart with a double standard, Glee. I compel you, Glee, with the AWESOME POWER OF THE INTERNET, don't break my heart.

Ms. Pillsbury slut-shamed Mr. Schuster– and while slut-shaming of any gender is lame– he did make out with another woman and she's learning to stand up for herself. The funniest thing about Ms. Pillsbury to me is that she's really learning a lot from the cruel criticisms of Sue Sylvester.

Ah Sue, It's time I talked about you.

Sue is a fantastic villain, she has real skills and is an incredible ability to turn a situation to her advantage. Like in this episode, when she faces humiliation for the first time when an embarrassing video of her is posted to YouTube. She skyrockets to Internet infamy and draws the attention of Olivia Newton-John with whom she makes a response video and earns a boatload of cash.

While Sue's methods are ruthless and often involve blackmail, manipulation, cruelty and other terrible means to her ends, one has to love a good villain. The Glee Club learns more from fighting her than they would otherwise, grow in response and become stronger because of it. Her attempts to take them down to save her insanely large cheerleading budget only help turn them into more refined performers.

Sue is aspirational, she speaks her mind (even when her opinions are repulsive) and she IS the holder of national championships with the Cheerios Squad that bring positive attention and funding to the High School. She gets the best lines and she doesn't hide her opinion of people from them, she's brash and honest (even if her opinion of truth is skewed) and she is fearless.
The true magic of Sue's character though, is that the show gives the audience insight into Sue that no one else sees. Sue has a disabled sister who she cares for, dotes on, confides in and adores.
Throughout this and other episodes, we see scenes where she has sincere, sweet moments caring for her sister. While Sue is often comedic, the sincerity she shows with her sister, and in respecting the disabled as people, adds superb depth to her character and to the show.

In another episode, Sue put a disabled girl on the Cheerios Squad and had to face criticism that she was expecting too much of the girl, which bore out as implying that by expecting her to do the same things she expected of other cheerleaders she was somehow being cruel. Her methods proved to be ultimately brilliant, the girl proved to others and to herself she was capable of the same rigor Sue expected of anyone else. That character is still on the Cheerios Squad and is clearly accepted by her peers.

Sue's interactions with her sister do not seem tacked on, though it could easily have seemed that way, but for the magnificent acting of Jane Lynch. Who really loves the character and brings both the comedy and quiet drama out of a character who could easily have become a caricature.

From an interview:

Q. As awful as Sue can be, one of her great moments this year came when she showed tough love for a Down syndrome cheerleader. Was that one of the highlights of the season for you?
Yes. That was the "Wheels" episode. Sue Sylvester's sister, we find out, has Down syndrome and is in a home. It's a more touching episode, and we get to see a softer side of Sue. I think there's a decency to Sue. There were three or four different moments where you saw a kind of a decency and rationality.
Q. But then, in the blink of an eye, she can turn nasty again.
Absolutely. Good Sue is very short-lived. She just really enjoys being an awful person. She really gets great glee, if you will, out of being a terrible person. I think she just really enjoys shocking people.
I love laughing at and with Sue and I love that the same character regularly brings a tear to my eye.

Previous Glee-Caps: The Madonna Episode, Am I Taking Crazy Pills?

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