Analysis: Where’s the justice for female characters in ‘Glee’?

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9:24 am EST, May 2, 2012

I’ve been on the fence about Glee since the Britney/Brittany episode. Does one just stop watching, or hope it gets better? I’ve found that as soon as I’m ready to boycott the TV juggernaut, there’s Darren Criss being our Teenage Dream, or an episode so solid making me squee about the show’s comeback.

However, I’ve come to realize Glee has an issue worse than overblown productions, pointless guest stars, or the ridiculous plot lines; it’s ruddy sexist.

Think about it. Are there any females on the show that could be considered good people? Rachel Berry has been manipulative and self-serving since the pilot. Having the last Glee director fired because you weren’t getting solos? Classy. New girl with pipes comes to town, and Berry has her sent to a crack house. Will’s ex-wife faked a pregnancy so he wouldn’t leave her. Quinn told Finn that he knocked her up knowing it was Puck who was the baby-daddy, then sabotaged the adoptive mother to try to get her child back after she gave her up. Sensing a pattern here? Almost every female on Glee is portrayed as crazy and manipulative.

It seems to favour men over women in justice of their stories. Santana is outed by Finn, in public, but sings “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (which is what admitting to yourself and others regarding sexuality is all about, insert sarcasm here) and all is forgiven. Karofsky is outed by the guys on his football team and tries to kill himself.

The other girls seem to be just doe-eyed and submissive in the vein of Emma Pillsbury, Brittany and Tina. Mercedes seems to be the exception to this, though I’m sure if they had more screen time (someone give Tina some lines!) they would become negative stereotypes I would grow to hate as well.

Which leads me to last night’s episode, “Choke,” a great episode that seemed like it had been found in a time capsule from 2009. It had season 1 written all over it, even a storyline that I could back: Domestic abuse. Throughout it was handled wonderfully, until the end. During the beautiful version of “Shake it Out,” Coach Beiste flashes back to giving Cooter another chance after he hit her. This moment instilled me with feminist rage. What’s worse? She has the glee girls and the Sue’s (black and original recipe) trying to help her walk away; and she’s ignoring the help.

I mean, we’ve already had this whole problem in the real world with Rihanna/Chris Brown. Maybe they’re just trying to explore this issue more in the show, but I’m just overwhelmed with how not-ok this is. Teens, maybe even younger, watch this show. They may start gleaning that it’s ok if your boyfriend abuses you, because he loves you and promised he won’t do it again, and no one else is going to love you.

Part of me just wants to think, this is what comes from a show written by three men. But no! Joss Whedon has been writing strong capable women since 1997. It can be done. Hey, can Joss Whedon be the head writer for Glee? Honestly, the only male character I can think of that’s a poor representation of a human is Finn Hudson.

Does Glee just need more female/pro-female writers? Is this just bad or lazy writing? Or do all us girls need to give Ryan Murphy the smack-down on feminism?

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