Regular readers of Bitch know by now that Glee, while addictive and entertaining (if you try and tell me you didn't make a heroic attempt at recreating the choreography from "Safety Dance" alone in your room, I'm going to straight up call you a liar), is imperfect. This week's episode, which tackled religious belief (or the lack thereof), was no different.
A year ago, right after the start of Glee's first season, I complained in this space that the show was riddled with stereotypes. These days I haven't much better to say about the show, other than that, from my perspective the writing has gotten even lazier, which I didn't think was possible. This week's Britney Spears episode, for example, didn't even have a nominal plot, just a disconnected sequence of novocaine-induced hallucinations. Increasingly the show is just an excuse to connect musical interludes, and as people more learned in the field of music have remarked, the interludes are less and less good as time goes on. (I admit I loved the football version of "Single Ladies," but it's been a long time since the show did anything near that inventive.)
I'm hardly the only person who complains about Glee, of course. It seems to be something of a lightning rod for people's complaints, particularly about diversity in television. The reason for this is somewhat immediately obvious; Glee presents itself as being a show about misfits. It's taking up the banner for every kid who hates the social structure of their high school, whose clothes were mocked, who liked the wrong things (like music), or who were just, in the extraordinarily cruel way of teenage thinking, not the right kind of person, because they had a wheelchair, they were pregnant, they were black. For the people for whom any of these things were true, that's a narrative that's pretty close to your heart, and when people go to reproduce it in popular culture, to speak for what it felt like to be excluded and rejected—well, you feel a special ownership over that, I think. At least, I still do, though I'm now more than a decade away from that time in my life.
I would be remiss in talking about pushback against intersectional critiques of pop culture without discussing my long and tormented relationship with the Fox hit Glee. To put it bluntly, I hate Glee.
Yet, a lot of feminists, including some of the staff here at Bitch, love Glee. The show is regularly celebrated on feminist sites, people post videos of their favorite moments, and everyone likes to talk about how great it is.
The reason I don't like Glee is pretty simple: The show has some of the most horrifically troped depictions of people with disabilities I have ever seen. The show's also been criticized for having a lot of problems when it comes to race and gay teens, but I want to focus on the disability aspect today, because the critiques of this show from the disability community have been universally ignored by the feminist community when it's not busy dismissing them.