T-Boned: The Uncomfortable and Ultimate Glee Fail

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Spoilers, if you care.

A few weeks ago, while watching Glee:

Me: *bitch bitch rant rant*
Brandon: “We hate this show now, don’t we?”
Me: “Yep, pretty much.”
Brandon: “We’re still gonna watch it though, right?”
Me:  “At least until the end of the season.”

In its tradition of bringing public attention to tense matters facing high school students today, Glee explored a new dark side of teen bullying and homophobia: teen suicide as a result of bullying for one’s non-heterosexuality.

Now, this is a very real and very tragic thing. It is absolutely awful and wretched that anyone should make another person feel as though they don’t deserve to be alive, mock them mercilessly until they try not to, and then continue to mock them when their attempt to kill themselves does not result in death. Or even when it does. NO ONE should ever feel that is acceptable behavior. And it is deeply sad and tragic that anyone should feel they have no way out but death. There’s always another way out, there ARE people who will love you and care about you, you will be missed. Not by the assholes who drove you to this point, but who gives a shit what they think anyways?-

If ever someone feeling this way happens to read this, please seek help. Call a hotline, email a friend, find a family member of counselor and talk to them. Your life is worth it; you are worth it. The National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255, and the Trevor Project Suicide Hotline for LGBTQ people: 1-866-488-7386.

Now. I applaud Glee for focusing on these issues and for exploring some of the angles of them that don’t get this kind of attention and treatment in most media. While the world is becoming more aware of the problem of bullying and how bad it really can be, the show allows people to see a personal side of it. A fictionalized one, sure, but they make it personal nonetheless. Bravo to that. I love that they are doing this. My complaints here are about story and presentation of a story and characters in a way that I personally find unsatisfactory, especially in light of the issue they were taclking. This is not that they are tackling these issues in the first place.

Let’s take it one section at a time.

Karofsky’s Suicide Attempt: This was awful in all the right ways. I cringed, I prayed I wasn’t seeing what I was seeing, the methodical process through which he changed into a nice suit, prepared himself, and then stepped into the closet where he would make his attempt…oh god. It was awful, and it should be. Worse still, though, was the brief jump we got of Karofsky’s father finding him, clutching his unconscious son and screaming for help, desperate, ragged…this was exactly what it should and needed to be.

Daniel Roebuck, who plays Paul Karofsky, the dad, put in possibly the best albeit shortest performance in this episode in this flash of a scene.

The Glee Kids’ Reactions: These were also good and done well. People were shaken, they said things sharply, some without thinking about it, some thinking about it too much. The argument between Quinn and Kurt was a difficult one, with both of them being disrespectful of the other, but it made sense for what was going on. What happened isn’t something that any of these kids should really know how to deal with (does anyone, ever?), and they’ve both been judgmental characters in the past. The tense situation heightened that rather than assuaging it, and this made sense.

Mr. Schuester’s and Sebastian’s Reactions: Bull. Shit. Mr. Schue talked to the Glee kids about how one time in high school, he was caught cheating and in fear of facing his father, he went to the school roof and thought about jumping off and taking his own life instead. Sorry, Schue, but you did not have suicidal thoughts: you had a melodramatic moment. While this kind of pressure certainly can drive kids to considering or even committing suicide, from Schuester who has long touted high school as the highlight of his life and a jolly grand time for him, this confession rang nothing but false. We’ve never been lead to believe he was pushed to keep up his grades, that he had trouble doing so, that his relationship with his father was precarious and based on fear. So everything about this moment was poorly done.

Sebastian, the evil bastard, had a flashback to being nasty to Karofsky at a gay bar at some point in the past, and did a Heel-Step-Turn and turned into a glowing good guy who was ever so sorry for his misdeeds. Again, I’m just not buying it. He’s been presented before with hard evidence of the harm his actions have caused and showed absolutely no remorse for it. No, he’s been downright an asshole about it every step of the way. This guy SHOULD have been arrested by now for nearly blinding Blaine and then for threatening to release mocked up nude photos of Finn on the internet. He should be kicked out of Dalton, the school that was touted last season as the one with a zero-tolerance bullying policy. Instead, he NOW decides to completely change his personality. Now, should this sort of incident be jarring like that to someone like him? Yes. Should it be played out like it was? No. Believable from him would’ve been throwing up another defense mechanism to distance himself from taking responsibility for his actions, and some reflection in private about how his words may have contributed to what happened. At THAT point, I would be willing to believe he’d changed, or wanted to. Instead, this happened in the space of a non-existent second, and now he’s a good guy, apparently.

Regionals Performances: Remember when Regionals was the be-all, end-all of Season 1? And this time it only got mentioned in passing the week before the episode where it happened? Glee could take a lesson from Friday Night Lights on this: every season, State was just as big a deal as it was the year before. It didn’t have to dominate every episode, but the chance at it and idea of it was always there, whether or not we actually the big game itself. They balanced this pretty well.

Such stunning and complex choreography! And who the heck are the other six or so girls in this group? Where have they been?

Regionals was treated like a footnote. The performances were boring. I find it hard to believe that New Directions’ amazing Season 1 performance of the Journey songs didn’t win but this sad and boring collection of poorly performed songs did. Even the TroubleTones’ song was boring! I know that if they perform a song once, it must never come back again, but realistically, the Adele mash-up of Rumor Has It/Someone Like You should’ve been their Regionals song. It was goddamn awesome, out-of-the-park amazing, the girls’ best number yet and friggin’ hard to beat.

Oh, and the audience there needs to hold in their standing ovations. It doesn’t actually MEAN anything if you stand up five seconds into every song that’s performed. While I’m complaining about that, stop cutting away to the same shot of Sebastian smiling and clapping, it doesn’t make me think he’s a good guy anymore than his earlier “conversion” did.

Rachel and Finn’s Wedding: Ugh. This is awful. I’m glad the story and characters who aren’t these two idiots are at least acknowledging that this is a terrible idea, that these two should not be getting married so young, but goddammit, parents, step in and say something already! Enough reverse psychology, enough crazy-ass antics to make it not happen, just talk to your kids already! They are old enough to have a discussion about this, and they clearly need to have it.

Quinn’s Car Accident: The real determination of whether this will be the true and ultimate fail depends on what Quinn’s fate is when the show comes back. First, that she would get into an accident was obvious from the second we saw her driving. We never see anyone driving on this show, so it was no mystery. That said, the involvement of the very present-day issue of texting while driving was decent to include, for this show is very much set in its broadcast year(s). And the idea of the switcheroo is good: set it up to have one character narrowly avoid death in the beginning, only to have another one actually bite the dust in the closing.

My problems with it aside from the obvious set-up are these: the accident doesn’t look like it was Quinn’s fault, texting or no. She got hit by someone else who ran a stop sign (in the video, she seems to be on a main road, while the car T-boning her is coming onto that road; around here, that car would be the one with a stop sign at the T intersection, not her) — the texting simply meant she didn’t see it coming. If it’s going to be a moment with a message for viewers, do it right. And second, we don’t know yet if it really was a switcheroo or not. We don’t know if she’s dead. She should be dead, for a lot of reasons — the accident is obviously an awful one, she was directly hit, she’d just been shown to be getting her life together and back on track (oh yeah, I also hated that she got back onto the Cheerios with no problems at all), and that’s a classic sign it’s time to kill someone off. But there have been leaked photos of Dianna Agron on set in a wheelchair. If she isn’t dead but just “pretty hurt” (as in, hurt in a pretty fashion), I declare bullshit. Quinn should be dead. Her character has been mishandled for ages now, so this was as good a send off as anything could be for her, to go out dramatically and in a way that should mark every single character in the show permanently. Anything less is just…shitty writing.

Grow some balls already, Glee!

So you can see why I don’t hold out much hope for it.

Overall, I’ve bitched about a lot of stuff here. But I think the entire premise of the episode was handed poorly. If you’re going to focus on teen suicide, then do that and don’t distract with other major storylines (and boring performances). And if you’re going to pretend you’re killing someone off, kill someone off.

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6 responses »

  1. The only part of this episode that meant anything to me, honestly, was Sue actually showing some damn emotional vulnerability for once – and, for once, admitting that it wasn’t just hormones, it wasn’t something in her eye, she was genuinely upset about what had happened and blamed herself for playing a part in it.

    As for the rest of it, well, we discussed it over e-mail. But giving how completely ridiculous Glee has been lately, this felt like an extended joke. Nothing felt real. Nothing felt authentic. You’re right: Sebastian should be GONE from Dalton. His ass should be grass. And, like you, I saw the ending coming, and it just made the episode feel like even more of a shaggy dog story, with Quinn’s accident as the half-assed punchline.

    The only thing I would say is that I’d really rather not see Quinn die. Yes, logically, she probably should be dead. And maybe this is the Dianna Agron fangirl talking – but honestly, Quinn has been mistreated by the writers for the last two years, and I want to see her get her life back on track. I want to see that girl who was growing and changing and struggling through a huge life-changing experience in Season 1 come back and kick everyone’s asses. I want to see her go farther and rise higher than anyone. And if Quinn is permanently paralyzed by this accident, if she has to deal with that on top of everything else – that feels like it might be enough of a consequence. Glee’s already a live-action cartoon anyway. It was a live-action cartoon from day one. So I’m okay with Quinn not dying even though she really should.

    And really? Quinn dying would probably be the last straw for me. She has been put through the wringer for two damn years. And now, now that she’s finally getting her life back together, the writers just kill her off? No. Screw that. I would have NO reason to keep watching at that point. I’m suck of Schuester, I’m sick of Sue, I’m sick of Rachel and Finn, and even Santana and Brittany aren’t really giving me the emotional payoff I’m looking for. The show barely even seems to acknowledge that they’re in love. We’re just reminded whenever it’s convenient to the plot of the week. Quinn’s comeback is the ONLY reason I’m still watching, and the moment that plotline dies, so does any interest I have in the show.

  2. DeGrassi is SO much better at going there! Hell yes!

    Quinn NOT dying would conversely be the last straw for me. If she doesn’t die, it’s just yet more proof on the pile of the writing sucking on this show. If they’ve got any guts, she’ll be dead.

    OR she’ll be horribly injured and scared and bed-ridden for an indeterminate amount of time. None of this sitting all pretty-like in a wheelchair like in that image I used here. Nuh-uh. We’re talking realistic, awful, lasting injuries here.

  3. This is a bad show. None of you should watch this show. It hurts your thinking parts. It makes stupid.

    In all seriousness, I feel like this is an evolution of what the show has always been: directionless melodrama with a tone problem. They can’t figure out how the show should come off (satire or melodrama) and so bounce back and forth between them, making everything come off false and ham-handed.

  4. LOL.

    But yeah…it really is reaching the peak of that evolution right there. It had potential. And there are some moments of brilliance, but…yeah.

  5. Pingback: TV Tropes: Pretty Hurt « Katie Hallahan | Writings, musings, snarky comments

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