Part of my new attempt at a schedule, I’m going to aim to talk about a TV trope on Thursdays. I say “TV” because it’s largely inspired by the website TV Tropes, but these might come from books, movie, TV, games, any media or entertainment for mass consumption there is, really. Plus, Thursday Tropes has some nice alliteration to it.
I know, I know, today’s Friday, deal with it. I’m just getting this thing started! (Glee and The Killing spoilers ahead.)
Also, check out the new look! What do you think? The background is from Cutest Blog on the Block.
Today’s Trope is what I call “Pretty Hurt”, meaning someone who’s pretty but also hurt, but mostly pretty (or hurt in a “pretty” way). TV Tropes calls this “Only a Flesh Wound” and also “Hollywood Healing.” And of course, my new prime example is Quinn Fabray who isn’t dead. Yes, I know, I harked on this already, but now we’ve got confirmation that not only is Quinn not dead, but a whole of other things aren’t happening either.
So you’ll notice that Quinn is in a wheelchair, has no scars, or bandages, and looks as lovely as ever. She’s even singing. The song choice was “I’m Still Standing.” I’ll wait while your eyes recover from that hard roll. The episode opens and Quinn quickly assures the audience and other Glee members that not only is she barely injured at all, but her spinal injuries is merely one of compression and not a break or fracture, meaning her wheelchair status is temporary, she’s already getting feeling back, and she’ll be dancing on stage with them come Nationals. And she’s got a great outlook on her recovery and is thankful she’s not dead, so no tears or apologies or pity, please. Oh good! I was worried we might’ve not reset to status quo for a second there, phew!
There are vague hints throughout the episode that Quinn may be avoiding the idea that she’s stuck like this forever — but thanks to her opening speech and complete lack of visible wounds or any other outward sign besides sitting down a lot more, these come off mostly as Artie wanting to have a buddy who understands his more permanent situation. Since Artie’s been a Jerkass and obnoxiously aggressive with his erroneous opinions more than once in the past, that’s more believable than that Quinn may be overly optimistic and/or making this whole recovery thing up. So let’s face it — she’ll be out of the chair by Nationals and we can move along to never speak of this again.
What’s this really about? The problem of a consequence-free world. Actions in the real world have consequences, and to relate to a fictional and potentially learn from it, those actions also need consequences. I understand that in most cases the recovery time of an injury on TV isn’t going to be as long or as severe as one in real life. And I don’t mind that, but to have essentially NO consequences renders the rest meaningless. Glee isn’t the same kind of world that we see in The Killing. There, we see Councilman Richmond, who was shot in the finale last season, now rendered paralyzed from the waist down. Since then, we’ve only seen him in his hospital bed, straining to feel something in his legs, having a colostomy and catheter changed, fighting against what seems impossible. Like Quinn, he’s a character who’s been shown to be physically active and in his prime, from playing basketball to his sex life (something that shows a character to be fit and healthy as much as exercise does). The Killing is the opposite of Glee, a world where there’s nothing BUT consequences for actions, but the struggle of Richmond to either fight against or accept his condition is so much more believable than Quinn’s faux recovery from her faux injuries.
Glee is at its strongest when dealing with the insecurities of its teenaged characters, because they are real insecurities and often portrayed very well. But insecurities and mistakes are all part of consequences and actions or lack of action, and if those story points are intended to hit home, then they need to be real. This storyline is not real. Nothing about it strikes a chord because in the end, we all know it’s going to be okay, and that has nothing to do with what Quinn chooses to do or not do. She’s robbed of any real agency because the writing gives her none to begin with. She’s just, you know…pretty hurt.
(Let’s not get started on that Artie is clearly moving towards being a romantic interest for her only now that they’re both in wheelchairs, and almost without hesitation by the writers, and that prior to now, they’ve hardly ever spoken directly to one another.)