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Proud to be a Gleek

by Tris Hussey
Proud Gleek - Glee

Over the summer something happened that I really didn’t think would ever happen: I became a Gleek. Yes, I started watching Glee (thank you Netflix) with my wife and we’re almost through Season 4 (Seasons 1-3 are long watched) so we can be ready for Season 5 to start next month. And the thing is, everything I thought I knew about Glee was completely wrong. It wasn’t just teenage drama set to show tunes, the show has much, much deeper importance to geeks and non-geeks alike.

Proud gleek - glee

In all honesty my wife and I agree that we should have been watching Glee from the start. First, my wife is a real-and-for-true professional opera singer. Second, my wife teaches kids (lots of teens and tween) voice lessons privately. She was always being asked if she a) saw/heard a song on Glee or b) if they could sing a song heard on Glee. Third, we both really like music (for the record I can’t sing and our musical tastes mostly overlap, but not 100%).

Now for non-singers, you should know that Glee is to real performing as anything about computers or coding in movies is to real life. Oh sure you can write a song in an afternoon, get it perfect, choreograph it flawlessly, and then win the championship…just like I can hack into someone’s encrypted files in about 15 seconds with six keystrokes. Beyond that small detail, I think all geeks should watch episodes of Glee for no other reason than they are us and we are them.

In the 4 seasons of Glee that we’ve watched, Glee has dealt with teen pregnancy, coming out, being different, death, love, more ethical issues than I can count, school violence, teen suicide, gender identity issues, and anything else that would happen to someone who wants to live a life away from the status quo. Sure I’m late to the Glee party, and you all know this by now, but geeks are different. Geeks—I couldn’t believe we’ve gotten our own week on YouTube—are responsible for a lot of the amazing creative things in this world, and it’s nice to see it embraced on national TV.

Which is why I think being a Gleek and Glee is essential to society right now. We need to embrace diversity and difference. We need to find, build, and maintain safe places for people to be different. Almost every episode in Glee has some mention that Glee club is the one place, the one refuge, that the people there can be themselves. And, no, it’s not always easy. People are flawed, that’s just the truth, but I think what we all can learn from Glee is that we need to accept ourselves and find the places and people where we are accepted for just and simply who we are.
Season 5 of Glee is going to start with dealing with Cory Monteith’s untimely death (in my hometown of Vancouver).

I suspect that Glee will grapple with addiction, our own internal darkness, and how we all have demons to fight. I suspect the writers have taken the extra week to write shows (word is that two will center on Cory/Finn’s passing) that will compel all of us to consider how we deal with our demons and help others who are fighting their own demons. Issues that many of us face daily.

I’m happy to call myself a Gleek if for no other reason I want to support the idea that being different is okay. That finding a place to sing out (and that can be more than actual singing) is important. And knowing that different is hard, but special. Different is essential to making the world a better place.

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2 comments

Avatar of wolfkin
wolfkin August 12, 2013 - 4:40 pm

tl;dr – Season 1 of Glee was fantastic. But in watching 1-3 the show has problems both with it’s message and with it’s storylines and characterizations. When Graduation came, I left.
Have at it. You want to watch Glee. enjoy yourself but as someone who watched it when it was airing in season 1. I have to say that show fell off after that Season 1 finale. 
>It wasn’t just teenage drama set to show tunes,
I disagree. That first season was something special. It was a beautiful mix of drama (at the teenage level) that blended with song. After that it became popular and  you can tell because they had rights to a more modern selection of music. And they clearly just decided to use it. Rather than finding songs that fit the drama. They found drama that fit the songs that they could now afford. Ryan Murphy became as arrogant as the Guitar Hero/Rock Band people who think that their games were responsible for introducing people to music and musicians should consider themselves blessed to be in the lineup. There’s the whole issues of St. Kurt the Babyface who could do no wrong for what felt like 2 seasons. There were times the show pushed tolerance and inclusion to the point of laughable mimicry but to be fair most TV shows do that as well. 
My personal favorite was when the show decided to handle alcohol in the most terrible fashion I’ve ever seen. Age laws are always a complex issue with a teenage audience, but I think the logic that “Oh hey our teacher drinks therefore we should be able to drink” was a particularly numbing concept that the show treated as perfectly valid thinking. Maybe if they’d actually had teenagers playing teenagers it would have been more apparent how utterly ridiculous that idea was.
Outside of the meta aspects even within the show Glee is one of the greatest offenders of what my sister calls “Let’s bring up an issue, and then ignore it”. In Star Trek TNG Worf was the security officer so you knew someone was big and bad when they just rolled over him. But it kept happening to the point where no one took you seriously until you could roll over Worf and even then that wasn’t impressive anymore. Imagine if they had an episode where Worf studied and became even more powerful. and then 2 episodes later bad guys continued to roll over him. That’s what Glee does. They did it with Tina (3×20 “Props”) they do it with Mercedes.
Oh Mercedes only comes out to sing that heavy note and then nothing? Man that’s a shame. Let’s give her a song and then next episode go back to ignoring her. Don’t get me wrong. I do think Lea Michele has range and power, she’s imo the best all around singer on the show just as obvious as it was that Cory Monteith is utterly garbage vocally to the point where I wonder if the casting director was just a huge fan of Kyle XY like me, but what’s the point of showcasing the fact that the ‘team’ has a problem and then never really facing it. If it had something to do with gender or sexuality it would become a permanent fixture in the show but it didn’t and so Tina and Mercedes keep receding to the background.
I watched three seasons of it stomached thru the most awkwardly annoying TV I’ve ever watched. After Graduation I watched a little bit to see if they would pull a Heroes and rather than moving on, keep focusing on the stars people loved. They did. I think 4 episodes into it was as far as I got.

Avatar of pottergleefan4
pottergleefan4 August 17, 2013 - 5:38 pm

I totally agree with you. Glee is awesome and isn’t just about the show tunes. The characters are deep and relatable and funny. Not to mention that the show promotes being yourself. You can’t get that kind of message by watching Real Housewives or any other show out there. Glee is one of a kind. I’m super glad that you and your wife are enjoying it because on thing that Glee is great for is appealing to all audiences. Yes, most of the fans are teens, as I am one myself, but there are some avid watchers who are grownup and can still appreciate the show. 🙂 It really brings the generations together.

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