Why Glee Is, Seriously, Just So, So Awful

January 30, 2012


Jules, over at Go Guilty Pleasures, and I get along great.  We both like things that are funny, we both live in states where, bizarrely, you can’t pump your own gas, we both have had people reach our blogs because of searches related to chipmunks.  Birds of a feather.  But there is one thing we feel very differently about, and that is the TV show, Glee.  We thought it might be good to have a little point/counterpoint on the show, and so today I invite you to read my side, go to her blog and read hers, and then think it over for yourself and then realize that I’m right.

Hours I’ll be begging – begging – for on my death bed.

Side note: before you accuse me of not knowing what I’m talking about, know that I watched the first season (wanted to know what the hype was about), barely making it to the end, and then watched a few more recent episodes to make sure it hadn’t improved. Also: Now, don’t get all “Oh, Jules is so adorable and she posts pictures of her dog and gave me a slap bracelet!” on me.  We’ve had some good times together, right?  Right.  And even though I proposed this little point/counterpoint, I’ve decided it’s unfair, because Jules gets to be all upbeat and yay! and second husband! and singing!  While I get to be Harumph and Stupid and Brain Dead and Listen To The Velvet Undergound, heathens! So, here we go: Why Glee Is Just So, So Awful.

Yeah! Kick out the jams, mother-gleekers!

1. It does bad things for good songs.  Have you ever listened to music from Glee outside of the show?  It’s the most anemic, soulless thing you can imagine.  Music is so wonderful – it’s among the best things about life, about being human.  Why would you want all of the life and joy and oomph and sexy and heart drained from your music?  “Hey, if you like that Chicken Parmesan you’re going to love this lukewarm can of low-sodium chicken broth!” 2. It does bad things for bad songs.  One of the big things promoters of the show mention is that it introduces people to music.  First off, if someone has somehow never encountered this strangely pleasing phenomena of harmonious sounds linked together in catchy ways, this is like taking them to the public pool and saying, “Behold! The ocean!” Secondly, is that really our big concern?  That kids aren’t getting enough exposure to Beyonce and Katy Perry and Salt-N-Pepa?  Really?  Because that “Shoulda Put A Ring On It” song really doesn’t need aid in dissemination (and that one was on possibly the single “best” episode).

Oh, man, I love the way they challenge objectifying, traditional notions of beauty and popularity!

3. It’s misogynistic.  Stay with me, I’m getting serious for a moment.  The female characters on the show all seem to be liars, betrayers, manipulators and shrews, if not a combination of all of those.  The male characters tend to be good people, whose problems primarily stem from the treachery of females.  Even the mean, ol’ football players are all good-hearted inside.  Why was it necessary to take the female character with a stutter, but found her voice through singing – the purported moral of the show – and have it turn out that not only was she faking the stutter, but doing so was a betrayal of a male character?  Tell me this is perpetuating positive things. 4. For a show that’s about promoting positivity, Producer Ryan Murphy seems pretty petty and vicious.  His responses to artists to decline to allow their songs on his show are pretty well known, most notably when Kings Of Leon declined and his response was, “F–k you, Kings of Leon.  You guys are self-centered assholes.”  Ah, can’t you just feel the understanding and inclusiveness?  Granted, their reply to Murphy matched his childishness, petulance and viciousness, but this was not an isolated incident.  He also seems to absolutely lash out at anyone who belittles the show.  Credit goes to him, truly, for making a show with a gay character to whom many teens have connected, but that doesn’t make him a nice guy,

Yes, I’m pining for the good old days, and promoting a show that was canceled after 8 episodes. I’m comfortable with who I am.

5. It’s pretty hypocritical.  Oh, it’s a show about it being okay to be an outsider?  To be different and not part of the “cool” crowd?  Is it?  Oh, gosh, I must have the wrong show.  We must be talking about Freaks & Geeks.  I was thinking of the one about the football players and cheerleaders who engage in complex social drama against a backdrop of colorful types who occasionally get a, oh, let’s call it a “token” episode where they’re the focus. 6. It’s not a musical!!!  I’m not a huge fan of musicals, but I appreciate them. I respect them.  But this whole Moulin Rouge/Mamma Mia thing where you take songs that were already hits and sing them again?  And have choppy choreography so you’re also not seeing actual dancing?  THAT’S NOT A MUSICAL!  THAT’S A KARAOKE MIX-TAPE THAT YOU’VE FILMED!  Then, on Glee, they often drop even the pretense that they’re actually singing in the scene, so now it’s like showing up for this karaoke night and saying, “Hey, I brought this recording of me performing to go with the background music!  Enjoy!” 7. Come on.  Seriously.  Seriously.  Deep down, you know I’m right.  Look in your heart.  Come on.  Think about music.  Think about Aretha, and Bruce and The Black Keys.  Think about The Rolling Stones and The White Stripes and Van Halen.  Think about music.  Then, think about this:

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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57 Comments on “Why Glee Is, Seriously, Just So, So Awful”

  1. gojulesgo Says:

    Darn you, Byronic Man! Why did you have to have so many good points, and wait, more points than me, I think!! I honestly never thought of the misogynistic angle, but I can see where you’d get that. I’ve definitely gotten hung up on the hypocracy, and “Jump” IS one of the worst songs they’ve ever done!

    And maybe THAT’S why I like it – it’s karaoke! I don’t really like most musicals.

    Freaks and Geeks! Salt in the wound. I LOVE that show.

    Well played, BFF. This has been a very enlightening experience for me.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Freaks & Geeks will unite us again. Phew.


    • djlitproject Says:

      To play devil’s advocate here I have to comment on the idea of misogyny. Now if the roles were reversed and it were the male characters doing all of these horrible things then there would also be an out cry about how terrible the men treat the women yet and still the woman remain in the arch-typical passive female role. You can’t get away from this notion that everything in this world is the fault of a man. Not to say that sexism doesn’t exist. It most certainly does on both ends, propagated by and against both genders. But in other instances a story is just a story is just a story. People create characters. The writers know exactly in their minds who that character is as a person and the viewers/readers/listeners are left to give their own interpretation of what’s created…


  2. becomingcliche Says:

    I tried to like the show, I really did. But the writers couldn’t decide if they wanted it to be an edgy, dry comedy or one more mainstream, so I was never quite sure which lines were the jokes. And the characters were inconsistent. I was not sure who to like, who to hate, and who was there for comic relief.


  3. MJ, Nonstepmom Says:

    Thank you for grasping the “thats not a musical -its a karaoke mix tape” ! Way too many are being dilusioned into not knowing the difference. The only thing I did like about the show was their take on crazy women…. for once not trying to make them all “high powered lawyers that work with orphans on weekend” types….. but that got old before season one ended.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      People often look at me like I’m crazy or an idiot for railing against the modern “musical,” until I think I’m just out of touch. It’s not “Re-mediating,” it’s just lazy.


  4. WSW Says:

    One-half of one episode. That’s as far as I got before my hair began to smoke and my digestion started acting up. What that twit of a producer needs is a little Nirvana ECT.


  5. madtante Says:

    I still haven’t watched Glee, either. I cannot imagine from the likes of coworkers who love it, that it would be tolerable (to me–and I’m a super-fan of the Jewison production of Jesus Christ Superstar, so I ain’t hatin’ on musicals).


  6. cappy @ writer's block Says:

    I love Jules, but I have to agree with you! I watched the first season because I figured it must be really good if everyone liked it so much, but I found the plot to be really drawn out and I didn’t even like most of the characters. And the SONGS. I’m sorry. But that whole thing where they shout notes at the beginning of the song (like in the video you put at the end of your post)…I don’t really know if that made sense, but whatever. Anyway, that thing is super annoying. It grates on my ears. It makes me angry. And I don’t think any of them have that great of voices. They’re all really…Britney Spears, to be honest. Poppy and not full of character. I’d take The Velvet Underground any day. 🙂


  7. pegoleg Says:

    Having never sat through an entire episode, I can’t say I’m qualified to comment. But, even though you said we couldn’t factor it in, I can’t help being swayed by the bright, pink gleam on my wrist…

    This point/counterpoint would have been a little meatier if you started it out like an old Saturday Night Live sketch “Jane, you ignorant slut..”


  8. She's a Maineiac Says:

    But Jules took a slushy to the face. That is devotion. Is there a video of you getting hit with a frosty mug of cold beer? Or a hot steaming mug of contempt?

    Freaks and Geeks. sigh. We DVR’d it and watch the same few episodes over and over.

    (psst…don’t tell Jules this but…I hate Glee. Never managed to even get through a single commercial…)


  9. Life in the Boomer Lane Says:

    I’m giving you a whole bunch of points because I don’t watch Glee. I tried, but it stuck in my throat and I had to hawk it out and it didn’t look real good that way. But now I have to take some points away because Jules makes crazy good videos. But then I have to give you back a point because you numbered things and made them bold and I like that. Also low sodium chicken broth is made from the bath water chickens use on Saturday night. So you have more points, but just barely.


  10. thesinglecell Says:

    Yyyyyeah. I’m with you. I went to Go Guilty Pleasures just in case she could convince me of something even Jane Lynch could not, and, as I suspected… nope. I love music, I’m a singer, I sang in the choirs in high school, I was a kind of nerd… and Glee has never appealed to me. It’s clever sometimes, yes… but the music makes my soul ache and the storylines are just… I mean.. you burst into song because your girlfriend is pregnant? No. No one has ever burst into song for that reason. Ever.


  11. Debra Colby-Conklin Says:

    Yayyy….I’m not alone in my nonGleefulness! My daughter thinks I’m crazy cuz I can’t stomach this show…but she’s 25 and I’m…well….not 25. Gimme an episode of CSI anyday.


  12. The Good Greatsby Says:

    All great points. I liked the first episode of Glee and my wife thought we would watch it together, but then every single episode was the exact same story but with different songs.


  13. BrainRants Says:

    TV such as this makes me want to suck-start an automatic handgun. Bravo, Byronic, for verbally raping and abusing the show… which merely serves to demonstrate that nothing on prime time is worth watching.


  14. Curly Carly Says:

    I completely agree with you. I’ve tried to watch this show many times and find myself cringing after nearly every comment or song. It makes me crazy that they act like they’re being progressive, while drawing attention to peoples’ differences rather than just acting like it’s not a big deal.


  15. Elyse Says:

    I agree with you too. It is astonishing how little talent is needed to produce the junk on TV. There really should be a market for talented bloggers like all of us on the box.


  16. PCC Advantage Says:

    I completely agree with #1 and #5, and yet I still watch it (on occasion).

    I think that Glee butchers the songs I love/hate, and that Freaks and Geeks was groundbreaking, and yet, I still watch Glee.

    I’m ashamed of myself.


  17. Roger Says:

    Well, I do think you make some great points. The recent version of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” made my ears bleed. One point I would disagree with you on… I think many of male characters are as horrible, manipulating, and self delusional as the female characters. Perhaps the scales are slightly unbalanced in gender stereotypes, but not by much. One point I would like to add to your case… the art direction makes me cry a little at night. In general “Glee” is the meth of teenage TV drama. It ruins your life but it’s an addiction hard to quit.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Well, I’m certainly not going to deny a claim that the characters are more vile… perhaps that element grew after I bailed out? Or I could have just missed it, I accept that possibility. That’s interesting, though. In that first season we were just hit in the face with a sense of “this producer is someone who does not care for women.”


  18. Bluejellybeans Says:

    I know I’m going against the tide here, but I like Glee. It is not my feel good show (that’s friends for me), like Jules, but I enjoy watching it.
    That said, I have to admit that you made a pretty good case and that I agree with many of the things you said. But I think the key here is do not expect greatness, just enjoy the music 😉


  19. ifiwerebraveblog Says:

    I LOVED Freaks and Geeks. But I also like Glee. And it has nothing to do with slap bracelets.

    But you make some good very points.


  20. Allie Marie Lancaster Says:

    I love you. I hate that freaking show. So much that whenever I try to explain why I start seething and can’t think straight. So, thank you! Now I have a post to direct people to. Phewph.


  21. Meet the Buttrams Says:

    I can only say that Jane Lynch is brilliant no matter what she does. Except that Nook commercial. Are they not paying her enough on Glee?


  22. prttynpnk Says:

    its true. The first episode hooked me with its surreal meanness and Sue, but now it just feels like ryan murphy axe grinding about his own crappy high school years. Be strong lou reed! Dont take the check! I could not survive mediocre fynn attempting a walk on the wild side.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I did actually find the first episode fairly charming. I was waffling, but found the ending good, and the version of “Don’t Stop Believin'” surprisingly catchy…. then kept waiting for it to come back to that.

      And Lou Reed just recorded an album with Metallica, who themselves just released a “Metallicopoly” board game, so I’m not sure if there’s much hope there…


  23. matt. Says:

    Well that was a complete load of bullshit. Why does the music sound worse ( in your opinion) when they do it? because its autotune is a small atom compared to the mansion of autotune in every pop song.



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