Kristen Chenoweth is my hero!
So my husband informed me last night that he now has a crush on Kristen Chenoweth…and who can blame him?! While most men might base such a crush on April’s ability to get “a cake out of a kid’s birthday party with the candles still lit” using only the power of her thighs under a micro-mini, my sweet husband bases his crush on her ability to captivate a bowling alley on Bingo night with a stunning rendition of Heart’s ‘Alone’.
I continue to enjoy Glee – gleefully but with a little trepidation. And so tonight I put a little thought into what is holding me back. Some of these characters are pretty wretched. And at first glance it seems especially the female ones! Terri is tricking her husband into thinking she’s pregnant. Sue Sylvester is a power-grabbing megalomaniac. Rachel is so desperate to be the star, she’ll screw over anyone who gets in her way. On top of that, the gay characters are overly flamboyant – I mean, Kurt is sweet, but come on! And Mr. Ryerson is completely over the top and self-centered.
But then I realized: the sweet, simple, fresh-faced good-boy male characters aren’t that great either! Will has a supposedly pregnant wife at home, yet spends every night alternating between his teacher crush, Emma, and his high-school crush, April. And Fin seduces Rachel, totally screwing her over, in an effort to get a scholarship that I’m not entirely convinced he wants for the purpose of taking care of his coming kid.
And I guess that’s why I like it – all the characters, regardless of gender or sexuality, are deeply, deeply flawed. (I did love poor Kurt’s drunken stumbling in the hallway, sneaking Chablis to get through the day!). And so the question I was left with this week is: why have we spent all these episodes scrambling to find the right skinny white girl to lead the choir when we had this amazing, slightly rotund, black girl ready to go with a voice that blew us all away at the end.
Oh, Glee, please next week – give our girl Mercedes the lead!
Yes, Kristen Chenoweth show-stealing performance was fantastic! Who doesn’t love a childish, charming, boozy floozy who actually knows when to say no, if not to intoxicating substances than at least to selfish acts of overindulgence? I actually thought she might turn out to be the dangerous, clever kind of drunk – stare Will down and actually show a conniving bitchy desire to steal from the show and the spotlight from the innocent faced (and not so innocent) kids around her (you know, like the speech she gave to Rachel in the bathroom? except really mean it this time). Instead she comes to her own revelation of selfishness and walks off into the sunset, headed toward Branson. Even though I got the lesson, I was a little disappointed that she wasn’t going to have a few episodes arc to try and sabotage the club. Just for a chance to see those thighs.
But her presence revealed more than her fantastic thighs (and that after birthing a pair of mixed race twins – the good times!) – one of the growing themes of the show: what does it mean to stand out, to have the spotlight, and why does it matter so much? You are so right that all these characters are flawed: sometimes no more than caricatures with one-liners. Some of them seem to be seeking Glee as the alternative community we all expect nerdy arts clubs in high schools to be. And to a degree it is that alternative community, though it is still mostly dominated by the same politics of popularity and stardom these kids are trying to escape, it just so happens that the bossy, precocious Jewish princess is at the top of this pecking order instead of the cliche of a blond girlfriend. Did anyone really believe that Rachel came back to Glee for the community and not because she realized that she could in fact shine as a bigger, more appreciated, brighter star in the midst of a group than being publicly berated as an immature actress in the school musical? Is this show really about that hungry, grasping desire to be center stage and all the ways it will turn a soul – into an alcoholic wash-up, a good-boy teacher in self-denial and self-pity, a militaristic cheerleading coach who advocates canning on the local news? In which case, we might have reason to be grateful that Mercedes hasn’t been pushed to the top yet (though you are so right – what is up with that?).
Final thought: as you point out, all these characters, including the sweet-faced good boys are driven by so many conflicting desires no one gets painted innocent. But did you, like me, feel a kind of awe and appreciation as Fin realized what a jerk he could be? I couldn’t help but smile as he takes a page out of Puck’s book and tries to practice the art of seduction for purely selfish ends. Sure it is awful and I do actually think he regrets being the asshole, but when he gives Rachel exactly what she wants I couldn’t help thinking “who knew you had it in you, Fin?”