I think I've actually been enjoying Glee this season. Season 4 has had its not-terrible moments, thanks to a change of pace in the fake drama school in New York, a handful of particularly well-crafted musical numbers, the open shaming of Finn Hudson (despite being unfortunately paired with Cory Monteith's real-life personal matters) and the overall lack of Will Schuester. Regrettably, "Shooting Star" was the worst piece of crap this show has produced in a very long time... if not ever, so much so that it warrants this addendum blog post to the forthcoming recap. Here's why:
The Treatment of Down Syndrome
Glee's treatment of Becky Jackson can fluctuate between "pretty empowering," "totally normal, which is great" and "questionably horrifying" (and I still don't really know what to make of her inner monologue being voiced by Helen Mirren), but last night's characterization was just plain nasty. Not only was this oftentimes strong young woman with agency horribly infantilized in "Shooting Star" -- she was also literally deadly. I don't buy for a second that Becky lacks the sense not to bring a gun into school, and I'm appalled that the writers chose to take away her strength as a teenager with Down Syndrome in order to martyrize Sue. Even just from a critical angle, this was just plain bad retconning; we've learned that Becky knows right from wrong (and when she does choose the "wrong" thing, it's about her choosing to defy what's expected of her). More importantly, Glee has actually taken some strides to try to destigmatize her condition, and this pulled the rug out from under that.
The Teary-Eyed Confessionals
I can almost even get past the exploitation of school shootings because, sadly, it has become part of our culture -- it even made sense that the gang would know exactly what to do after hearing gunshots, thanks to lockdown drills -- and the firearms/gun control debate is topical and relevant, but having the Glee kids record goodbye messages to their families/Twitter was emotionally manipulative, obnoxious and made me hate the characters infinitely more. I will say, though, the acting was better than I would have expected, so at least there's that.
The Annoying Teenagers
Sometimes I forget that this show is about a bunch of high school kids since all of the actors are in their 20's and 30's, but "Shooting Star" was a great reminder, given that after the gun shot went off and the kids were supposed to be silent in order to avoid getting themselves and everyone around them murdered, they were instead the most selfish, senseless and obnoxious frustrating little shits ever. It upset me most that Sam was the worst of them all (yes, even more than Marley), given that Trouty Mouth is one of the only consistently good characters anymore. To the writers' credit, Brittany was actually a conscious human being and hid from the supposed shooter in a clever way, rather than, I don't know, finding and having semi-consensual sex with the then-unknown gun(wo)man, as is often the referenced Brittany protocol.
Beiste Loves Will
What the hell? Does the writing team just sit around and go through every permutation of characters to ship, and then try it out with the end goal having the selfless dude teach the girl -- or if it's two guys, the straight guy teach the gay guy -- why she/he doesn't actually have feelings for him? I would so prefer to see Dot Jones on Ryan Murphy's The New Normal, where grown women are at least allowed to make their own damn decisions once in a while. Also: Will is the worst (you know, next to Beiste's abusive ex-husband, whose storyline they also desecrated) and Beiste is way too good for him, obviously.
This episode made me realize how fine I would be if the series really did leave Lima and instead focused on New York City, since those storylines are way more dynamic and far less repetitive at this point. I didn't particularly miss Rachel or Kurt last night, but as far as I'm concerned, an episode without Santana is an hour wasted, even if it did include a girlfriend for Lord Tubbington.
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