The Fox television series “Glee” is often touted as one of the most inclusive and diverse television shows on the air right now, when that is not true at all. Even though it’s regarded as advancing the LGBT cause, the show actually reinforces gay and lesbian stereotypes, which is only exacerbated by its reputation of being diverse.
The main same-sex relationship the writers focus on for a disproportionately large chunk of “Glee’s” episodes is between Kurt Hummel and Blaine Anderson, and both characters each hold to a different gay stereotype.
Kurt is more feminine than most, if not all, of the female characters; some of his female friends even take him into the women’s bathroom to clean him up after having a slushie dumped on him. He is also obsessed with fashion, demonstrated by dressing in a very flashy and stereotypically gay manner. In fact, the writers go one step further and have Kurt’s career goal change to becoming a fashion designer. He is the only “Glee” character, male or female, with this kind of love for fashion.
While Kurt’s boyfriend, Blaine, is not nearly as stereotypically gay as Kurt is, he still sticks to one very derogatory stereotype: He is the only recurring character who has gone to an all-boy’s school. To the audience’s knowledge, every other boy from that school is not gay, save for Blaine. He is designed to be a stereotype of someone who attends an all-boy’s school.
Perhaps the worst stereotype is how Kurt and Blaine’s relationship came to fruition. Blaine is the first openly gay guy Kurt has ever met and the two end up getting together and confessing their love for each other by the end of that school year.
Imagine if a man who had never seen a woman before fell in love with the first woman he ever met, and she reciprocated his feelings. It’s a completely absurd scenario. This kind of situation is completely unrealistic when applied to a heterosexual couple, yet seems to be perfectly acceptable when applied to a homosexual couple.
What makes “Glee’s” stereotypes different from another show’s stereotypes, say, ABC’s “Modern Family,” is that “Glee’s” stated mission is to debunk those stereotypes, while “Modern Family” is making fun of the same stereotypes.
Every single character in “Modern Family” is a sitcom stereotype taken to its logical extreme; the bumbling father, the overbearing mother, the dumb daughter, the nerdy daughter, and the trouble-making son are all there - and that’s just in one of the three main families the show follows. Yes, the two gay characters are both blatant stereotypes, yet it works because both characters know they’re stereotypes, thus making them the only two self-aware characters in the entire cast.
“Modern Family” does not bill itself as a diverse show and the title actually reveals the show’s purpose. It is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek reflection of modern American families as if they were viewed through the filter of a network sitcom. Exaggeration is the most powerful tool of parody and, since family sitcoms tend to be filled with stereotypes to begin with, “Modern Family” just takes the logical route.
“Glee’s” main problem seems to be that it presents itself as one of the most all-inclusive current television shows and the writers think they can get away with crafting stereotypical characters because they’re protected by their show’s marketing. However, their ruse could be failing; ratings for “Glee” have dropped considerably between the third and fourth season premiers.
If Fox wants to nip the declining ratings in the bud, the network is going to need to give the current writers some incentive to step up their game, or just recruit an entirely new writing crew to try to reverse the damage.
These blatantly stereotypical characters are unacceptable in a modern television show, especially one that advocates acceptance of everyone, regardless of the demographic they belong to.
Nick can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org