In Glee’s ongoing mission to swallow large swaths of popular culture and extrude out the pink coils of chicken sludge they call “entertainment,” this week they did Rocky Horror Picture Show. “Don’t dream it, be it” Rocky Horror urges its viewers, and Glee got it half right. Here is a partial! incomplete! list of complaints:
- The show spent an entire season showing us in great detail how mysophobic Emma is, how devoted she is to staying within her bubble . But now, in the second season, she starts dating John Stamos’ Carl and her symptoms become more manageable. Finally! A vindication of pelvic massage for the treatment of hysteria! I mean, she’s a tightly-wound, virginal woman; of course the problem was her vagina, and OF COURSE the solution was Uncle Jesse’s dick.
- Early on in the episode Mike volunteers to play Dr. Frank-N-Furter, but a few scenes later he says his parents won’t allow him to play a “tranny.” Mercedes takes the role, delivering a show stopping version of “Sweet Transvestite,” but the word “transsexual” is replaced with “sensational.” For Glee, transpeople are punchlines, not anyone the show needs to actually fucking think about. While doing Rocky Horror Picture Show, a musical whose entire message is about accepting people’s sexuality and gender.
- Can we just cut our losses and rename this show Chord Overstreet in Tiny Gold Shorts? Clearly, he is fanservice and I don’t even care; that man has got some high speed DSLs. However, as much as I appreciated seeing his abs, I didn’t care for the oddly-specific diet regimen he blurts out before showing them or the comically small weight Artie was holding. Artie’s a paraplegic, pushing himself everywhere in his wheelchair, lifting himself in and out of it dozens of times a day, and THAT is the biggest weight he’s lifting? That weight is a clear signal to the audience that Artie doesn’t belong in the locker room and is only there to provide comic relief. And that is fucked.
- Then we come to the next bit of fanservice: Brittany and Santana. While I appreciate their including queer ladies in the series, having those queer ladies be high school cheerleaders is a little too on-the-nose. Although, I was really proud of them for working the phrase “scissoring” into last weeks episode. Nothing I like better than implied tribadism on a prime time television show. It moves the image away from sexy ladies fondling their sexy ladyparts while pining for a man, and towards actual, occurs-in-the-world lesbian sex.
- With all the build-up about Finn being concerned with his weight, his abdominals were pretty defined. Hopefully the show is moving towards an arc about eating disorders, but this episode is essentially about how hideous guys are when they aren’t fanatical about their diet and exercise, but even if they are, that’s no reason for them to stop hating their own body.
Glee has a nasty habit of removing the message from anything it covers, watering it down until it lacks all subtlety and nuance, and then just telling you what the entire episode was about at the end anyway. I actually felt insulted at the pat, “we’re all outcasts” spin they put on the complicated message of Rocky Horror Picture Show, especially after the trans erasure, the ableism, and the assorted fuckery going on in this episode. Like, yeah, a lot of these characters are outcasts. What the fuck are you doing to change any of that?