What I love about GLEE:
The songs. Specifically, how well the actors portray the emotions in the songs they’re singing. As a long-time musicals fan, I can’t get enough of emotionally charged ballads, anger-filled rock numbers, or bizarre musical dance numbers. The “glee” in Glee Club makes me want to sing.
Occasionally, GLEE is also very funny in a subversive sort of way, although never as much as it was in its pilot. I kind of feel like I was tricked into watching the show — thinking it would toy with tropes far more than it does. Also, the actors are all good, and like many people, I have a weakness for Jane Lynch.
What I hate about GLEE:
Everything else. GLEE tries to tackle issues of race, sexuality, gender, class, disablism, teen pregnancy, etc… and fails on almost every attempt. While I applaud them for wanting to say Important Things, they need to do better research. I can’t even watch the episodes where they focus on Artie in his wheelchair or Sue Sylvester’s sister with Down Syndrome. These episodes are beyond horrible. I frequently find myself muting the television or fast-forwarding through scenes too painful to watch.
The fact that this show is winning awards for the way they handle these issues only proves how out of touch most TV people are. I wish they’d embrace the carefree spirit of the show’s premise, amp up the unexpected and refreshing humor, and leave the Messages to shows that can put the necessary research time into handling them well.
What I love about HUGE:
Everything. HUGE is the story of high-school-aged kids at “fat camp,” and in the process of telling their stories, the show addresses issues of race, sexuality, gender, class, disablism, and more. The cast is mostly diverse (although there are no Asian cast members, as far as I can tell), and I do not see a single stereotype. Of anything. Anywhere. There is an honesty to this show and its writing that I have found almost nowhere else on television. There are no villains, no heroes, no characters without flaws and pasts and goals and failures. It’s a quiet show, to be sure, and probably not for everyone. But boy, do I wish everyone would watch it anyway.
What I hate about HUGE:
Nothing. Except maybe that there are no spaceships and magical creatures, because I think every story is better with them.
HUGE wins in a landslide! No, there are no musical numbers except for an occasional honest song sung by teenagers discovering the power of self-expression. There aren’t lectures about being gay, there are just characters being gay, and struggling to figure out what that means for themselves and others. There are characters in wheelchairs not because the episode is about disablism, but because some people have wheelchairs.
I’m going to keep watching GLEE because I love the songs, but I really wish the writers, producers, and directors on GLEE would start watching HUGE. They have so, so much to learn.