I've been a big fan of "Glee" on Fox since the pilot was a huge hit back in the Spring. Gus and I have been keeping up with the series via my new trusty DVR and I'm starting to realize and get very annoyed by something on the show.
I mean, is it me, or are most of the women on "Glee" usually heinous bitches?
Someone, please tell me I'm not going crazy. I really like the show in theory and loved the pilot. I was a musical theater nut for most of growing up. It wasn't until college, where I didn't really fit in with the weird theater kids, that I stopped doing shows myself. (For anyone wondering, I just found a group of other weird kids that I gelled with better).
And, for the record, I do still like the show and some of the characters that at one point or another have been in my opinion - ridiculously bitchy (like Rachel).
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Let's take a close look at these characters... I can't help but think after pulling this all together that there's something a bit insanely sexist about the way women are being portrayed every Wednesday on Fox these days.
WHO, AT SOME POINT IN THE SHOW, HAS BEEN A TOTAL HEINOUS BITCH?
Hmm, so that was helpful. Let's go to the charts for a closer, more mathematical look at the ridiculousness.
Below, you'll find a graph using all of the main characters plus the following supporting characters - Terri's sister Kendra, Kristin Chenoweth's Guest Starring Role, Jacob Ben Israel (the Blogger Jewish kid), Sandy Ryerson (the former Glee Club teacher), and Mike O'Malley in the role of Kurt's dad. They are ranked men vs. women on a scale of 'Evil to Saintly' regarding their standard portrayal. I've laid out my reasoning for each character after the graphs if you'd care to look it over first.
Pretty ridiculous, eh? Looking at this, the ratio of bitches to evil guys is 2:1!! Moreover, check out the Saintly ratio. I'm going to nickname this category the "Can't-do-no-wrong" Great Guy group. The ratio of deep-down good guys to deep down-good girls is 5:1! Yeesh.
Well, what if you just look at the main characters and leave those fringe/outrageous ones out?
There's 14 total main characters by my count. The women are: Rachel Barry, Quinn, Terri (Will's wife), Sue Sylvester, Emma, Mercedes, and Tina. The men are: Will, Finn, Puck (Finn's 'friend'), Kurt, Artie (Wheelchair kid), Ken Tanaka (the coach), and Principal Figgins.
The numbers should lay out differently right? OH yeah they do - check this out -
Yes you read that right - looking at the characters that are regularly featured, the evil women to evil men ratio becomes 4:1! And the Saintly ratio is off the charts again.
Ugh, how did we get to this point? Here's my reasoning behind the rankings and why I think 1) this is happening and 2) why this needs to be addressed in some way on the series.
Women - Tina and Mercedes
While Mercedes has had her moments of stubborness and diva-tude, she's never really done much on the show other than be comic relief. Tina had a brief moment of slutiness with slapping her thighs to her Glee audition of Katy Perry's I Kissed a Girl, but since then she's been sweet and nice and we've felt for her - especially when Rachel wanted her solo. Tina could even be in the Saintly category but for now- I really think only Emma belongs there.
Men - Principal Figgins
He's a little unorthodox but not all that harmful as the school's principals. He sides with both Will and Sue at seperate points and there isn't much craziness that he's actually a part of - aside from that airline commercial that really, let's be honest, isn't all that bad.
Women - EMMA
Geez, I know they gave her a flaw with her OCD, and I think some might argue it's a little slutty that she's going after Will when he's married. But c'mon, she's doe-eyed for gosh sakes.
Men - Will, Finn, Kurt, Artie, Ken Tanaka, and Mike O'Malley as Kurt's Dad
Will, they've tried to make him flawed but really, Will's always a super nice good guy. He flirts with Emma but hasn't done anything physical, he has made a lot of effort with Terri, he's advising Finn, etc. Finn, okay he did kiss Rachel/cheat on Quinn, but of course it was portrayed in a pretty innocent way and we feel sympathetic towards him as Quinn is lying to him about their child. Finn's also lovably stupid and again, deep down you know he's a good guy. Kurt - I love Kurt as much as anyone else, some may argue that he's sassy to the point that he can't be sainty - I disagree. He hasn't really done anything except stand up for himself and I'd say he's been pretty rewarded at this point for doing so (especially in the episode with his dad).
Artie would be neutral but they've made him lovable and sympathetic through his association with the wheel chair. Ken's not perfect but it's pretty clear that his love for Emma is nearly unconditionable and again- deep down, he's a good guy and Emma's plan Z for her life. Finally, you've got Mike Myers, who on the surface is the macho dad afraid to have a gay son but in the end, you come to find out - you guessed it- he's a good guy!
Women - Rachel, Quinn, Terri, Sue Sylvester, Terri's sister Kendra, and Kristin Chenoweth's Guest Character
SLUTTY/LYING/CHEATERS - Quinn (w/Puck), Rachel (w/Finn)
SELF-OBSESSED - Rachel (again)
MANIPULATIVE/DECEITFUL - Terri, Terri's sister Kendra
SLUTTY/DRUNK - Kristin Chenoweth's character
MANIPULATIVE/DECEITFUL/PURE EVIL/ASEXUAL - Sue Sylvester
Men - Puck, Sandy Ryerson (Former Glee Coach), Jacob Ben Israel (Blogger Jewish kid)
SLUTTY/LYING/DISLOYAL/CHEATER - Puck
PERVERTED/CRIMINAL/SELF-OBSESSED/MANIPULATIVE - Sandy Ryerson
PERVERTED/MANIPULATIVE - Jacob Ben Israel
So if you'll agree there's a heavy weight being placed on these female characters, why is this happening?
I think the answer might be due to 2 things - the fact that the show was created by three guys (Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan) and continues to be run by Murphy AND dare I say it... poor character writing.
Can anyone tell me what Quinn's motivation for this week's song was about? Why did Rachel break into a devastating ballad of "Take a Bow" portrayed as a betrayal by Finn being with Quinn - when she was the other woman and they had only shared ONE kiss? Poorly written characters - plain and simple.
Does equality for women really mean that the characters on a tv show should lay out equally evil or equally saintly? No, absolutely not. But when week after week, it's the women who are the sluts and the men who are redeemable good ol shlubs stuck in the middle - that can be pretty out of sync not only with sexism but really - with good writing. Lately, the women have become shingles to hang all the issues of the show on. Need to make something interesting? Have one of the women be a slut! Have them lie! Have them try to buy a freaking child and deceive their own husband via an ultrasound! I'm all for drama and comedy and the over-the-topness, but I'd love to see more flaws on the men's side. How bout it, Ryan Murphy?
Note: I do not expect everyone to agree with me and know that there are counter-arguments. I'm just enjoying finally getting this nagging element of the series of my chest! Woo.