Top 10 Things on Glee That Wouldn't Work Today



Top 10 Things on Glee That Wouldn't Work Today

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Emily Blair
2009 feels so long go looking back at these things on "Glee" that wouldn't work today. Our countdown includes the biphobia, inappropriate relationships, Sue blackmails Figgins, and more!

Top 10 Things on Glee That Wouldn't Work Today

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things on Glee That Wouldn’t Work Today.

For this list, we’ll be looking at aspects of the musical comedy-drama that were problematic at the time, but would cause even more controversy and backlash if they had first aired today.

Which of these Glee moments has aged the worst? Tell us in the comments!

#10: How Figgins Describes Certain Students

On more than one occasion, Principal Figgins has made comments about the attractiveness of some of McKinley’s female students. He called Brittany ‘sexy’ and described Unique to Sue as “an attractive, buxom young woman”. No principal or teacher should ever be thinking of their students in that context. But especially in the wake of the recent Me Too movement, comments like these would never be tolerated. Add in the fact that Figgins was only attracted to Unique, so the writers could make a joke about him being shocked to find out she’s transgender and the whole scene feels incredibly creepy and offensive.

#9: The Biphobia

The LGBTQ+ representation on Glee was hit or miss, but in regards to bisexuality it was definitely a miss. When Blaine is questioning his sexuality due to a kiss he shared with Rachel, Kurt basically tells him bisexuality doesn’t exist. Later in the series, Santana says she is glad that her new girlfriend isn’t bi like Brittany so she doesn’t have to worry about her girlfriend leaving her for a man. This implies a harmful stereotype that bisexual people are promiscuous and unfaithful. Glee had a lot of young viewers of various sexual identities who all deserved to be represented in a respectful and non-stereotypical way, but it seems like the writers weren’t quite up to that challenge at the time.

#8: Inappropriate Relationships

There were plenty of other students that the young teenagers of Glee could’ve gotten involved with romantically; why did they ever have to get paired up with their teachers or any other adult authority figure? There was Puck and Shelby, Sam and the school nurse Penny as well as Rachel’s awkward flirting with Mr. Schue that went a little too far. Then there was April Rhodes, who was around the same age as Mr. Schue, and actively pursuing a relationship with multiple high school students. Even if some of the students were over 18, there is still an imbalance of power and maturity level in these kinds of relationships that makes them really inappropriate to put in a show targeted to an audience of teenagers.

#7: Making Fun of Britney’s Breakdown
“Britney 2.0”

Glee’s second Britney Spears tribute episode parodies Spears’ series of psychiatric breakdowns in 2007, with Glee’s Brittany attacking photographers with an umbrella and lazily lip syncing during a performance of “Gimme More”. This behavior was caused by Brittany getting kicked off the Cheerios, but the real Britney Spears had been dealing with serious mental health issues and challenges in her personal life. It wasn’t at all appropriate for Glee to highlight and mock an artist’s darkest and most vulnerable moments in what was supposed to be a tribute to her and her music. With the current #FreeBritney movement, people are very critical of how Spears’ mental health has been handled in the past and present, and an episode like this would not be well received.

#6: The Handling of Marley’s Eating Disorder

In season four, Marley develops an eating disorder, partially because of Kitty constantly body shaming her and even altering her costumes to trick her into thinking she’s gained weight. At one point, Ryder walks in on her purging, but instead of getting help, he tries to get her to stop by saying he doesn’t want to kiss a girl with puke on her breath. Later, Marley passes out at sectionals, and she feels so guilty she apologizes to everyone. When Marley finally does get help, she seems to recover unbelievably quickly and her eating disorder isn’t mentioned again. Overall the situation was handled very poorly and clumsily for how serious the issue they tried to address is.

#5: A Disabled Character Played by an Abled Actor

Glee clearly tried to make their characters as diverse a group as possible, but they could have worked harder to extend that diversity to the actors playing these characters as well. Artie was in a wheelchair for the entire series, but he was played by an abled actor, which took away the opportunity for a disabled actor to play the role. Sure, there were a few dream sequences in which Artie was able to get up and dance, but the exclusion of these dance numbers would have been worth it for the added authenticity that a disabled actor could have brought to the role. Kevin McHale is talented and plays the role well, but Artie’s casting likely would’ve caused more backlash today.

#4: Sue Blackmails Figgins

When Sue gets suspended from her position at McKinley, she decides that the best way to get back to work is to slip Principal Figgins a date rape drug so she can blackmail him with a photo of them in bed together. Of course, Sue is an antagonist on the show and isn’t supposed to be any sort of a role model, but this behavior was especially evil and vindictive for her. The scene feels like a joke at the expense of male sexual assault victims, who are constantly seeing their most traumatic experiences mocked and belittled in the media. Those kinds of jokes weren’t funny when this episode first aired, and they definitely wouldn’t be acceptable today.

#3: A Trans Character Being Played by a Cis Woman

In season six of Glee, Coach Beiste comes out as transgender and changes names from Shannon to Sheldon. Glee never had the best trans representation, judging by how often Unique was misgendered and singled out as a trans woman, but Beiste’s transition was even more problematic. It was a decision reportedly made late in the series and as such, contradicted the point of Beiste’s character originally being a woman that did not want or need to conform to traditionally feminine gender stereotypes. If they had intended for Sheldon to be a transgender character from the beginning, they also shouldn’t have cast a cisgender woman to play him, and instead should have given the opportunity to a trans actor.

#2: Sue’s Casual Racism & Homophobia

Sue had a lot of funny and clever insults on Glee, but they weren’t all so lighthearted and enjoyable. Sprinkled in between jokes about Will’s hair or the Glee club’s obsession with show tunes are insults based on the race or sexual orientation of whoever Sue’s target is at the moment. In other scenes, Sue is an outspoken advocate for minorities and stands up for those being genuinely mistreated. This makes these random insults based on race and sexuality feel especially bizarre and out of character. It’s clear that the writers were perfectly capable of giving Sue witty lines that didn’t target people for things out of their control, so the more offensive insults should have just been cut.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Mr. Schue Says Being in Glee Club Makes You a Minority, “Throwdown”

Mr. Schue Encourages Underage Students to Twerk, “The End of Twerk”

Rachel Being Shamed for Wanting to Do a Topless Scene, “Naked”

Sam Stripping as a Teenager, “Hold On to Sixteen”

#1: The Representation of Minorities

As previously mentioned, Glee really tried to create a diverse cast of characters for the series, but it often fell short in developing these characters in a non-stereotypical way. Mercedes became the sassy black woman who barely got a chance to shine unless she was belting out the last high note of a big group number. Mike and Tina obsessed over their grades to appease their Asian parents, and Santana was a hot-headed and hyper-sexualized Latina. All of these characters had to speak up for a chance at being in the spotlight, because the default for solos and lead roles was always one of the more well-developed white characters like Rachel or Finn. It’s unfortunate that Glee had so many opportunities for interesting and diverse characters that they didn’t take.