Deconstruction or Reconstruction?
Fox introduced a TV show called Glee in 2009 to showcase the typical high school experience with a little twist. Every week there is a new theme the show tries to tackle and focus that is a prominent social issue such as “self acceptance” or “sexuality”. It was intended for youth audiences but has grown to be loved by all ages. It is a show on television that we as Americans have never had or experienced before. It is in your face about social issues that need to be confronted immediately and doesn’t seem to shy away from anything. It conveys messages and helps shape peoples’ opinions on stereotypes and the characteristics that are associated with these stereotypes. By portraying reality through typical high school students lives, Glee tries to construct social realities in American life by focusing on gender, sexuality, and culture.
In Season 3 Episode 5: The First Time, Glee focuses on sexuality and having sex for the first time. It follows a straight couple, Finn and Rachel, and a gay male couple, Kurt and Blaine, on their journey to lose their virginity. Most Americans are used to seeing intimate scenes between straight couples, but not gay high school age boys. The straight couple plans their special night at home, while the gay couple has to sneak off into their car for fear of getting caught and being scared of their parents because this is still not socially acceptable to them. In this situation, the straight couple experience is privileged while the gay male couple is excluded because of their sexual preferences. However, Glee shows more intimate time between the gay couple rather than the straight couple, because this is something the show likes to do to open up viewers eyes to a new reality. The audience assumes that the straight couple will be left alone while the gay couple will get caught because it is “wrong”, when in reality the gay couple ends up getting in a fight because one of the guys is scared and doesn’t want to go through with it. This reinforces the stereotype of homophobia being socially acceptable and that people think that being gay is wrong. So even though Glee is trying to break the mold by showing male/male intimacy, it still ends up reinforcing the stereotype against gay couples being equal to straight couples in the end. On the other hand, in Further off the Straight and Narrow it showed how television and society as a whole is becoming more accepting of gay characters and intimacy in television. Throughout the season Glee also includes a lesbian couple, Asian couple, and a black male transgender to showcase most social realities in America today.
In Season 4 Episode 1: The New Rachel we are introduced to the shows first ever transgender character and probably one of the first ever on television, Unique, which is the focus of the social reality of gender in America. Unique is a black male who identifies as a woman, and transfers schools to sing with the Glee Club. Not only is Unique a male transgender, but a black male transgender which seems to put him/her against all odds of acceptance in this world. Transgender people are not widely accepted right now because this is something most people in America don’t understand or know anything about. Glee tries to bring to light the hardships of what someone who is transgender struggles with on a daily basis to try and enlighten the audience. In this episode, Unique confides in Kurt (a gay character) that he is transgender and just wants to be able to wear dresses and dance on stage. Kurt is confused by this even though he is gay because he does not fully understand Unique or what transgender is. Unique then explains to him that he is a male on the outside but feels like a female on the inside, which is coincidentally teaching the audience at the same time what the meaning of being transgender is and showing how people don’t understand them.
On another note about gender, in Season 1 Episode 8: Mash Up...
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