Saturday, December 18, 2010
Tina Cohen-Chang: Sneaky Awesome
Today, ladies and gentle-readers, I'm here to talk about Tina Cohen-Chang. Because dammit, someone has to!
Yes, that was a not-so-subtle jab at this poor character's lack of screentime. But I'm sure I'll rant about that in a minute. Before I devote myself fully to that little bit of outrage, I'd like to first say:
How awesome is Tina Cohen-Chang? It struck me the other day, that within the context of the show, Tina might be the best character. As in, if I went to McKinley High, I'm pretty sure I'd wanna hang out with Tina. She was totally chill with Rachel stomping all over her West Side Story solo, and fully admitted her voice wasn't right for the song. She's gotten very few solos in general, and has never made a stink about who sang what. If I recall correctly, she hasn't been too awful to Rachel Berry (correct me if I'm wrong!) and she hasn't shown any hostility towards the football players or popular kids either.
She lays low, keeps her head down, and enjoys Glee for what it's given her. But - she doesn't let people walk over her. She broke up with Artie because he ultimately wasn't a good boyfriend to her, and gave him a piece of her mind when he told her he didn't like how she dressed. In fact, she's perhaps the true feminist on Glee - her rant about being a righteous blade of equality remains one of my favorite things on the show. She also has cornered the angle on a woman's healthy appreciation of sex, as seen in "Never Been Kissed."
But perhaps the thing that strikes me most about Tina Cohen-Chang is that she is the sole character who hasn't flipped out over popularity. Every other Glee club member - perhaps with the exception of Mike - has had a crisis of popularity: Puck dated Mercedes to get his status back. Quinn made the Glist, and blackmailed Santana to reclaim Head Cheerio. Finn has picked football over Glee countless times. Sam was initially hesitant to even join Glee, and Brittany and Santana only joined at first to spy for Sue. Rachel made the "Run Joey Run" video. Artie joined the football team, and Mercedes and Kurt joined the Cheerios. It seems like each character has had a crisis of identity and makes a desperate attempt to rehabilitate their image.
Tina, however, is the only character that has had a crisis of identity forced upon her: when Figgins told her she was not allowed to dress in her style. And rather than trying to adjust her image and be something she's not, she instead blackmailed her high school principal into letting her be herself.
Can I get a round of applause for Tina Cohen-Chang? Seriously. Way to be way more awesome than your peers, at least in that respect.
Of course, all this awesomeness can probably be attributed the fact that the writers have paid very little attention to Tina's character, despite the fact that she was one of the original Glee members. The second the writers give her a storyline, she'll probably act like a crazypants, and all this awesomeness might go straight out the window.
This does not diminish my wish for a Tina storyline, however - especially one independent of her relationships with Artie and Mike. The glimpses we've seen of her are interesting - I'm particularly intrigued by the fact that she was the first character to start crying in two similar instances: when Bryan Ryan threatened to ruin their dreams, and when Glee club was in danger of being absolved at the end of Season 1. I love the brief bit of character continuity there (!) and it makes me want to know more about Tina. She's definitely not the first character I would have predicted to burst into tears, but I love that she is.
I also love that she sings a lot of the closing "Kumbaya"-type songs at the ends of episodes, particularly her participation in "True Colors," "One of Us," and "Dog Days Are Over." Which leads me to my next bit: there are three Broadway performers in this cast. Jenna Ushkowitz is one of them. Why the HELL has she not had more solos? I mean, really. There's little excuse for both this and the character's lack of screentime. I used to be far more lenient about unbalanced storylines in Season 1 - it was still early, and I figured we'd get to more secondary characters soon enough. But guess what, guys. It's Season 2. We have had 32 episodes to get to know Tina Cohen-Chang, and the fact that we still really haven't is just a shame.
I'm also a bit tired of the bullshit excuse that storylines aren't distributed equally because the quality of acting amongst the cast is not equal. I'll be upfront: I usually see this argument in reference to Chris Colfer being heads-and-shoulders above everyone else in acting skill. Now, let me get this straight: I do not, by any means, deny Chris Colfer's acting abilities. His performances, comedic, dramatic, and musical, are all astounding. He's a genius, and anyone who doesn't think so should probably have their eyes checked.
But he's not a black hole, guys. His talent, nor anyone else's, does not suck up all the other cast's talents. They still exist, and can co-exist - having a Kurt-centric story does not mean other characters cannot be developed simultaneously! Each of the cast members is at least capable of carrying their own storylines. In fact, I've found Jenna Ushkowitz herself to have a particular knack for comedy. She's 3 for 3 on comedic rants - one to Artie on her righteous blade of equality, one to Figgins about Asian vampires, and one to Mike about chicken feet. You really can't go wrong giving a rant to the Ush. (Yes, I'm giving her a nickname. Deal with it!)
In short: Tina Cohen-Chang is awesome, as is the lady who plays her, and sometimes we, as well as the writers, need a little reminding. Here's hoping for more Tina in future episodes, yes yes!