Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The RBI Report: "Choke"

This episode of Glee was upsetting, on so many levels.  It's bad enough that the main characters of "Choke" were subject to struggle, disappointment, and failure.  But on top of that, the episode was constructed on a disturbing foundation of misogyny that seeped into any sensitivity about domestic abuse and sent a disconcerting message about women, men, and the relationships they have amongst one another.

"Choke," written by Marti Noxon, and directed by Michael Uppendahl

Truthfully, we haven't had such an overtly misogynistic episode of Glee since the back-to-back crapfests of "Mash-Off" and "I Kissed a Girl."  And where "Choke" becomes even more distasteful is with the notion that it was designed to be an episode dealing with the hugely triggering topic of domestic abuse - against women specifically.  What are we supposed to think about an episode highlighting violence against women when the women in the episode were in turns mean, offensive, preached to, scolded, unempowered, victimized, and devastated by failure?  Meanwhile, over in Boyville, nary a word was whispered about domestic abuse - despite the fact that the episode specifically addressed all perpetrators of violence as men - as they banded together in their Noble Masculine Qualities of Courage and Camaraderie in an effort to help their fellow Man achieve his manly potential even despite his absent father.

Individually, the storylines for Rachel and Puck are not terribly problematic in terms of storytelling decisions.  Sure, they're sad.  But they both provided obstacles for the characters to overcome, which is a valid storytelling construct - and even though I saw Rachel's failure from six Tuesdays ago, Puck's failure was a great storytelling misdirect.  Beyond that, it makes a considerable amount of sense that Rachel could put too much pressure on herself and blow her audition.  It also makes sense that Puck wouldn't put any stock in his education until he sees his own deadbeat father as a cautionary tale.  (Although, in the first case, it'd be perhaps easier to swallow if the audition screw-up weren't "Don't Rain on My Parade," which Rachel performed on a minute's notice to complete perfection two years ago.  And in the second case, I kind of thought Puck already had ambitions with the specific construct that it was in direct and purposeful contrast to his abandoning father.  But whatever.)

Where the episode goes catastrophically wrong is in the execution of the stories individually, and in their marriage with the third: Shannon Beiste's inclusion as a women who is in the first romantic relationship of her entire life, and being physically abused.  With this incredibly grave story as the emotional weight of the episode, the choices for the rest of "Choke" become hugely important, and not unlike Rachel Berry and Noah Puckerman: the writers blew it.

In order to get their Very Special Episode about domestic violence, which for some reason was 100% necessary four episodes before graduation, it became equally as necessary, apparently, to drag five female characters through the mud.  Upon seeing Coach Beiste sporting a black eye, Santana mouthed off about her husband hitting her, and Sugar, Tina, Mercedes, and Brittany all snickered at the remark.  Sue and Roz overheard the joke, and immediately scolded the girls for their insensitivity.  And while I certainly don't disagree with the idea that domestic violence is nothing to be joked about, I question why this became a teaching moment for the young girls only, and why it was necessary to show them to be so callous and flippant about abuse.  While it's great that Sue and Roz put aside their differences to stand up for a common cause, and had all the right reactions to Shannon's scenario, the thrust of the storyline was built on the idea that the teenage girls just Didn't Get It.  They had to be sat down and Taught a Lesson.  And when the assignment was to sing a song of empowerment, they went straight to "Cell Block Tango" without any discussion, and got scolded for their continued poor choices.  Not only that, but Santana got saddled with another instance of Unfortunate Plot Device, wherein the writers use her however they please in others' storylines, regardless of established characterization, to make sure they get their point across.

Why was it that only these five girls were subjected to this week's lesson?  Why were the boys excluded from this when "Choke" communicated very singularly that women are subjected to abuse by their male significant others?  Y'know, it's fine for the girls to be naive about Shannon's situation, especially since they're supposed to be 18 and they probably don't pay that close attention to their teachers' home lives.  But it's not fine for them to be rude and then scolded, in conjunction with the boys being excused from the message completely because the writers chose not to give them any nasty dialogue.  And I'm not saying that the teenage boys needed to be held accountable for another man's actions - but they needed to be a part of the conversation.  How many young men are aware of the fear that most women carry with them every day - the fear of being physically or sexually harmed by a man?  Usually this applies more to violence from strangers than loved ones, but the point still stands.

But instead of a gender-inclusive discussion of domestic abuse, the education was doled out to the girls only, as if this is solely a "girl problem."  Sorry ladies, but this is something you might have to deal with!  It could happen to you!  And while that is sadly true, it's still not okay to leave the boys uneducated about the power dynamics between men and women, especially when the episode communicates that it's the boys who can become violent.  Wouldn't it have been better to use the scenario to highlight the internalized misogyny that snakes through both the infliction of domestic violence as well as how society chooses to educate about it?  Instead of assuming that all transgressors of abuse are men, why not acknowledge that domestic violence is not unilaterally defined by a male harming his female significant other?  For instance, where do Brittany and Santana, and Kurt and Blaine fit into this lesson, as same-sex couples?  And, in communicating the important information that yes, women are more likely to be physically harmed by a significant other than a man, why not ask the question of both sexes: why?  The answer paints a disturbing portrait of power, aggression, and misogyny that is crucial to understanding how society imparts its own damaging lessons about gender norms and equality.  But instead of exploring these areas, "Choke" just offered up another nasty example of its own internalized misogyny, and focused only on the insensitivity of the potential victims of it.  And if the response here is that the preferred explorations are "too serious" for Glee, then frankly that means that the topic of domestic violence is likewise too serious for this show.

It's bad enough that the men of the hour weren't involved in any discourse on domestic violence.  What makes it even worse is that the supplanting storyline was built entirely around a "bro-vention," wherein Finn and the guys rallied around Puck to help him pass a test.  This storyline, while sound for Puck conceptually, was riddled with example after example of expressions of masculinity that become offensive when paired with tonight's other fare.  For instance, it's communicated (twice!) that the guys have to help Puck because "no man gets left behind," an adoption of the noble attitude of male soldiers at war.  When they stand by him and help him study, he's grateful for their assistance, and tells them that each and every one of them have taught him how to be a man.  And of course, this discourse on masculinity happens, as it does on Glee, against the backdrop of an absent father figure.  Puck changes his mind when he's approached by his deadbeat dad begging him for money - it's enough to light the fire under his ass and get him focused on graduating and not being a loser.  And the writers even had the audacity to give Mr. Puckerman this line: "The hardest thing for a man to do is to ask for help."  Really?  Really?  Tell that to fucking Shannon Beiste two storylines over, who, as a woman, is not asking for help and remains, as a result, in a physically harmful relationship.

I'm not saying Puck's dad isn't allowed hardships, or pride.  But to attribute his difficulty asking for help as a strictly masculine problem and ignoring the fact that a woman on the show is struggling with a parallel difficulty in the exact same episode?  Party foul.  This incites the same kind of rage in me as the carousel of "what it means to be a man" storylines that Glee has had us on with four different male characters, while the only repeated message about its female characters seems to be that their relationships are one-dimensional or absent entirely.  It's also the same rage I have when Finn & Bro-Co. are portrayed as noble and well-intentioned, but Santana & Girl-Co. act like bitches in the first five minutes.  It's the same rage I have when every male character with an absent father also has, as a result, a working single mother who assumedly experienced no lack of struggle in raising their kids, and yet Glee shines no light on the role she had on her childrens' lives.  We don't see Puck's mom.  Carole hasn't been an active force in Finn's life since she started dating Burt.  And even Will's mom, in the one episode we saw her, is not taken seriously.  The message is that women can't teach boys about being "men" - only other men can do that, even if they're 17-year-olds.

Even with the episode's disconcerting structure, a few problems could be eradicated if there were simply no offensive joke from Santana right off the bat.  Surely there's another way to introduce the episode's "theme" without dragging a character through the mud so they can be yelled at?  The problem would be assuaged further with a redirection of "Cell Block Tango."  That musical number is legendary, and the fact that Glee repurposed it to be taken seriously, without any of its original context and tone, completely ruined it.  What should have been done instead is the idea that the glee ladies performed "Cell Block Tango" as a form of misguided encouragement for Shannon.  Roz even expressed the question: why not just fight back?  But it's easier said than done, and it makes sense that teenagers would give well-intentioned but ultimately off-the-mark advice that amounts to "if you hit him back, he had it coming."  This way, "Cell Block Tango" could still be used in the same basic construct, but with considerable less offense concerning the intent of the girls performing it.  With their naivet√©  played as the result of well-intentioned youth, the result would feel less like shaming young women about their ignorance of domestic violence and more like young women trying to be supportive in whatever way they know how.  It would also feel less like Sue Sylvester getting preachy about the topic when she's shoved a lady down a flight of stairs, onscreen, and has habitually pushed around students in the hallway.  (I prefer to count those moments as times when the writers did wrong by Sue Sylvester's characterization, though.)

I could go on and on about gender issues.  I could talk about how the boys rallied around Puck, but the girls didn't rally around Rachel.  I could talk about how the only people at Rachel's audition were Will, Kurt, Finn, and Blaine.  I could talk about how Puck's attempts to seduce a female teacher nearly worked (again!) because said teacher is "excruciatingly lonely" and so of course an older woman would shelve all logic and morals to have a chance with a student who got a girl pregnant his sophomore year.  I could talk about this moment in contrast with Shannon's, where she admits that she thinks no one else could love her except the man who's abusing her.  I could talk about how the writers gave Puck a song from My Fair Lady and reappropriated him to be a growl-rock version of Eliza Doolittle. 

But I'm tired of talking about all of Glee's gender issues.  It's upsetting that a show with such widespread popularity and self-purported "good messages" offers up such a flattened, insulting, and imbalanced portrayal of men and women.  Because I am a masochist, I have a post-it on my desk listing the show's most sexist episodes.  There are twelve titles written on it.

It's unfortunate, because there were several decisions in "Choke" that, when divorced from gender politics, were compelling under the basic lens of narrative interest.  When Puck received his "F," despite his attitude change and studying regime, it was enough to make me sit up and pay attention.  Really?  No reward for his hard work?  The choice felt almost like older Glee fare: an unexpected tragic outcome that resonates emotionally despite its simplicity.  This show was built on the idea that little things, to teenagers in Middle America, can feel like they carry the weight of the world.  With the right emotional circumstances and larger consequences, Glee was originally able to make theatrics and exaggerations incredibly significant - when they were scaled down to have meaning in the small, specific reality of a character's worldview.  Since then, theatrics have been rendered two-dimensional, and Glee has devolved into an orgy of melodrama, self-indulgence, and over-hype with fewer reflections below the surface.  But Puck's failure resonated with some of the show's original tone, made even more poignant with the idea that none of us were expecting it.

Rachel's failure, however, was far more predictable.  She spent the episode gearing herself up for her NYADA audition, armed with her heretofore flaw-free rendition of "Don't Rain on my Parade," and the confidence that it's now her time to shine.  This was Rachel Berry in classic form, as her dreams finally resurfaced in the narrative in their original incarnation, and not as mere plans she might give up should her high school romance demand it.  We even got original Rachel Berry monologues, and the classic construct of Rachel staring herself down in the mirror - negotiating her identity with her future at stake.  What could go wrong?  She's been preparing for this moment her whole life.  But "Choke" presented a conflict of ideology in Rachel and Kurt.  Is it better to take a risk, or play it safe?  Rachel insisted that this was not the time for risk-taking, while Kurt wants to break out of the box.  But with Rachel's pressure, he sticks with his more typical rendition of "Music of the Night," instead of his apparently wild idea to perform "Not the Boy Next Door."  That is, of course, until he's on stage and sees Carmen Thibedeaux's tight-lipped reaction to his song selection.  So, naturally, it's breakaway Phantom clothes, standby gold pants, and back-up back-up in Brittany, Tina, and Mercedes.  (It's nice to see they're recycling their Regionals outfits from two years ago!)

Kurt, of course, is rewarded for his risk, and receives high praise for his somewhat impromptu performance.  But Rachel sticks to her guns, and royally screws up.  She somehow flubs "Don't Rain on my Parade" not once but twice, and is shut down completely by Carmen.  Cue the most heartbreaking thing to witness: Rachel Berry begging, with tears in her eyes, for another chance.  Of course, she doesn't get it, and for the first time in her life, it seems like her future hopes are completely dashed.  Now, I don't mind in theory the idea that Rachel would experience some sort of failure on her journey to Broadway.  It's realistic, and provides her with something to triumph over.  However, I find the message here interesting.  She goes with her gut, and fails.  This, of course, plays in contrast to Kurt, who goes with his gut, and succeeds.  I almost wonder if it would have been better for Rachel to switch songs as Kurt did, before ultimately tripping up - thereby reinforcing the notion that Rachel's success is also contingent upon her instincts.  Because how many times has Rachel Berry been rejected for being exactly who she is?  I'm not fussed about Rachel failing; I'm fussed about Rachel receiving the message that she's not enough, or that her core traits are not valued, no matter how many times she recites mantras in the mirror.  But if Rachel had switched songs, it would have been more indication of her character devolution through the seasons, and I can't decide which is a worse: a classic and unchanging Rachel Berry that is tragically stuck in the same conflict, or a new-and-improved Rachel Berry who gives up her identity for what she thinks others want from her.  

In the end, it wasn't so much that Puck and Rachel failed, or that Shannon chose to give Cooter another chance despite having told everyone that she had moved in with her sister.  These individual choices, while tragic and upsetting, can be made valid by storytelling construction - and to a certain degree, were.  All three were tragic heroes at the helm of their own stories, and the cross-cutting in "Shake it Out" and "Cry" with the reveals about Puck and Shannon were incredibly powerful and emotionally resonant.  However, when combining these storylines, the Glee writers somehow came up with "Choke": an episode intended to deal with domestic violence, but instead revealed the misogyny inherent in their own structure, all wrapped up with a title that's either a nauseating attempt to be clever, or a disturbing piece of insight as to how little these writers think about their choices.

The RBI Report Card...
Musical Numbers: B+
Dance Numbers: B+
Dialogue: C
Plot: D
Characterization: C
Episode MVP: Shannon Beiste

29 comments:

  1. Amazing analysis. Bookmarking for future reference.

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  2. Glee used to turn traditional idea of masculinity and femininity on their heads. Now it just perpetuates stereotypes in the worst way.

    Instead of this domestic abuse bullshit, a much more powerful, unconventional, and inspiring message would have been to see Beiste, Puck's football coach, and a woman, be the one to step up and help him as a surrogate "dad." Send the message that a guy like Puck (who has very heteronormative views) can look up to a strong female mentor.

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    1. You have no idea how much I've wanted a Puck with Beiste as his mentor/confidant, like in the way Finn is with Will (minus the creepy way Will tries to live through Finn). I was hoping for that ever since S2 when Puck walked into the locker rooms and asked Beiste if she was crying.

      However, Glee only gives attention to characters that aren't spotlighted every episode (like Puck) once in a blue moon and usually screw them up in the process. So, sadly, Puck (and viewers) gets robbed of any sort of mentor or any sort of insight into his home life with his single mother (and sister, which Glee also forgets to mention).

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  3. I felt like Rachel failed not because she went with her gut, but because she watched Kurt take a risk and succeed despite her concerns; and felt in the last minute that she should have done the same. Hence, she panicked.

    I agree with all else, though.

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  4. I'm in utter agreement with all of this. Though I understand it's painful, I'd be interested to hear you go even further "on and on" about the gender issues in this episode - what does it say that Sue's reproductive choices are *still* only brought up as the butt of a joke? Why are Puck's struggles (when he doesn't seem to give a damn about his education) placed on the same level as Rachel's (when we're explicitly shown the years of hard work she's put into achieving her dreams)? And, seriously, why was Rachel narratively rewarded (with an engagement, Finn choosing to move to NYC, ect) when she acted like the Stepford wife of the past several episodes, but she's immediately punished when she returns to following her own dreams?

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    1. I don't see the issue with the Puck/Rachel thing. Puck's late-blooming desire to graduate is as valid to him as Rachel's desire for higher education is to her. That's very true to life, at least.

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    2. I'd agree if they showed him putting the least bit of effort into actually achiveing his desire to graduate (outside of creepy-as-fuck teacher seduction). By contrast, we're showed Rachel's work ethic time and again, not in the least in the opening sequence of this episode. Like Finn, who just decided to go to acting school and *poof, admission!*, Puck feels entitled to his success; hard work is for dummies like Rachel and Kurt.

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  5. It's the same rage I have when every male character with an absent father also has, as a result, a working single mother who assumedly experienced no lack of struggle in raising their kids, and yet Glee shines no light on the role she had on her childrens' lives. We don't see Puck's mom. Carole hasn't been an active force in Finn's life since she started dating Burt. And even Will's mom, in the one episode we saw her, is not taken seriously. The message is that women can't teach boys about being "men" - only other men can do that, even if they're 17-year-olds.

    That's not strictly true. One of Finn's umpteen "you showed me how to be a man" speeches (seriously, is there anyone he hasn't told that to by now? It was moving when he said it to Will in Journey but it's lost any meaning it might have add through use) was at the wedding, about how Carole had shown him more about how to be a man than anyone else.

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  6. This episode was bloody awful. The more I think about it, the worse it gets. It's way down there with Grilled Cheezus and I Kissed a Girl.

    I don't mind it when a show does an "issue", but it needs to spring naturally from the characters and plot, not be wedged into a series already swimming in unresolved plot threads shortly before the end of the season. And it needs followup too; Glee has the infuriating tendency to drop these stories once the episode is done. Hey, I wonder how Karofsky's doing? His story seemed nowhere near resolved, but it's looking like we'll never find out.

    You've covered the sexism problems really well and I don't think I can add anything. I will say that the sole redeeming feature of the Beiste storyline was that it wasn't nicely wrapped up by the end of the episode, but again, that's only a good thing if we're guaranteed followup, which I wouldn't bet on at this stage.

    Glee's writers are very good at certain very specific things, and it's mostly the sillier stuff, like comedic rants and one-liners. They cannot write serious dialogue, character arcs... hell, they can't seem to write stories in general. They're atrociously bad at communicating ideas through dialogue, and end up unintentionally making characters appear selfish and hypocritical when I'm not convinced that was ever the intention. Artie telling Quinn to accept the fact she may not walk again in Big Brother, most of the pro-religion lot towards Kurt in Grilled Cheezus, Quinn and Kurt on gay bullying in On My Way... all of these people seemed to be intended to represent rational viewpoints, but because of bad dialogue or the way the episode was written, they came off like assholes.

    I can't fault the actors: Dot Marie Jones is excellent and the cast in general are very good (with the exception of the unlovable monotone child playing Rory, and possibly Cory Monteith - I still haven't figured out if he's doing that thing with his face deliberately or not). But they can only do so much with such dire scripts.

    My problem with the Puck storyline was that it was another case of Finn the Hero, in which the gurning one forces himself into someone else's story to be their savior. I know that Finn and Puck are supposed to have this amazing friendship that we never see, but it doesn't ring true: for the most part, Finn's treated Puck like crap. Honestly, I'd have bought this whole thing way more if the assistance were coming from, say, Artie. Him and Puck used to be friends, right? Back in Season 2, remember? Artie, as someone who actually has some direction in his life, seems like a more likely choice to hassle Puck about graduating. And if Artie had taken charge, it might have freed Finn up to, I don't know, comfort his fiancee after her devastating audition, perhaps. Seriously, what the hell was he doing there? Every other person in that room - Puck possibly included - was smarter than him. What was he contributing? This is the kind of genius who got a Vegan Jew a pig for Christmas.

    The one part of this episode that rose from the awfulness to the point of actually being quite good was Whoopi Goldberg as Terrifying NYADA Lady. My wife - a musician who's been in the position of auditioning in front of such people - thought the whole thing rang very true. Rachel's screwup and NYADALady's firm, measured response was genuinely uncomfortable to watch... and unlike the rest of this episode, I think that was the intention.

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  7. Rachel's storyline completely broke my heart. I know that failing her audition will turn into a Very Important lesson for Rachel about rejection in this industry. And that's a valuable lesson. But I loathe how her failure resulted from Rachel being the most Rachel-Berry-esque she's been since Season 1. I loathe how Kurt's gut instincts are rewarded, while Rachel's fail. Especially considering that her instincts have saved New Directions several times (Season 1 Sectionals and Season 2 Regionals, for starters). AND it just had to be "Don't Rain On My Parade," the Rachel Berry anthem. It just irritates the hell out of me that Rachel is more rewarded in the narrative when she suppresses her natural self, and then destroyed when she's true to herself. It sets up a murky dynamic: do we root for Rachel to be true to herself (which gets her shut down by the narrative), or do we root for the "Stepfordization" of Rachel (that gets her rewarded)? I want Rachel to grow as a character, and I don't want to imply that Rachel was perfect in Season 1. But I hate seeing her dull her shine because that's the only way she succeeds as of late.

    As far as the domestic violence storyline goes, I was really confused by the lack of conversation between our Glee girls. Because I love how the storyline wanted to incorporate the young adult perspective of domestic violence, and there are tons of examples from young adults to use (using rape as a descriptor in video games, the culturally relevant example of Chris Brown and Rihanna, etc.). But what's the point of thrusting these girls into the storyline if they totally lack agency or insight? For example, we didn't get to see why the girls thought "Cell Block Tango" was appropriate, so we just got 5 minutes of Sue and Roz chastising them. But without seeing their intentions, how can we even gauge how misguided the Glee girls are? It just turned into a situation where the girls need to stop making domestic abuse jokes because it's wrong, rather than dissecting where their mindsets came from.

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    1. Wait yea, why didn't they use 'Stupid Love' by Rihanna or one of the songs she wrote about the the Chris Brown issue, they also could have used the parallel of Rihanna going back to CB as a way to address how Beiste went back as well. Ugh. they had so many opportunities here.

      I do hate that they did it at all though, took an awesome strong character and screwed her over, why can't she be happy.... come on writers.

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  8. I wholeheartedly agree with you report. Another thing that bothered me though was how seriously they took Puck's struggles and although Beiste had quite a few scenes, in EVERY one of them, there was at least one out of taste joke about her size. Can't they have a serious scene about serious issues without them mocking her size? Particularly when she said she couldn't leave because she doesn't think anyone else would ever love her. At that point it'd be a good opportunity to buoy her spirits and console her rather than attacking her physical appearance.

    What worried me the most about the episode was that I didn't actually mind it as I've taken this new approach to let it flow over me and not over-think the episodes. It was only when I decided at the end of the episode to do a quick review that a few of the sentences that irked me while watching ended up becoming full sized rants about inequality, that I realised how bad the episode was. I worry about the messages some of these episodes send out subconsciously to the other teenagers watching Glee.

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  9. Well, I think it's not like that, maybe a ‘classic Rachel Berry’ that doesn’t need to be ‘tragically stuck in the same conflict’ anymore? She failed not because of who she is, but because she got nervous and messed up. She’s been rejected before, yeah, but not because she messed up. Even Rachel Berry can get nervous. But the way she handled it was the important part to me. She was very mature, supporting Kurt and Finn, despite failling herself. It’s growth. They were there for her too and reassured Rachel’s good the way she is, it is another difference, they didn't called her on the 'rachel crazy' and she was being very 'rachel crazy' in this this episode.

    Now she can in fact ‘improve’, but doesn’t mean she will ‘give up her identity for what she thinks others want from her’, but that she knows, for real, what’s like to have ups and downs. Outside their 'fighting for solos glee dramas', she experienced her very best and her very worst with that song, her identity song, as you call, and in the first time she was actually performing 'on the fly', cause Mercedes couldn’t, it was never the actual plan. She was taking a chance, not playing safe (I’ve always seen her character as someone who takes chances more than someone who is focused in just one thing).

    Rachel has an incredible amount of confidence but it takes just a little to make her freak out, and when the lady said that Kurt did right on taking a risk, she got nervous about her safe choice. Now she's aware that nothing it’s really guaranteed for her even if she is, you know Rache Berry. And she reacted well, I think. She messed up her audition, she made a mistake, and she acknowledges that there's no one to blame but herself. She have to get over it.

    And maybe what happened will make her grown more confident in her own instincts, like you said, now she can go beyond her safe DROMP. She won't stay in the comfort zone. And The fact that she probably won't give up make her stronger in my eyes. And don’t think she will give up.

    I didn’t like the episode at all, the Beistie thing was awful, and I agree with you about it, but Rachel’s part was the only part that I was ok with. And I like her character a lot; it broke my heart to see her choke.

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  10. I agree with everything, but I have one criticism to add.

    Where was Quinn?

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  11. I actually liked this episode. I liked that it brought back Glee's original innate saddness that not everything turns out the way you want it (Puck failing despite his efforts, which can be relatable) (and I'm sure Rachel will get into NYADA) and I thought for Glee, the domestic violence was handled pretty well. It obviously wasn't perfect but for Glee who was so tasteless with how they handled teenage outing and just plain condescending with gay suicide, this was pretty damn good. I also don't see why its such a horrible thing for the men to not be involved in Bieste story line. Probably for the best as likely one of the men would "fix" Bieste problems for her instead of giving her support like Sue and Roth and the girls did.

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  12. I think it's pretty clear. Glee's writers don't give a shit about their characters. Except for Finn. Finn is apparently Jesus incarnate, here to save everyone from their sins. Honestly, I find myself going into each episode with zero expectations. In fact, if an episode manages to somehow NOT offend me (and I am not one to be easily offended, I'm the ignore you, water off my back type by default) I consider it a success. How depressing is that.

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  13. Every episode since season one has seen Finn either complain about his 'struggles' (when other character have it MUCH worse) or become the superhero and fix everything not ten minutes before the episode is over. This episode was no different. Captain Finn to the not-so-necessary rescue!

    Also something that's really bugging me- why is no one helping Brittany pass? Everyone falls over themselves to help 'I don't give a shit' Puckerman, and completely overlooks Brittany. She's senior class president and is even told by her teachers that she'd have a better chance of passing if SHE DIDN'T SHOW UP. While everyone seems to moving on to college, not a word has been said about Brittany and her future, which makes me think that they're either planning something (but come on- it's Glee), or they're so sure she'll fail they just haven't bothered to bring it up. She cares and she's good hearted, and Puck has made it very clear for three seasons that it doesn't matter to him... so why does he care all of a sudden?

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    1. I agree with you with everything except the end of that. Puck has continuously reiterated that he didn't want to be a dead-beat and that graduating was important to him, he just gives appears not to care the majority of the time for his 'bad boy' image.

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  14. Puck has been somehwat of a plot device ever since Mark Salling dared to launch a solo record, RIB got pissed and the result is us seeing Puck diminished to almost nothing.

    There's also the lack of continuity and the character assassination that happens each week, with the writers ripping off of them developments and storylines that any normal show would have. Look at them parading a relationship as toxic as Finn and Rachel's like everything is normal and well, look at them forgetting that Santana was outed to the entire state by Finn and we're supposed to forgive and forget because Finn sang her a song - without even bothering to apologize.

    Look at Puck/Shelby's absurd storyline at the beginning of this season, at how badly handled the whole Shelby/Beth/Quinn situation was, at how Quinn's character has no consistency whatsoever and has also turned into a plot device instead of being one of the main characters in this trainwreck.

    Brittany, the poor thing, is almost forgotten. The senior class president that's never on the graduation pictures and has no mention of her current status as a student. She's only good to deliver dumb one-liners or to the occasional Brittana interaction.

    Mercedes was called to centre stage in the disco episode and no follow-up to that.

    Rachel was the strong girl that had no time to date because her pathway to stardom kept her too busy (and where does this leave her? Choking at her trademark song - twice - and potentially losing the only chance she got to make it).

    Should I mention how unrealistic it is for a character like season 1 Rachel Berry not knowing which College to apply to to achieve her dreams? Rachel Berry would've never applied to one school only, she'd have a backup plan, because this is the Rachel they presented to us on season 1 and took away, piece by piece, until there's nothing left in her except for the shell of what once was.

    I could go on and on about the trainwreck that is this show, one I just watch because I like some of the cast and out of sheer morbid curiosity. And yeah, I agree, I'm praying for cancellation, the assassination of Rachel Berry has already gone too far as it is, we don't need another season of this crap.

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  15. In Throwdown we found out that Sue has the cheerios grades change so they can be academically eligible to compete and as Brittany is still a Cheerio...

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  16. I read and enjoy your reviews, and tend to find myself largely in agreement with them...but I feel like some of your criticism of the show's sexism is way off the mark here.

    First of all, how was Santana's character assassinated/"dragged through the mud"? The Chris Brown comment was no more offensive than a lot of things she's said. She's told Artie to cut off his legs, since he's not using them anyway; she's told Tina to get her eyes de-slantified; she's told Rachel to move back to Israel; she's said lots of bigoted things. Why do her fans always forget this? I'm one of them, but that girl is mean. Her entire character throughout Season 1 and half of Season 2 was basically that she's there to make offensive remarks.

    Second, how has Rachel been repeatedly rejected throughout the show? Rachel almost always gets what she wants. She wanted Tina's solo in Season 1, and she got it; she wanted the role of Maria earlier this season, and she got it instead of Mercedes; she got a "Gold Star Award" trophy and everyone's admiration in Original Song for no apparent reason. Mercedes and Santana and other characters have complained again and again that they are ignored in favor of Rachel, yet Rachel continues to get far more solos than any other cast member. She's even (spoiler alert) apparently going to be elected prom queen via write-in ballot next episode, despite the fact she's supposed to be really unpopular. She's gotten what she wanted more than most of the other characters throughout the show, and it seems she'll continue to, despite her failure in this episode.

    (Not to mention that performing on Broadway has been Rachel's lifelong dream, but going to NYADA isn't. She only heard of NYADA earlier this season, when Emma mentioned it to her. If this show contained any semblance of realism, she'd realize there are tons of other great voice/theater college programs she could audition for - including ones in New York City, like Julliard's voice program or NYU's musical theater program. Blowing this audition shouldn't mean her dream is over.)

    I also don't really agree with your complaint that the men in this show always support and rally around each-other, while the women don't. Poorly-handled as it was, Sue and Roz's entire role in this episode was to support Beiste - and eventually the Glee club girls offered their support, too. Puck's friends supported his studying efforts, sure, but he failed anyway, so I fail to see how that was some superior show of friendly support. Offering a women in an abusive relationship shelter trumps failing to help a classmate pass a geography test any day. And I don't see why the girls not attending Rachel's audition proves the show disregards female friendship; none of the boys showed up for Kurt's, except for the one's dating. These characters weren't involved in the audition storyline because they were off in a different one.

    Finally: having Puck sing "The Rain in Spain" is appropriation, now? Really? A man covering a song sung my a women (yet written and composed by men) is sexist? I can understand disliking male covers of songs about female empowerment, but that song isn't one. I wouldn't want to live in a world where people are only allowed to perform songs originally sung by artists of their own gender - how terribly boring. You just sound like you're grasping at straws, frankly.

    There are plenty of actual, awful ways the show has dragged its female characters through the mud, or stripped meaningful, empowering songs from their context to sell iTunes downloads. But you just sound like you're spouting off random crap here to fuel your point about the show's sexism, and for those of us who want to actually call out and discuss the show's offensive content, that's not helping.

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    1. Santana has sung in a minimum of 2 songs per episode and Blaine has a similar count. Rachel is actually receiving very few songs any more

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  17. * one he's dating

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  18. I just felt that the idea of the Glee girls joking about domestic violence was rather unrealistic and out of character. Sure, I can give them Santana saying something insensitive, even if I thought it was a bit over the top, but the rest of the girls laughing along? Nah, not buying it.

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  19. Misogynistic? I am profoundly disturbed that you could dedicate so much thought to analyzing this episode's unceasing gender issues and still settle on this description. Please allow me to educate you on a fact that both you and Glee seem to have willfully failed to learn: approximately half of the domestic abuse in the United States is perpetrated by women against men. Yes, men naturally possess more upper body strength, but that's meaningless when the aggressor is wielding a weapon or the victim is unwilling to fight back. You've gone so far in analyzing the very real failures of the episode's discourse on the subject only to arrive at the conclusion that the *one* important thing it left out was teaching the boys just how bad they proabably are. Shame on them for being men, don't they know that they might end up hurting a woman some day? Before you dedicate a chapter of your life to passionately standing up for an injustice you perceive, you should spend some time actually researching it. The myth that men are the primary physical aggressors in the home is extremely dangerous, and to see an obviously intelligent person like you buy into it so wholeheartedly is dismaying beyond my capacity to express. To label Glee as misogynistic is simply foolish - partially because tossing around accusations of hate where nothing more than ignorance is present is a mistake, but more because its prejudices extend to men just as completely as women.

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  20. I'm confused; did my comment get deleted?

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  21. That's interesting, it clearly did...

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    1. Sorry. Spam filter. Thanks for the feedback!

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  22. And thank you for being nice about it! The tone is more bombastic than it perhaps should be... it's an issue that gets swept under the rug so often today that it's hard not to be sensitive about it.

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