Glee's Grand Debut on Netflix

This piece is a self-reflective nostalgia from its specific and deeply targeted premiere on the 20th of March 2015, when most of us were sitting zombified and devoted to the popular Disney Channel on 303. For those fortunate enough to have the full DSTV prescription, one could tune in each Wednesday on FOX to live vicariously through the stories of the first of Mr Schuester’s Glee Club. The possible psychopath and definite sociopath Rachel Berry; strong, black, thicc and gifted powerhouse Mercedes Jones; the flawless in-the-closet denial crocodile Porcelain Kurt Hummel; the wheelchair kid Arty Abrams and stuttering Asian goth Tina Cohen-Chang. I felt there was somewhere I could dream for free and live on the brightest stage with the brightest lights and largest of crowds in my imaginative mind and limited reality. I thank its creator, Ryan Murphy, for everything he has given my youth; such life-altering memorable content that lives in my heart always (AHS, Glee, Pose etc.). I saw myself in all of these, ‘losers’, ‘freaks’, ‘fatties’ and ‘geeks’ alike.

 

 

We begin in 2009, a fantastic year for queer expression on screen, which experienced the dawn of popular reality show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ (with that awful Valencia on steroids filter), and other gay shows like ‘The Vampire Diaries’ and ‘The Good Wife’. And I recall so clearly the beautiful rush of emotions when realizing you and other people might be seeing themselves on TV screens, in our living rooms, in front of our precious eyes. What a beautiful time to be alive with representation breaking the glass ceiling for characters so neglected in Hollywood0 and rarely understood past their race.  

Which brings me to my first topic of discussion; being honest with yourself. A feat so hard to accomplish most people become too involved in a role that you begin to believe your own lies…

  1. 1. Tell the truth

    To be distinctly strange or divergent from the norm, is a challenge to most LGBTQ+ teens. And things like prom, homecoming, science partners and dinners at Breadsticks are the determining cool factors of what differentiates the ‘popular’ kids and the ‘losers’. Social hierarchies are embedded into our DNA and expresses this hegemonic power through extra achievements: like school and sports; but, rarely is there an explicit devotion to the arts and how important they are in an adolescent mind. And, the character of Kurt Hummel was the embodiment of lack of self-expression for an ‘in-the-closet’ Kween, due to the slushy onslaught that awaits any sense of individuality. 

    Daddy Schu, sorry sorry, Mr Schuester, said to Mr Bryan Ryan (Neil Patrick Harris) in episode 21 of the first season. 

    Will Schuester Monologue on the Arts: 

    “Yes, most of them are not stars …but they shine like them. Do you know what happens when a star dies Bryan? It doesn’t just disappear. It turns into this black hole, this giant energy-sucking mass that doesn’t just collapse on itself; it takes away any light that comes close down with it. You take away Glee; you’re not just putting out those kids lights; you’re creating 13 black holes. […] I want you to understand how important the arts are for a person’s soul. You’re a black hole right now; but, maybe this will help you remember what it’s like to be a star!”

    Honestly, re-watching this realisation of personalities and the type of teen this vividly and targeted, really is such a blessing. In comparison to the lack of Person-Of-Colour content back in our parent’s day, the leaps Ryan Murphy was taking were not in vein. And furthermore, the reboot on Netflix has made almost everyone I have spoken to on the matter, re-fall in love with ‘Cory Monteith’/ the gorgeous Finn Hudson and his premature death… 

  2. 2. Cory Monteith is my immortal crush

    His smile and complete earnestness made me more and more emotional when he would have something inspirational to share with his group. His naivety and bravery for situations, set him apart from the traditional ‘Jock’ demeanour and unleashed a talent within Monteith that he even exclaims to never diving deep into before joining the cast. Essentially his character on the show and his attitude on set and in life were on the same wavelength. 

    In real life he had lived in a deep turmoil that only truly surfaced within the last few years of his life. He was found unresponsive on Saturday 13th July 2013, at the fruitful age of 31, the autopsy stated he died from a “mixed drug toxicity” and his death appears to have been accidental. A tragic reality which was later felt by the show; its production teams and cast. 

    Ultimately, the show dedicated an entire episode to Finn Hudson (season 5, episode 3) entitled ‘The Quarterback’. I plan to re-watch the entire series and see the evolution of the characters who gave me company while feeling out of place in some many spaces. All I remember is that I cried, and I rarely cry for famous rich people and the shortlist of celebs “to cry for...” consists of Michael Jackson’s death, my family members’ deaths and possibly the end of Marley & Me, but that remains undetermined. 

    But Cory’s death during the age of BBM and the birth of Instagram, the information just seemed even more prolific and devastating to our young hearts. Now, with the recent death of young ‘Jessie’ star, Cameron Boyce, tween dreamhunks seem to die so easily now. I remember a picture on my phone with the caption ‘THEY’RE ENGAGED!’ at the top; referring to Leah Michelle and Monteith’s off-screen relationship – and the fact that they never reached the altar breaks my heart all over again. And, the reboot has immortalised him digitally will ensure a legacy which will be fostered by the future young mothers and fathers who love Finn Hudson with the most passionate desire.  Before our desires switched from Glee to One Direction and prepubescent obsessions of that nature. 

  3. 3. The metamorphosis of a music playlist

    The content of each episode not only spoke to certain parts of me every time; but, is the largest contributor to my “eclectic” music playlist that I have been building since learning what an mp3 actually is. Old and new; rock and swing; black and femxle songs to sing for any occasion made me appreciate more what was out their – however, still finding it somewhat difficult to relate to country music under any capacity. 

    My favourites just from season 1 have to include the following:

    - Kelly Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck (Without You)” performed by ensemble cast

    - Broadway Musical Dreamgirls’ “And I Am Telling You” performed by Mercedes Jones 

    - Broadway Musical Chicago’s “Mr Cellophane” performed by Kurt Hummel

    - Broadway Musical Funny Girl’s “Don’t Rain On My Parade” performed by Rachel Berry

    - Mash-up of Katrina & the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine” and Beyoncé’s “Halo” performed by the girls of glee high on Vitamin D

    - The Doors’ “Hello, I Love You” performed by Finn Hudson

    - Remix of “Let’s Get Physical” featuring Sue Sylvester and Olivia Newton-John (LEGENDARY)

    - Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance” performed by Artie Abrams and his walking legs

    - Salt n Peppa’s “Push It” performed by ensemble cast in compromising positions 

    - Broadway Musical Cabaret’s “Maybe This Time” performed by the wonderful April Rhodes (Kristen Chenoweth) and Rachel Berry

    - Duffy’s “Mercy” performed by rival team Vocal Adrenaline 

    - Jasmine Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows” performed and broken by Mercedes Jones

    - Mash-up of Usher’s “Confessions” and Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” performed by the boys, also riding high on Vitamin D

    - The saddest version of Generation X (Nouvelle Vague version)’s “Dancing with Myself” performed by Artie Abrams 

    - Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” performed by the ensemble cast in wheelchairs

    - Dionne Warwick’s “A House Is Not a Home” performed by Kurt Hummel

    - Broadway Musical Gypsy’s “Rose’s Turn” performed by Kurt Hummel 

    - THE WHOLE MADONNA EPISODE 

    But, especially the video they made for Jane Lynch’s character Sue Sylvester to help her conceptualise her feminist/terrorist nature that is very Madonna-eques in execution. This was the first time I recorded an episode and watched it religiously every day after that. It was as if Sue was Madge herself and giving ALL THE LIIIFFE I needed, wanted and deserved. Even the breakdowns and the frame-by-frame comparisons to the original Vogue video is immaculate. 

  4. 4. Brittany S. Pierce

    The character of Brittany Susan Pierce played by Heather Morris (when she already had 2 kids by the way), was the goofiest and most incoherent character on the show. Her constant confusion on the context of any scene or any conversation is so funny, and upsetting all at the same time. But her shining moment in season one was when she was forced to confront her beef with beloved pop icon Britney Spears who she shares the same name, Brittany S. Pierce. *insert eye roll emoji* 

    But the moves she was pulling in Britney anaesthesia induced coma was no joke. At one point it looks like she’s WERKing so hard that she might hurt herself. She is a performer than understands movement, hairography, theatricality and overall sexiness. Her abs definitely contributed to my bisexuality today = FACTS.

  5. 5. Torturous and evil teachers

    When you think of a terrible teacher your mind will probably make the first destination of Afrikaans/Maths/Technology teachers. But for me, one person who can surpass and even perfect the cruelty of Miss Trunchbull, more dastardly than Professor Snape, and more punishing than Mr Woodcock or Mr Strickland from ‘Back to The Future’ combined. 

    Sue Sylvester, the most villainous educator to face the planet earth possibly. Even more out of line than Clarissa Venter, the slap-happy teacher from Sans Souci Girls’ High – who is back at work by the way. But Sue’s rage comes from a placed deeply rooted inside her Grinch-sized heart and has never ceased to amaze and shock me in the worst ways. From that time, she made coach Beiste dog poo cookies; to the other when she was going to endanger Brittany’s life to shoot her out of a canon – as viewers, she has always kept us on her toes and never fails to disappoint in the department of deception and general psychopathic tendencies. Appreciating the softer sides can be difficult with a character like Sue; but, as the episode keeps playing little glimpses of hope for a potential soul become greater and greater and reveals some heart-warming experiences Sue has gone through…

    Now, let’s talk Puckerman… 

  6. 6. Noah Puckerman

    Re-realising a character beyond what is in front of the screen can be devastating and often times off-putting due to the content that person associates with. And, this feeling of disgust or disapproval only impacts its audience when the truth comes out. Famous family shows, such as: The Cosby Show, Arrested Development, Master of None, Anything James Franco has ever done, anything Harvey Weinstein was a part of, House of Cards, Andrew Kreisberg’s involvement in Supergirl and The Flash, anything involving Louis C.K., Matt Lauer from the Today Show, That 70s Show and the list keeps going. 

    But, something about Mark Salling’s charges of possession of child pornography become common knowledge, my love for the show was constantly overshadowed by the lingering feeling in the back of my mind that Puck is a pedo. He pleaded guilty and admitted to have over 4, 000 pictures and around 160 videos of child pornography on his device; and furthermore, how he would use a special app to hide his IP and download illegal images. He has been given a lifetime (20 years) of supervised parole and is a registered sex offender and he must also pay 50, 000 dollars in restitution for his victims and those affected. Justice. 

    The thought makes me sick and has a very Black Mirror’s “Shut Up and Dance” feel to it; because without the constant bombardment of technological monitoring, there would probably be a lot more famous sex offenders out in public for Hollywood to scrutinize. Think of artists like R. Kelly or Michael Jackson; they were examined by the public in a thorough way, maybe because they were black or just bigger stars than Salling. But either way, when abuse is testified by whomever, there should always be justice that follows; and, thankfully unlike many others this case remained just to an extent. 

    How do we separate the art from the artist? Because there are still definitely moments when I fall in love with Puckerman all over again while he is singing or dancing. And, then I remember ‘woah, wait, he’s literally a pedophile’. Which I find an interesting situation to manoeuvre watching it again as adults who know what that means…

When all is said and done, the one man who deserves our attention and admiration is Ryan Murphy, the genius mind behind so many of our popular FX and FOX shows running today. Apart from having a separate career as a musician, Murphy stayed busy to deliver use some favourites, such as: American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Nip/Tuck, Glee, The New Normal, Scream Queens, Feud, The Politician and Pose. He also directed most of the productions and some famous films, such as: Eat Pray Love and Running with Scissors. Only a beautiful mind lie Murphy’s could conceptualise these ideas all overlapped in production when analysing his discography. Along with the help of Brad Falchuk and almost every piece made by Murphy, they set out on a journey to tell marginalised stories as real, tangible and relatable to the viewer. A queer, freaky, tragic, horrifying universe was created by Murphy and it never ceases to keep growing its branches and expand in relation to what types of stories they can tell. 

A prime example would be the FX Ryan Murphy production currently running on its 2nd season, Pose. The stories, the drama and the balls are what make this series one to be and so important for the political and economic climates the world finds themselves in today. Who would think that the stories, so ignored or demonized by HIV/AIDS during the 90s would come back in a bigger, better and more visceral in emotion and visibility. I have never been happier to live in a time like this. And, the reinforcement of Glee on Netflix, brings me even closer to the youth I was before: slightly queer and expressive to the max.