Millennial Musicals and Glee

I have to admit, my guilty pleasure in life is the musical genre. When it comes to Broadway plays or musical films, I am all over it. For some reason however, I have kept myself away from ever viewing Glee. It may be because of the perception that Gleeks have, or it may be due to the fact that the plot surrounding a high school glee club doesn’t really appeal to me. However, after watching a few episodes of Glee, I have to admit that I really enjoyed the singing and the music. I believe that this is a forefront reason why most people watch Glee because they are intrigued by the music, rather than the traditional plot of high school politics.

Beyond the music however, what interests me was Glee’s representation of diversity and sexual orientation. While I believe the producers of the show pride themselves on having a diverse cast of characters (disabled, African-American, Asian, and gay characters), I believe it is a superficial presentation of diversity as the plot still is centered around a white cheerleader and quarterback, and a super talented Jewish singer. In the few episodes I saw, only these white characters were developed and these were the individuals with the solos and the praise. In an age where it is extremely difficult to make television shows popular, I totally understand that the producers did not necessarily want to take a risk by centering the show around a minority character, which goes against the norms of popular Millennial shows. Even though the plot may not be focused on the minority characters, I think Glee uses the genre of the musical (using the music) to develop these characters. They sing songs about their identity and their feelings, and I believe a lot of Millennial viewers can identify with them. I think that as the show becomes more and more popular and fixed icon in popular culture, the producers will feel more comfortable about taking more risks in terms of developing other characters.

The presentation of homosexuality in Glee is nothing like I’ve seen before on a network show, and also the fan reception is an aspect that I haven’t really noticed before either. First of all, while Glee may have a dry script and plot, I believe each episode portrays a Millennial moral message. Issues of race, popularity, social class, etiquette, and tolerance are themes of episodes that provide viewers with strong moral messages and codes on how we should think, act, and treat other people. In a few episodes, Glee targeted the issue of bullying and homosexuality, at a time when there were actual suicides taking place across America due to this very issue. I thought it was a very proactive that the producers developed and used their gay character Kurt, to combat this issue and show that it is okay to stand up for yourself and be who you are. Tolerance is a very Millennial value. This sentiment is also exhibited in fan reaction videos on YouTube of Kurt and Blaine’s first kiss. People of all generations show their excitement and compassion for this moment and post their reactions for all to see. The blatant visibility of homosexuality is very observable in the show, and Glee is providing a very strong message to past generations that tolerance and mixing of social groups is very acceptable.

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