Kurt and Blaine: Treated unfairly?
There are a number of Glee fans who seem to be quite up in arms about the unequal depiction of straight couples vs. gay couples on Glee. Their response is a new initiative called The Glee Equality Project. They are developing a multi-faceted campaign on tumblr, facebook, and twitter. In their FAQ, they explain what they are attempting to accomplish:
To raise awareness and draw attention to Glee’s double standard in their portrayal of physical affection by LGBT couples and heterosexual couples. We hope this will put pressure on Fox, their broadcast standards group, and the Glee production to portray the LGBT couples equally in the future.
I think a lot of people were extremely disappointed with some recent statements by Ryan Murphy made in response to accusations that gay couples got an unfair amount of support from the program:
The thing about that, I [feel] like with that sort of group of fans, you really at a certain point, and we do talk about it in the writers’ room, you really can’t win. I fee like this is a network show that is on at 8 o'clock, which you know is a family hour, and I feel like there is no other show on television that has done more for gay characters and for gay storylines than Glee. I really believe that and I’ve really fought hard for it and I have a network and a studio that doesn’t bat an eye and says, “Great.” I feel like a lot of the lesbian fans want Brittany and Santana to have a full on nude makeout sessions sometimes, I feel like they feel the same way about Kurt and Blaine. I think that they also feel sometimes that we have not handled those characters exactly like they want. And to that I say, “You know what? You’re probably right. I think there’s some things in the last two seasons we maybe could have done a little more artfully, and a little bit more carefully and a little more- respectfully in the wrong word but I sort of do get pethe criticisms, but you know - look- you’re doing a show very sort of- a lot things happen, you try to do your best, sometimes things don’t work out.”
— Ryan Murphy, Executive Producer, GoldDerby.com, June 2012
My own two cents on this matter:
1. Brittana, as a couple, has a unique problem. Brittany is an exceptionally stupid character played by a really flat, dull actress. If Santana is to have a really interesting, engaging lesbian love story, they are going to have to break this couple up and get Santana a better screen partner. Brittany is not capable, as a lesbian character, to be the standard-bearer her fans would like her to be. I submit that is at least partly because of Brittany's limitations as a character that this couple does not have a deeper storyline.
2. Klaine is a little better; Blaine's not depicted as being unintelligent, and while I don't think Darren is as strong an actor as Chris is, he does well enough to make this work. Unfortunately, there is a stronger mainstream revulsion to the depiction of affection between two men than there is between two women, and that may be what is causing the network to write them such a stale, cold, passionless relationship. Of course, Glee is in a unique position to help create an environment that is more accepting of love affairs between two men, and for whatever reason, they seem to be shying away from the opportunity lately.
3. Glee is on FOX, an exceptionally conservative network. Gay marriage is a very volatile issue, and this is an election year. I don't have a high opinion of Murphy's integrity, but I suspect he's caught between a rock and a hard place. This may indeed be all he's allowed to show us - but they certainly wouldn't let him tell us that. Also, Glee's ratings have fallen dramatically since the gay characters became more prominent. I do not believe this is cause and effect, per se... I think the ratings have fallen because the writing in general is getting weaker, and the rise of gay characters was only a coincidence. However, Murphy may feel he needs to play it a little safer to stay on the air.
You can learn more about the Glee Equality Project through Glee Equality Project on Facebook and Glee Equality Project on Tumblr. They also have an email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I once wrote a column on Hypable about this same topic called The Glaring PDA Double Standard.
So, what do you think? Is the depiction of straight vs. gay couples on Glee unfair, or is this controversy unnecessary? I think it's unfair... but I am not sure if Murphy can fix it or not.