TV: Gossip Girl — “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Lonely Boy Scorned”*.

dan humphrey gossip girl

It’s been a year and a half since Dan Humphrey was revealed as the titular character of Gossip Girl, a show that began as a poignant guilty pleasure but that culminated in convoluted trash. I recently went back and rewatched the show’s six seasons in an effort to dissect the clues as to who Gossip Girl was all along.

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The Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz-produced effort based on the book series of the same name by Cecily von Ziegesar debuted just prior to the financial crisis of ’08. Fancying itself a commentary on the decadence and debauchery of “Manhattan’s elite”, the show may be narrated by a Kristen Bell-voiced bitchy blogger behind a computer screen (or, more likely, a smart phone), but it is told through the eyes of Brooklyn social pariah, Dan Humphrey.  In his stop-at-nothing quest to get “inside” the society scene of the Upper East Side, Dan becomes the exact thing he despised. Let me count the ways…

In season one Serena Van der Woodsen is a wide-eyed ingénue back from boarding school who wants to “take a year off… to teach English in South Asia” and Dan is her sensitive but invisible admirer. “Lonely Boy”, he is not so affectionately known as. Season one establishes Dan as the “ultimate insider”, embodying “a likable everyman” whose “pursuit of his dream girl begins his descent into the bowels of hell.” His family often comments on how judgmental Dan can be, and he makes Serena feel like shit in “Roman Holiday” when she eagerly buys him a watch for Christmas, which he asks her to return due to its conspicuity. By the same token, Serena effectively emasculates** Dan when she pays the cheque at a fancy restaurant on their first date and constantly ditches him for someone or something more important, like Blair’s crises or a society shindig.

While it’s been suggested that the writers only started plotting the big reveal of Dan-as-Gossip Girl in the final season when it was evident it would be the shows last, keen-eyed and -eared viewers can unearth some early scenes where Lonely Boy as the undercover chronicler of “the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite” seems plain as day. For example, in season two’s “Gone With the Will”, Gossip Girl describes Dan as “brown-bagging it for lunch”, a reference to the receptacle in which he brings his tuna sandwich to school that day. However, as the footage clearly shows, the only people who saw Dan’s brown paper bag were Dan, Serena and Blair. Of course, Serena has her dalliance as Gossip Girl in season five, but combined with the fact that Dan “loses” his phone the very same day that a GG blast*** is sent about Dan and Serena’s shared sibling—about which only Dan, his father Rufus and Serena’s mother Lily know—the evidence mounts in favour of Dan-as-Gossip Girl. Furthermore, in season five, it is revealed that Dan “sent” a video to GG of Blair telling Chuck she still loves him on her wedding day to Louis. What becomes apparent is that he didn’t so much send the video file to Gossip Girl as he uploaded it directly to the site that he is webmaster of, Gossip Girl.

In the season two finale, “The Goodbye Gossip Girl”, when Dan, Serena et al. graduate high school, Gossip Girl has a graduation ceremony of sorts of her own, and crowns Dan “the ultimate insider”, as we come to know him throughout the show’s trajectory. Gossip Girl has always been famed for only writing about high school, specifically Constance Billard and St. Judes, the girls and boys schools the GG cast attend respectively. But, it’s only fitting that if GG is a student at one of those schools that she follows in their footsteps to college, right? Serena, for one, was so happy not to have her digital nemesis tarnish her foray into tertiary education, but no such luck: Gossip Girl now covers college.

As Gossip Girl graduates from high school and into the more grown up university scene, so does Dan, who moves on from Serena to date movie star Olivia Burke, played by Hilary Duff. This is mirrored by GG’s growing penchant for chronicling celebrities and events outside of her previous jurisdiction. This will later be exemplified by Dan’s book, Inside, and his Dominick Dunne-esque society serial in Vanity Fair.

Speaking of, Dan’s fictionalised memoir (which Dunne was also oh-so-fond of) is about his quest to get “inside” “the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite” but its publication in “Memoirs of an Invisible Dan” ends up ostracising him from his friendship (I use that term loosely) group. Serena is upset that she’s painted as a vapid socialite to whom everything comes easy, while Nate expresses disdain that Dan sees him as half a person, so much so that his character is amalgamated with Eric’s. While Dan may have offended pretty much everyone close—and not so close—to him, he makes sure to emphasise his own character’s status as “a judgmental dick who can’t even look at himself in the mirror. My character comes off the worst of all of them.”

As Serena find out in season five’s “Raiders of the Lost Art” during her foray into gossip serialising, getting “inside” actually cuts you off from the rest of the world and makes you post hateful things about your friends and family in an effort to stay relevant and get the most hits. Serena, like Dan, becomes drunk with power. After all, “the more readers I have, the more power I have,” he opines in the final seasons’ “Dirty Rotten Scandals”.

By the series’ end, Dan has become just as bad as the conniving and scheming Blair and Chuck and their cohort. As Gossip Girl, Dan is implicated in the car accident that put Chuck in a coma and induced Blair’s miscarriage, Jenny’s banishment from New York and the general unhappiness of his “friends” and family, yet the gang still welcomes Dan back into the fold, and Serena even ends up marrying him! Why are they so quick to forgive him? Because just as Chuck raped Blair and Jenny, prostituted Blair out to his uncle in exchange for real estate and exposed her to intimate partner violence; Blair had an affair with Chuck’s uncle, sabotaged Serena’s college application to Yale and her catwalk debut, and ran Jenny and Georgina, amongst others, out of town; the supposed moral compass of Gossip Girl, Vanessa, and good girl gone bad Jenny help Juliet drug and abduct Serena in one of the series’ best story arcs in season four; Lily framed an innocent man for statutory rape in order to protect Serena’s image and didn’t tell her one true love Rufus about their baby she gave up for adoption way back when; not to mention the myriad transgressions I haven’t listed here, “you and all your other friends would gave done the exact same thing”. They forgave each other for their seemingly weekly betrayals, so what’s one more?

Related: Is Serena Our Generation’s Dominick Dunne?

The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

Elsewhere: [Remind Me of The] Gossip Girl, Jenny Humphrey & Rape Culture.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

**I don’t really believe in emasculation, ideologically speaking. If anything, society drums into us that men have to behave a certain way—in Dan’s case, providing for Serena—and when someone or something challenges that, it’s easy to cry “emasculation” without really examining the root of that notion.

***Another term for a Gossip Girl “post” or “status”. Which begs the question: if everyone hates GG so much and wants her taken down, why do they subscribe to her notifications?

Image via Wet Paint.

Book VS. TV: Stephen King’s Under the Dome.

under the dome

Under the Dome by Stephen King had been sitting on my pile of books to be read for nearly two years when I nabbed it off a friend who was moving interstate. When the TV series of the same name premiered earlier this year, I thought it was high time I delved into the 1074-page world of King’s Chester’s Mill, a small town in (where else?) Maine.

I’ve only ever read one other King book, 11/22/63, which wasn’t faultless by any means, but which I enjoyed. I’d hoped I’d feel the same about Under the Dome, but that wasn’t to be as it is one of the most boring, misogynist, needlessly violent, cringe worthy and pointless books I’ve ever read.

The first half is somewhat intriguing, but UTD could have been cut down by 500 pages and still make for an okay effort on King’s part. The descriptions of the female characters are unnecessarily focussed on their physicality, ages and physical appearances, whereas I don’t recall the men being written about that way. Many of the women are sexually assaulted both in life and death, and the apparent heroines are rendered pathetic as the story progresses, life under the dome becomes more hostile and their male paramours step up to the plate. There are far too many characters that they’re hard to keep track of, but were seemingly only written in to the story to be killed off in horrifically violent ways. The dialogue is some of the clunkiest I’ve ever read; the same goes for the inner monologues. And can someone please explain to me why King felt the need to get into the head of a dog who comes face to face with a ghost?! You’re really undermining your credibility here, King.

1000 pages later, UTD ends very unsatisfactorily and somewhat childishly.

Now, this could very well be the way every King novel finishes; I just haven’t read enough to know whether UTD is a terrible fluke but I suspect this is the case as 350 million readers can’t be wrong… Can they?

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I finished reading UTD with about two or three episodes of season one left to air, but I didn’t end up watching it until last week. I think I just needed a break from all the nonsense before I gave the screen adaptation of King a chance. But I’m glad I did, because the series is far better than the book.

The characters are nuanced and you find yourself rooting for them onscreen far more than on the page. Whereas Jim Rennie was pure evil according to King, up until the last few episodes when his true evil proclivities are revealed, viewers are in Rennie’s corner. The same goes for his son, Junior, who is a mentally ill necrophiliac in the book, but has more facets when he’s played by Alexander Koch (though Junior is still the Dome’s most inconsistent and annoying character). I also really liked that the show did away with the unnecessary throng of characters, amalgamating several traits into one person, and thus the senseless killing: every death on TV meant something.

For anyone who’s read the book prior, you know what’s coming next, but the CBS series makes its characters empathetic, its storyline watchable and the motivations surrounding the dome that much more intriguing that its audience wonders if they’ll be different on the small screen…

Image via L.A. Times.

The Problem with Sex & the City 2.

sex and the city 2 carrie book review

I’ve been thinking and wanting to write about Sex & the City 2 for quite some time, but I was never sure of the right angle to take. Having just rewatched the whole series, culminating in the arguably ill-fated films, I think I’m ready to dip my toe in the shark-infested waters that surround Sex & the City 2.

SATC2 picks up where the first film left off: the franchise’s ascent into affluence but its decent of integrity. And where better to splash some new money than the “new” Middle East: Abu Dhabi.

I stand by the series and even the first movie, but Carrie and the girls are pressing my loyalty with their Arabian adventure. Samantha throwing condoms around the souk in an effort to assert her empowerment (a sentiment I don’t disagree with, but can we please respect multiculturalism?) followed by some covered Muslim women revealing their gaudy designer garb under their abayas and hijabs because FASHUN = the end of gender inequality could certainly have been omitted from the second cinematic outing and it still would have been a semi-palatable film. While these antics blatantly show how out of touch SATC has become, the girls’ ignorance is echoed throughout the film when Charlotte gets sucked into having “the Forbidden Experience” (purchasing black market designer wares) and questions what the call to prayer means. You’d think that before jetting off to the land of “desert moons, Scheherazade and magic carpets” women who are as free as they are would be a little more in touch with the culture and what’s expected of them there. Smart Traveller, hello?!

What I do like about the Middle Eastern flair of the film, though, is the thematic parallels between women wearing veils to silence their voices and the question of whether Carrie, after five books and countless “I couldn’t help but wonder”’s (literally; I lost count after about ten when I rewatched the series. Repetition, much?!), should shut up.

This seems to be the consensus, as New York magazine’s review of her latest book, I Do! Do I?, is titled “The Vow of Silence”. And in the accompanying illustration, Carrie is drawn with tape across her mouth, to echo the silencing of their Middle Eastern counterparts: “It’s like they don’t want them to have a voice,” Carrie observes. Synergy!

The concept of women’s voices is echoed elsewhere in the films’ storylines, with Miranda quitting her job because her misogynist boss didn’t respect her “strong female voice”, and Charlotte blaming Samantha for “open[ing] her big mouth” about her hot, braless nanny being a distraction for Harry.

Looking back on enlightenment of the series, it makes me sad that the insight into women’s lives, sex and otherwise, that it was so famous for has been completely erased from Sex & the City 2 in the name of capitalism and cultural insensitivity.

Related: In Defence of Sex & the City.

In Defence of Sex & the City.

carrie-and-the-girls-baseball

Earlier this year there was somewhat of a resurgence of appreciation for the art of SexSex & the City, that is.

In the wake of the death of Sopranos star James Gandolfini and the culmination of decade-defining Breaking Bad, the apparent age of the anti-hero is upon us. The Sopranos was no doubt a watershed moment for cable network HBO, but what about another HBO show that aired six months prior and also elucidated a generation: Sex & the City?

TV critic Emily Nussbaum was thinking along the same lines when she wrote her own defence of the series earlier this year for The New Yorker. A sample:

“But Sex and the City, too, was once one of HBO’s flagship shows. It was the peer of The Sopranos, albeit in a different tone and in a different milieu, deconstructing a different genre. Mob shows, cop shows, cowboy shows—those are formulas with gravitas. Sex and the City, in contrast, was pigeonholed as a sitcom. In fact, it was a bold riff on the romantic comedy: the show wrestled with the limits of that pink-tinted genre for almost its entire run. In the end, it gave in. Yet until that last-minute stumble it was sharp, iconoclastic television. High-feminine instead of fetishistically masculine, glittery rather than gritty, and daring in its conception of character, Sex and the City was a brilliant and, in certain ways, radical show. It also originated the unacknowledged first female anti-hero on television: ladies and gentlemen, Carrie Bradshaw.”

Carrie Bradshaw—like the anti-heroine Hannah in the apparent anti-SATC of this generation, Lena Dunham’s Girls—is not someone to look up to. She’s mind-numbingly selfish (“This can’t be the day I was broken up with by a Post-It!” No, Carrie, it was the day your friend Charlotte got engaged. But, by Charlotte’s own admission, it would be her second marriage so it’s not that important, right?); lives in a rent-controlled pre-war brownstone on the “gated island for the wealthy”, as Nussbaum puts it, apparently paid for by a $400-a-week-if-she’s-lucky-freelance-gig; and cheated on Aidan with Big. (In the ill-fated second movie, Carrie then cheats on Big with Aidan.)

While Carrie may not be a wholly identifiable character, the friendships she shares with Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte certainly are. Carrie is obviously everyone’s best friend who is asked to be maid of honour at their weddings and pick them up from the hospital when they’re sick, but the dynamics between the other women are interesting. Samantha and Charlotte can certainly clash over their differing ideologies on sex and relationships—the season three episode, “Frenemies”, perfectly illustrated the virgin-whore dichotomy between the two, but I love the maternal side Samantha shows around Charlotte, supporting her in “The Baby Shower” when she discovers the mum-to-be stole her future daughter’s name. I most strongly identify with Miranda, who often clashes with Carrie due to her whimsical attitude about things like money and men. For example, when Carrie reveals she’s going to lunch with Big after countless heartbreak in the season three finale, Miranda becomes exasperated at Carrie’s masochism and storms out of a vintage store they were shopping at. On the other side of the coin, Carrie disapproves of Miranda unquestioningly cutting ties with Steve for cheating on her in the original movie.

And let’s not forget the ground SATC broke in terms of women and talking about sex and TV. Looking back on it now, some of the attitudes the girls share about gender (Samantha’s treatment of the transgendered sex workers outside her apartment), sexuality (Miranda comments that bisexuality isn’t a valid orientation because the women end up with men and the men end up with men) and sex work (when everyone finds out Stanford’s boyfriend, Marcus, was a sex worker); but, at that time, can you recall many other shows that were so open and frank about sex and how women feel about it?

So while the show might be called Sex & the City—and let’s be clear, there’s a hell of a lot of it!—it’s very much about women and friendships in New York City.

Elsewhere: [The New Yorker] Difficult Women.

Image via Musings of the Girl Who Was Death.

TV: Sexist Tropes on The Mindy Project.

mindy project pretty man

Last night’s (or very early this morning, if you’re still keeping track of when it airs) episode of The Mindy Project dealt with Mindy’s tendency to date douchebags. And who’s douchier than a prostitute, amiright?

Mindy certainly has sexism and racism problems, and the former was never more evident than in “Pretty Man”, in which Mindy picks up a guy, Adam, in a bar who turns out to be a sex worker.

Mindy is disgusted by this and kicks him out of her apartment before they actually engage in what Adam is employed to do, but that doesn’t stop him showing up at her office the next day to get remunerated for his time.

There are lots of ill-thought out jokes about prostitution (even Adam refers to himself as a “prostitute” which I’m not so sure is the preferred term amongst the sex work community), trustworthiness and Pretty Woman (after all, The Mindy Project is a sitcom born out of its protagonist’s love of romantic comedies).

But what the Adam storyline really serves as a metaphor for, whether intentionally or otherwise, is the desire to change a man.

While Mindy is encouraging Adam to pursue is real dream (because no one could ever really want to be a sex worker) of being a singer/songwriter and buying him clothes à la Pretty Woman, Mindy’s friend Alex is trying to mould new boyfriend Danny into the partner she wants him to be: more outgoing and less uptight.

So while this episode is not necessarily man-friendly—it is a change to see a male sex workers portrayed as negatively as female sex workers are—, it’s more detrimental to the womenz: we’ll find faults with any man, whether they’re a prostitute or a rich doctor.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Mindy Kaling Only Makes Out with White Guys on The Mindy Project.

Image via Fox.

TV: Paper Giants 2 — Modern Day Magazine Wars.

paper giants magazine wars

ABC’s two-part sequel to 2011’s Ita Buttrose biopic, Paper Giants 2: Magazine Wars, culminated last night with the death of Nene King’s husband, Princess Di, and the integrity of gossip magazines.

It’s interesting that the miniseries that charts the rise and rise of Woman’s Day under the leadership of King to overtake New Idea as the premier women’s weekly magazine in Australia aired at the time of all the hullaballoo surrounding the rights to publish pictures from Jennifer Hawkins’ Bali wedding.

For those who haven’t been keeping score, Bauer Media’s Woman’s Day paid upwards of $300,000 to publish exclusive pictures from the former Miss Universe’s wedding to long-time beau Jake Wall, but not before Channel 7, and their associated print platform, Who magazine, put paparazzi pics from a hovering helicopter into the public domain. Sounds like a storyline from the next instalment of Paper Giants

Magazine Wars addresses the pursuit by the paparazzi for the hottest pics during the height of the public’s obsession with the royals, Squidgygate, Camillagate and, of course, Princess Diana’s death, which was arguably caused by the paps. This is juxtaposed with the diving accident death of King’s husband, Pat, whose body has never been found, and King suddenly found herself on the pages of the magazines instead of dictating what was on them. While King and boss Kerry Packer stare at the word “Killer” spray-painted in red on the roller door to ACP’s parking garage and the Woman’s Day office gets threatening phone calls, King laments that she’s only giving the people what they want, before the closing credits roll against a backdrop of Paris Hilton in jail, Anna Nicole Smith’s tragic downfall and Kim Kardashian’s bikini body.

Woman’s Day and its magazine war with New Idea may have been partly responsible for Australia’s growing obsession with celebrity culture, but King’s right: magazine circulation may be dwindling currently, but for a while there gossip rags were modern culture’s guilty pleasure du jour, and that obsession has transferred online to TMZ, Perez Hilton and the like. Princess Di and her ilk may have tried to escape the paparazzi, but in this day and age, they’re an accepted part and parcel of being in the public eye.

Related: Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Woman’s Day Paid More Than $300,000 for Jennifer Hawkins’ Wedding Shots. Then This Happened…

TV: Smash Finale — “Big Finish”.

After two tumultuous seasons filled with cast and creative overhauls, dwindling ratings and a move to Saturday nights in the U.S. to really put the final nail in the coffin, Smash bid Australian audiences adieu last night on Soho.

I, for one, am sad to see Smash go as, while it certainly wasn’t the best or most cohesive show on TV, I found it immensely enjoyable to watch, partly because I’m a sucker for Marilyn Monroe and a fan of musical theatre, but also because of the melodrama and the sometimes-fantastic casting.

It’s no secret I’ve had my issues with Smash, though, namely Katharine McPhee as Karen Cartwright, whom the writers tried to shove down the audience’s throat, even more so with her star turn in Hit List in season two. Luckily, this freed the part of Marilyn Monroe up for Ivy, who should have been a shoe in for the part from get, what with her curvy frame, platinum blonde locks and knockout Broadway voice.

While there were a few problems with season one, like Julia’s family life (which was reintroduced in the final, leading me to ask, what was the point in retiring Frank and Michael Swift in the first place?), her obsession with scarves, Karen’s possessive boyfriend Dev, and psycho assistant Ellis, Gossip Girl’s Joshua Safran was brought in to replace series creator (and real life Julia Huston) Theresa Rebeck and revamp the show. He did this by dreaming up a rival musical for Bombshell: Hit List.

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“The only reason Hit List made it to Broadway was because Kyle Bishop died.”

Harsh, Ivy, but true. Kyle was one of the better new characters of season two, but he and his musical could be seen as an allegory for Smash: it was dead in the water so a second musical was introduced in an attempt to revive it.

Several of the themes and songs in Hit List centre around reinvention—“Rewrite This Story”, for example—though I’m not sure how intentional the correlation with Smash’s failure was.

And for an eventual Broadway musical driven by the meta desire to run on Broadway, Hit List has a strange obsession with MTV, fame and the VMAs, of all things. While this wasn’t revealed on the show, it did come out in a very interesting story on Vulture, which begs the question: how did a show (both Smash and Hit List) about Broadway dreams become so muddied by pop?

Safran’s former show’s influence can also be seen in Jimmy, the bad boy who just wants to make good, and Karen’s just the manic pixie (strike that; she’s far too bland to fall into that problematic category) dream girl to help him. What eventuated with Jimmy’s past harks back to Gossip Girl’s season one cliff-hanger: Serena thinks she killed someone on a drug-fuelled bender, but it all works out for the best.

Ivy also experiences a happy ending (pardon the pun) when she finally tells Derek she’s pregnant and he expresses joy at the news despite the fact that his character has been bewildered by parenthood in the past and—of course!—there’s no other option for Ivy than to go ahead with the pregnancy in the wake of her burgeoning career and Tony win. This is network TV, after all.

As for the Tony’s, which rounded out the series (sorry Safran; you didn’t make it to the VMAs like you’d hoped), Kyle took Best Book, but Best Actress, Best Musical and Best Original Score– Music And/Or Lyrics went to Bombshell, proving the Marilyn musical still reigns supreme in the short-lived world of Smash.

Related: The Problem with Smash.

Elsewhere: [The New Yorker] Farewell, Smash.

[Vulture] The Unspoken Full Plot for Smash’s Hit List Musical is Revealed.

TV: Glee — Female-on-Male Molestation is, “Like, Every Teenage Boy’s Fantasy.”

glee ryder lynn molested

Apparently the episode in which Ryder and Kitty reveal that they were molested as children was made in partnership with RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest Nation Network, although you wouldn’t think it from Sam and Artie’s reaction to Ryder’s confession.

“Some hot 18-year-old played with your junk? I’d kill for that!”

“Why are you ashamed of this?”

While their responses are typical of many of the attitudes surrounding female-on-male sexual assault, the fact that these were really the only strong reactions—apart from Marley, Tina and Mr. Schue’s meek protestations about it being “not cool”—before the show moved on doesn’t really scream sexual assault awareness.

Artie, Sam et al.’s feedback simply buys into the notion that girls who are sexually assaulted are sluts who wanted it (Kitty’s depiction on the show as a bitchy, sexually promiscuous cheerleader proves this, though in their defence I doubt the writers had this storyline in mind when they created her character) and boys are sexually awakened studs. Had the episode aired a follow-up scene in which Mr. Schue led the class in an after school special-esque speech about the detrimental effects of sexual assault and the accompanying attitudes surrounding it, it would have been schmaltzy and patronising as only Glee can be, but at least it would have taken a crack at dismantling such bias.

Elsewhere: [RAINN] Glee & RAINN Team Up for Episode.

Image via Wikia.

TV: Modern Family — B(r)e(a)st Men.

breastfeeding modern family

Older men telling breastfeeding mothers to “be a bit classy about it” seems to be the order of the day, and art is imitating life on Modern Family.

First David Koch made that massive gaffe about breastfeeding mothers on Sunrise, insinuating that there’s a time and place for it and it isn’t in public, and now Modern Family’s resident baby boomer, Jay Pritchett, is shaming Gloria for giving their newborn, Fulgencio Joseph, sustenance via her breast milk. Similarly to Kochie’s sentiments, Jay tells Gloria not to “do that in front of strangers” when he catches the mailman staring at her bare breast—albeit with a baby suckling it—and that perhaps a “dark closet” might be more appropriate. Yeah, because breastfeeding mothers just love expressing milk in public toilets or fitting in a breastfeed whilst changing their baby’s nappy in a baby change room.

We’ve all heard the outcry surrounding the sexualisation and shaming of breastfeeding: it’s the most natural act; it’s what breasts were intended for; breastfeeding shouldn’t be seen as sexy, etc. But when you’ve got popular personalities like Kochie and TV shows like Modern Family pushing the opposite agenda, can we really expect the public perception of breastfeeding as sexual and/or shameful to change?

Further to this, when Manny expresses (pardon the pun) a fixation with the female form in art class, everyone jumps to the conclusion that Gloria’s voluptuousness and her clingy maternalistic treatment of her son is at the crux of Manny’s newfound sexual awakening. Breastfeeding and motherhood are, again, completely natural and all but essential for the evolution of the human species, not exhibitionist performances at the detriment of male children.

Once again, Modern Family fails to emphasise the “modern” part of its title

Related: Modern Family is Anything But.

Image via Double Think.

TV: Guns on Glee.

glee shooting star

Apparent gun-toter Sue Sylvester sums up the phenomenon about guns in school best with her monologue about why she allegedly teaches at William McKinley High School armed:

“In light of recent events, I feel more safe with it in my office… The safety net of the public mental health system is gone. Parents are too busy working three jobs to look after them. And the gun yahoos are so worked up about Obama taking away their guns that every house has a readily available arsenal.”

In light of such recent events—namely the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, but after the past week in America, pick your act of mass violence, any act of mass violence—perhaps it was too soon for Glee to touch on this topic, so artlessly, might I add. But, with the U.S. Senate vetoing the implementation of background checks for prospective gun purchasers and the call for teachers to carry firearms in the wake of Sandy Hook, we need to be discussing gun safety more than ever. It’s just that Glee, what with its disjointed storytelling consisting of one part Brittany-thinks-it’s-the-end-of-the-world-so-let’s-turn-this-into-an-after-school-special-about-the-importance-of-telling-our-loved-ones-how-much-they-mean-to-us, one part truly affecting ten minutes of the New Directions kids cowering in the choir room as a gun goes off, didn’t do the issue justice. As always, the show has so much potential but fails to live up to it.

Later in the episode, it is revealed that Becky Jackson was the one who brought the gun to school, which sheds light on Sue’s remarks about mental health. Becky was one of the suspects I had in mind as the events unfolded, along with dejected Ryder and conspicuously absent Brittany, who arguably would have been better choices but, being Glee, of course they took the easy way out: give the mentally disabled kid the gun. (Apparently this is going to open up a discourse about Becky’s condition and background but in all likelihood we’ll probably never hear about it again.)

The anticlimax of the shooting all being a big misunderstanding reminded me of Dave Karofsky’s suicide attempt and Quinn’s car accident last season: all had the potential to shock audiences and talk about mental health, but Glee chose the easy, happy ending instead.

In Sue’s closing statement as Principal Figgins fires her, she says:

“An entire career of doing the right thing—winning… I sent Cheerios off to the Ivy Leagues. I’ve educated girls who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. They’re mothers… Gold medalists… I’ve coached two Grammy winners. An internet billionaire and a lesbian secretary of state [Hillary Clinton?!]. But all I’ll be remembered for is this one thing? It’ll be the first line of my obituary.”

And in so doing, she makes a pertinent commentary on American culture: “winning” is the “right thing”, and in so many instances, this involves the use of weapons: war, the upholding of the second amendment, phallic sports equipment as artillery, masculinity in general… I’m sure Glee was not intending to make such a statement, and thus it seems a little disjointed.

Another point I also don’t think they were trying to make, but was quite timely and humorous, was that of the shooting making Sue’s obituary. Let’s be real: the only thing that’s making her obit is her homemaking skills.

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee‘s “On My Way” Episode.

Elsewhere: [Wet Paint] Glee‘s School Shooting: Lauren Potter’s (Becky) Mother Opens Up.

[Daily Life] Defending Masculinity with Guns.

[Daily Life] Where Are All the Female Obituaries?

Image via YouTube.