Glee is a [Social] Science Fiction Show.

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Spoiler warning: If you haven't seen Glee, there will be spoilers up to Episode 9. Also, if you haven't seen Glee, what are you doing reading this? Go watch Glee now and report back here afterward!

Glee2.jpgI'm ashamed to say that this post has been knocking around in my head for about a month, and it's taken me this long to finally write it out. Either way, from the very first episode, I wanted to label Glee a fantasy show, but that never struck me as quite right. It wasn't until I watched the fourth episode, "Preggers," that I realized Glee was not fantasy, but science fiction. Social science fiction, to be exact...

In "Preggers," Kurt tries out for the football team in order to impress his flannel shirt wearing, Deadliest Catch watching, trucker hat sporting dad. The first three episodes had been peppered with Kurt making vague remarks about his father finding his secret stashes of sparkles, and how he had to "cover" for himself.

Of course, we assume Kurt's father is a typical disconnected, homophobic American father. However, when Kurt comes out to his father after the big game and his father says he's always known Kurt was gay and it's alright, it's one of the most poignant and memorable moments of the show.

It was also shocking.Glee1.jpg That's when I realized that Glee is not a fantasy, but a social science fiction.

Science fiction takes our reality then subverts it with blatantly unrealistic ideas that are based in science, rendering them somewhat plausible. This plausibility forces us to compare the two worlds, then reconsider and question the possibilities of the world we live in.

Glee does exactly that, but in social science terms.

Kurt, like so many kids, was afraid to come out for fear of the repercussions, but it turns out that his father knew him better than he ever realized. His father has always loved him no matter what. It was an incredible moment, and completely unexpected.

That's when I asked myself, why is it so unexpected and "unrealistic"? Why can't we live in a world where parents display this perfect acceptance of their child's unique talents and abilities? Social Science Fiction at work.

Then in this most recent episode, Kurt is reciprocally self-sacrificing for his father. Kurt is a diva, and proud of it. However, when it's his big chance to rip the spotlight from Rachel, he lets the light fade in order to give his father peace. Kurt and his father are so different, but they love each other so much and want nothing but to be there for each other. Again, such a shocking image, but why couldn't such two wildly different people--much less family--get along?

If that wasn't enough, Finn has a speech in episode 8, "Mash-Up," that sums up Glee's entire social science fiction ideology:

"Leaders are supposed to see something other people don't. They can imagine a future where things are better, Like Thomas Jefferson, or that kid from the Terminator movies.
I see a future where it's cool to be in Glee club.
Where you can play football and sing and dance, and no one gets down on you for it. Where the more different you are, the better."

Glee3.jpgA future where things are better. Glee shows us high school and post-high school careers as we know them, but they've tweaked it just enough to show a place where some things are better, where the jocks and cheerleaders are friends with the nerds, the emocore girl, the wheelchair kid, the choir nerds, the divas, the gay kid. Where the pregnant girl gets support, the Spanish teacher gets to live his life to the fullest, and even Sue Sylvester has a heart.

By no means is this world perfect, though. Quinn has lost the future she once aspired to and is buried under medical bills, relationships are still just as convoluted as have been and will be, and even though Puck comes through for his baby, it's through pot-laced cupcakes and stolen money.

True "perfection" is subjective and it would be boring anyway, but the intent is to make us examine our world and perhaps make it better in response.

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3 Comments

... Nur. Doesn't really explain why Quinn's parents are asses then, does it? :P

Oh no, that's even easier. I wrote this before "Ballad" aired so they didn't get any coverage in my post, but I have a LOT to say about them.

Quinn's parents are the older white conservative evangelical republican archetype (and in case you weren't sure from Quinn's comments, the father being ecstatic about catching Glenn Beck drove it home).

The father is an archetypal villain and an exaggerated caricature of people who (obviously) exist. I read a few recaps that were disappointed that the father's character was over-exaggerated, but I feel that falls exactly in line with Glee's MO. All of the characters start off as archetypes but with every episode, they've opened WAY up. Sue is the most blatant example, with her rage filled screaming and scheming, but when you see her with her sister it's absolutely amazing. Terri is neurotic, Emma is lovestruck, Ken Tanaka is The Football Coach.

So characters being archetypes is nothing new, and by having Quinn's father be such an ass, it throws Kurt's accepting father into even more amazing contrast. Quinn's father is currently cast as the villain, but it doesn't mean he's going to stay the villain, just as Kurt's father and Sue didn't stay villains.

Even better is Quinn's unsupportive mother who is more afraid of her husband than loving of her daughter. It was such an emotional moment for Quinn and it was even more heartbreaking than when her father kicked her out because you *expected* it from the father, but didn't see this coming from the mother. It also rips the bandaid off of some people's eyes to the truth that they may just be living.

I thought that was the most amazing part of the situation because the mother is another archetype and juxtaposed with Finn's mother who was concerned but completely accepting. Again the show asks you to examine your world, who are you? Which archetype are you? And are you truly happy that way?

....oh dang. You got me started. I could keep going, but I'll stop here.

Social science fiction!! I love it! That's my favorite type of film and TV, and I never had the correct words to describe it! Thanks for pinning it down. :) Here I was running around going, "Umm, I like stories about dysfunctional families and groups of people?..."

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