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A Black Eye for Glee: Series Hits New Low

by at . Comments

It looks like I got out just in time.

After nearly three seasons of reviewing Glee, I handed the job over to staff writer Miranda Wicker for last night's new episode, "Choke." How come? Readers had, understandably, grown tired of my repetitive criticism of the show I once loved - and, to be honest, I had grown tired of writing the same thing on a weekly basis.

Storylines come out of nowhere. Characters are underdeveloped. Episodes have been replaced by Public Service Announcements, and sloppy ones at that. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Tina Goes Goth

What does this photo have to do with domestic violence? Nothing. Exactly.

Now, after watching the episode and reading various opinions online, it's clear nothing has changed.. except the depths to which Glee has now plummeted as the result of a domestic violence storyline that was given woefully, insultingly short shrift.

Topics don't get much more serious than this, yet Glee treated Coach Beiste's black eye as nothing more than a C-plot, pompously thinking that merely touching on the issue should earn the series credit, a theme we've witnessed throughout season three, as Glee has dedicated bits of time to suicide (Karofsky), intolerance (Santana's grandmother) religion (Joe) and texting while driving (Quinn).

At best, the handling of these storylines is tone deaf. At worst, it's incomprehensibly degrading to those who have suffered through these situations.

I am far from alone in this assessment. Critics around the Internet have come down harder on this episode than any in recent memory:

You can’t demand we take seriously the issue of domestic violence then crack dubious jokes about its burly victim in the same breath. Especially just because she’s burly, writes Michael Slezak of TV Line.

Choke is a morally reprehensible hour of television, one from which the show may never fully recover. Glee can’t have it every which way when the subject matter is this serious. It just can’t. The show did a serious disservice to an important cause... Instead of patting itself on the back for daring to bring up the issue at all, Glee needed to think long and hard about what it wanted to accomplish long before it ever made it onscreen, writes Ryan McGee of HitFix.

The problem is that Glee has bought into the myth of its own importance so thoroughly that it thinks raising an issue, then explaining what you should do in that situation, then going off to have Puck draw awesome rocker demons on his history final, is an adequate way to discuss serious topics… You can’t just unlock Pandora’s Box and pretend it’s all good. You have to be prepared to deal with what you unleash, writes Todd VanDerWerff of AV Club.

These are just a few of the critical takes. What is YOUR take? Did Glee mishandle the topic of domestic violence?

 

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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it was just aimed at giving some screen time to minor characters, that's what side plot are for. Anyway, I don't think the viewers need to be baby-sitted all the time by scripted TV. People seems to try to put a lot on TV (I even read a columnist this week getting mad at Private PRactice for having bumper in Henry's crib). Scripted TV is scripted TV. It's not news or documentary, just to have a good time watching TV. And actually, I thought the domestict abuse was treaten in a realistic way (a lot of women, unfortunately, go back with their abuse husband). Glee characters (or any TV characters) are not role model, they are not real.

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Do teenagers really make light of domestic abuse like that? That sat really badly with me, Apart from Brittany and Sugar the other girls usually appear very worldly (apart from one-offs when like the sex-ed episode where they all had lobotomies), it was so out of character for the likes of Mercedes, Santana and Tina to think someone being beaten up was funny. Really sick, and even worse we have to hear Beiste tell them at the end they may have 'saved her life' (ignoring the fact she went back to the creep), how exactly? Sue and Roz were the ones who alerted her to the realities of domestic abuse, this episode just made me really lose respect for the girls (and believe me I have very little for them anyway these days).

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The domestic violence story: insulting! It was silly, ill-conceived, lazy, and was an insult to everyone who has ever been in a violent situation like that. I don't know where to begin. The Chicago song - awesome. That's about it. I'm not going to complain about this humanizing Sue, because we know her character and her response from last night is pretty well in character for a situation like this. But Roz? Really? I don't like her particularly, and it seems like this was just a way to get her and Beiste back into the story. What's more insulting is the way they ended it. They left it sort of in the air, in case they ever want to return to it again. The conversation between Sue, Roz, and Beiste concerning Cooter's abuse sounded like it was lifted directly from a TEXTBOOK or one of Emma's pamphlets. I hated everything about this part of the episode, and it really ruined what would have otherwise been a solid hour of Glee. Domestic Violence is a serious matter, and for them to randomly shove it into an episode and wrap it all up with song and dance just pisses me off.

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@Matt-I agree with you this time! I used to get annoyed with your negative reviews but this episode has brought Glee to the breaking point for me. I'm hoping that Prom-a-saurus and the Nationals episodes will make up for this. I'll definitely concede that the storyline revolving around Rachel and Kurt was amazing. We should have had more of this in the episode. Stories like this are why I fell in love with Glee in the first place. I was honestly shocked when Rachel choked, and as corny and sappy as it would be, I'm rooting for her to get into NYADA anyways. We've been building up to this moment, and for the first episode in ages it seems, I cared about the fate of a character. I have no complaints about that storyline. It was amazing. The domestic violence story: insulting! It was silly, ill-conceived, lazy, and was an insult to everyone who has ever been in a violent situation like that. I don't know where to begin. The Chicago song - awesome. That's about it. I'm not going to complain about this humanizing Sue, because we know her character and her response from last night is pretty well in character for a situation like this. But Roz? Really? I don't like her particularly, and it seems like this was just a way to get her and Beiste back into the story. What's more insulting is the way they ended it. They left it sort of in the air, in case they ever want to return to it again. The conversation between Sue, Roz, and Beiste concerning Cooter's abuse sounded like it was lifted directly from a TEXTBOOK or one of Emma's pamphlets. I hated everything about this part of the episode, and it really ruined what would have otherwise been a solid hour of Glee. Domestic Violence is a serious matter, and for them to randomly shove it into an episode and wrap it all up with song and dance just pisses me off.

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The only good thing is that they took for this plot character that absolutely didn't fit here. It was in thone "it can be anyone". There should be more said about it, if they really wanted to use it. Maybe later there will be some development in this matter, as Cooter is still in the picture. "Cell block tango"? Really?? I'm with Sue here - Glee ruined this song. With the way they treated such important topic I'm actually suprised that they didn't do "Kiss with a fist" by Florence + the Machine. That would better fit into joy of "Glee-world". Also Pucks dad just appearing out of nowhere?? Huge shortcut!

Blu

*cue Artie voice *PREACH! I was unfathomably torn. Because I knew what they were trying to do and yet it failed so miserably ...the storyline came out of nowhere. The subject matter was glossed over and mishandled instead of being tackled appropriately and tactfully. It wasn't granted the ...anything really, that ut deserved. Wedged between Rachel and Kurt whining about sequins and auditions and Puck's innappropriate sexual advances towards a teacher to get better grades. It was lazy storytelling and insulting to boot.

Chandelure

I'm only putting myself through this show which has become so horrible this season to see Ryan Murphy's revolutionary solution on how to keep the seniors around next year.
Does anyone else remember that Ryan claimed Season 3 will focus more on story and character development? Had I known it'll be this bad, I'd rather have the show do 6 songs each episode

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I no longer watch Glee... I am actually sad when I remember how blew away and excited I was about the 13 first episodes, thinking that it was so promising... It all unravelled from there. I was already a little disappointed by second part of season 1 and I held on through season 2 (despite many "rolling eyes"), thinking "it'll improve, won't it???". But then I gave up even watching the first episode of season 3. However, I was still reading your review that I always found really accurate, just to prove me right... Or maybe hoping I'd read "Glee's back" and I'd tune in again. It's a waste of talent caused by terrible writing

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SO agree. according to your website, cougar town and glee had a difference of viewing of less than a million people. so can someone PLEASE explain to me why glee gets all the praise, the awards, the automatic renewal, and cougar town, which is such a better tv show is probably going to get cancelled? I hate the networks.

Matt richenthal

@lilAngel: You don't see the problem with taking a very serious real-life issue, and making it a side plot? Do you think Ryan Murphy wants you to blow it off or take it seriously?
If the answer is the former, why is it there? If it's the latter, why is it given 5 minutes?

Glee Season 3 Episode 18 Quotes

I vowed not to speak with you unless William and Kate got pregnant, Liza passed, or unless one of us was in grave danger.

Rachel

I spent the weekend sending your photo to ivory poachers who could make an absolute fortune selling your enormous white teeth on the black market.

Sue

Glee Season 3 Episode 18 Music

  Song Artist
Glee cast cell block tango Cell Block Tango Glee Cast iTunes
Glee cast not the boy next door Not the Boy Next Door Glee Cast iTunes
Glee cast the rain in spain The Rain in Spain Glee Cast iTunes