I Said My TV-Viewing Was Diverse

I’ve been watching “The Glee Project,” which is probably something an adult shouldn’t admit, but I have to say, thus far, it’s been better than “Glee” in recent days (as much as something without Jane Lynch can be better).

It does give a lot of insight into the show. And not the kind they likely intended.

For anyone who doesn’t know (which should be the majority of people reading this blog, not everyone is the TVee that I am. TVee? Like Foodie? Yes? No?), “The Glee Project” takes a bunch of “Glee” hopefuls and crushes their dreams one at a time in the way that’s been required ever since the first outcast got voted off the island. They get a homework assignment, they sing a song, they do a big video and sing another song–as I said, like “Glee,” only with lower production costs.

At the end of each episode, three underperformers are chosen to sing in front of the head deity of “Glee” himself, Ryan Murphy, where he opines on the reasons they shouldn’t be given the prize of a seven-episode arc on “Glee,” and how inspired he is to write for the individual actor.

Note I said “actor.” This part becomes important.

The first week, the first to go (after, as they noted, they auditioned 40,000 people, and came down to the 12 contestants) was Bryce, an impossibly handsome guy whose character was going to be a heartbreaker.

Oh right, I nearly forgot to tell you the most important part.

The “actors” had to create their character. They had to decide what role they would play if they were cast on “Glee.”

I found that a little strange. I mean, maybe I don’t understand how Hollywood works (well, obviously I don’t) but I do understand how writing works and generally you make it up, and then you write it. Sometimes you are inspired by actual people or events, but you usually don’t tell them to do the making-up for you.

So Bryce, a good-looking guy with a skin tone in the brownish range, got the boot the first week because he was “arrogant” and difficult to work with.

He’d asked the video director a couple of questions. And said that he didn’t think his character would do whatever it was he was being asked to do, but would do this instead.  I’m not really sure how you are supposed to both make up the character and not keep your character consistent, but I guess they were only supposed to make up the character enough. Not too much. Enough.

(Just as an aside, you may have noticed on “Glee” that the only African-American male regular is one of the bullies. There used to be a guy in the glee club who was mostly background, but he’s no longer there. Bryce’s character probably would have worked in well; as he pointed out, he’s never seen anyone on TV who looks like him. Ryan Murphy agreed, but then he was cut).

So week two found McKynleigh in the bottom three, and I just couldn’t figure out why. She’s beautiful, she’s got an amazing voice, and she seemed utterly professional.

They said she was boring, that she didn’t have enough personality.

Ryan Murphy said he didn’t know “how to write for her.” For my feelings on that topic, see above, part A: “Make something up.”

Did I mention that McKynleigh also is blessed in the melanin department?

It is particularly disturbing when a show like “Glee”–one that prides itself on its diversity, one that is based on embracing differences and making them the selling point, as they told 4’9” irrepressible contestant Matheus–doesn’t know what to do with an understated woman of color who is not overweight, who is not “sassy.” Why is a woman like that, a woman like many, many women I know, “boring,” or hard to write for?

Is it that they are just invisible?

If you ask one of my friends, she’d say that’s exactly what it is. Men don’t know how to react to her, this gorgeous, educated woman of color who doesn’t fit a single stereotype. And apparently Hollywood doesn’t know how to write for her.

It’s why Aisha Tyler, who is stunning, brilliant and hysterical, doesn’t have a sit-com. No one knows what to do with her.

So much for our “post-racial” America.



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