Season 2 of Oxygen’s competition reality series, The Glee Project, premiered June 5th showcasing a diverse cast of new contenders.
This season’s cast includes a blind African American man, a disabled woman, a bi-racial trans man, a lesbian, and in all, four people of color, making the show one of the most diverse on television at the moment. In the casting call competition, contestants will sing, dance, and act their way to the top for a role on Fox’s popular series Glee.
Throughout Glee’s three seasons, the musical comedy-drama has tackled issues of sexuality, suicide, and typical teenage woes, and The Glee Project hopes to do the same by embracing a cast reflective of the actual show. Last season’s runner up, Alex Newell, gained the role of Wade Adams/ Unique, a transgender student from a rival glee club. The role was the first of such on Glee to highlight a transgender person and an African American.
Recently the POTUS, NAACP, rappers, and countless others have jumped on the ‘We love the gays’ bandwagon expressing their approval of same sex marriage. And while Glee and The Glee Project serve as a platform for LGBTQ visibility, it is questionable whether the writers are genuinely striving to shift visibility or simply just exploiting it.
For sure, since issues of sexuality, gender, and race are not discussed in most schools or households, addressing them through a visual medium has the ability to help people struggling with acceptance. The producers of Glee and The Glee Project appear to handle diversity with compassion and creativity, and have even attempted to intersect issues race, gender, and sexuality.
A Glee episode last season entitled, “I Kissed A Girl,” features Santana, the only queer female character of color, coming out to her abuelita. The conversation includes a mixture of Spanish and English and depicts how Santana’s queer identity intersects with her gender and ethnicity. Such a display of intersectionality is powerful because it reflects the experiences of queer women of color, an experience typically not depicted on prime time television.
Glee and The Glee Project are currently the only prime-time shows working to transform LGBTQ visibility for young people and it is up to us as the viewer to support their efforts. To some, the shows may appear to be overwhelmingly inclusive, but they also reflect our diverse society, proving we are not a monolithic people.
The show airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST on the Oxygen network and is the 4th season of Glee on Fox this fall. Did you catch this week’s episode of The Glee Project last night? What did you think?
Pop culture and media are a reflection of society’s politics as much as they can influence them. There won’t be more displays of real diversity unless people demand them. I’m curious to look into the Glee Project to see how people are depicted, and what qualities the competitors they chose possess.
I think it is good that Glee and the Glee Project are bringing visibility to the queer people of color community. It’s definitely starting to redefine the image that pops into people’s minds when they think about gay people. It’d be interesting to see how many more of these shows will appear or disappear in the future.