Warning: If you haven't seen this week's episode of Glee, your day is about to be spoilered to hell. You've been warned.
This week's Glee was All Madonna, using her powerful-woman-icon status as a way to raise some issues around feminism and sexism that you don't see too often (if ever) in prime-time network TV. Things like in this world it's easier to be a guy than girl (What It Feels Like for a Girl) and that communication is a powerful tool of respect (Express Yourself) and that Jane Lynch is indeed the funniest woman on TV (Vogue, like you've never seen it). They even talked about pay equity! You can read more at the Women & Hollywood blog, because that's not what I want to talk about here.
It won't surprise you that I'd like to rant a bit about their virginity storyline: The dramatic possible first-time sexual experiences of Rachel, Finn and Guidance Counselor Emma–and some of the same old same old about men and women and sex.
It centers around a pretty awesome version of 'Like A Virgin', above, which cross-cuts between three couples, three beds and three purple peignoirs. You can watch it at this link as well. Go ahead. I'll wait.
It's a really fun and sexy sextet which seems to capture all the nervous, ecstatic, hesitant, wild, revelatory, mixed emotions of having sex for the first time. Except, we eventually find out it's all a fantasy. Well, mostly.
Finn, the guy, does have sex (and props for his thoughtful post-sex denouement) and that’s the end of that. But neither Rachel nor Emma go through with it, and the show really telegraphs that it would have been such a big deal if they had. So now the drama of their sexual status can be dragged on for however many more episodes.
We're initially led to believe that Rachel had sex and didn't think it was really that big of a deal. This rang so true to me that I was actually angry when it was revealed that she was lying and hadn't done it after all.*
The three women are totally stereotyped: Virgin Rachel, Prude Emma, and Whore Santana [Who, as someone just pointed out to me, is also the Latina cheerleader. Oy]. The guys, on the other hand, don't seem to be categorized by their sex lives at all. Is it too much to ask to see a sexual female student on the show that's not fulfilling some kind of 'role' but just has sex as part of her normal whole life? It makes me nostalgic for the women of American Pie.
And while I'm happy that they portrayed an adult virgin – and loved that she instigated the date with Mr Schuester for The Sex – her later freak-out makes me wish she would just see a good therapist and stop being such an uptight embarrassing caricature. How did they miss giving her glasses she could remove when she finally gets sexed up? In her defense, has anyone else noticed that Mr. S is really kind of creepy looking?
As far as what the three couples actually did or planned to do, the implication is that it's all about the penises in the vaginas, like nothing worth mentioning would or could happen between the kissing and the screwing. And maybe, just maybe, could we have heard one syllable about how the gay students define virginity?
I've never warmed up to this show, and I have serious issues with the over-processed belted-out musical horrors it creates (this from a die-hard fan of musicals).
My outrageous fantasy is It's been confirmed that one day Joss Whedon will direct an episode of Glee. Given that my favorite television virginity loss is Buffy and Angel, it would have been amazing to see him take this one on as well.
*OK, maybe I'm just telegraphing my own painful crush on her boyfriend Jesse, played by the totally dreamy Jonathan Groff, because I'm sure I made it through high school a virgin only because I wasn't dating him.