Tonight’s Glee featured the much-hyped and/or much-dreaded hook-up between Sam and Brittany. It also featured not one, but two fourth wall-breaking moments in which Brittany addressed the concerns of the “lesbian blogging community.” Lesbian fan feelings were already at a tipping point leading into the episode — we’ve received more tips and complaints and pleas for coverage in the past week than ever before about Glee — but the meta weirdness fueled the fire even higher than we anticipated. So, I’ve asked three of our esteemed writers/vloggers to weigh in on tonight’s episode. We are, after all, the lesbian blogging community in question.
Based on the promos you saw and the spoilers you read and the fan reaction around the internet, what were you expecting from “Swan Song”? Was the episode better/worse than you thought it would be?
Elaine Atwell: How ’bout that Lea Michele, everybody? Seriously though, every Glee episode is like a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor beans, and for every delicious caramel solo, you run the risk of picking up an earwax in the form of the entire glee club punishing Marley for her eating disorder. This time, though, they threw in some actual arsenic. Just to mess with us.
Valerie Anne: When Ryan first tweeted the picture of Sam and Brittany in wedding garb, I didn’t think twice about it. I figured it was just RM trying to stir the pot and get us riled up, as he has done before. I figured if it was a big plot point, he wouldn’t have spoiled it. But then I saw the clip of them almost-kissing and I initially freaked out. After said freak-out, I calmed down, because I’m a delusional optimist and I also hate jumping to conclusions. So, as much as I actually like Sam and don’t want him to die, he’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for Brittana. The episode was better than I expected in that they actually tried to explain their choice of her choosing Sam instead of them just randomly making out. It was worse in the fact that I had really been hoping what I read wasn’t true and that they didn’t call out lesbian bloggers as though we were some kind of man-hating angry mob with torches and pitchforks. (I typed “bitchforks” at first. But I actually do have one of those.)
Dana Piccoli: Honestly, I do my best to avoid spoilers, mainly because I find them depressing. (This also reduces my stress level considerably.) Obviously it was impossible to avoid certain spoilers like when Ryan Murphy tweeted the pic of Sam and Brittany in their wedding garb. I tried to address the possibility of Bram situation in a recent vlogisode, because I knew something was brewing. Perhaps it’s just the optimist in me, but I really didn’t think they were going to go where they did with this.
Heather Hogan: I thought — forgive me — that it was going to be much ado about nothing. I’ve lived through so many fan-hurricanes stirred up by so many ridiculous promos and so much spoiler-y internet speculation that I’ve become quite jaded about the kind of roaring that starts a week ahead of an episode airing. But I was wrong this time, all the way around. The episode itself was really one of the best of the season. But the completely wackadoodle jab at the Lesbian Blogging Community was just so asinine and unnecessary. I find fandom rage and the entitlement that often accompanies it off-putting most of the time, but when a show treats a large portion its viewers the way Glee did tonight, how else are they supposed to respond?
Do you think it makes sense for Brittany to pursue a relationship with Sam? Is it in-character for her (as much as a Glee character can be considered to have any kind of consistent character traits)?
Elaine Atwell: In theory, although not perhaps in execution, I think Sam and Brittany would be a good couple (please don’t kill me). We all like to talk a big game about accepting bisexuals, but actually doing it, both in the real world and television, can be a challenge. It’s hard not to feel abandoned, but I think it’s better to acknowledge that feeling than deny it. We should also remember that Santana broke up with Brittany. I think it is completely within Brittany’s character to pick up the pieces of her heart and move on, as happens in actual real life.
Valerie Anne: Honestly, if I felt like Brittany was truly over Santana and they were both ready to move on, Sam would be the perfect choice for her. The only weird thing is that he did technically kind of date Santana, so I’m not sure she would go there. But she does feel close to him and he has been very sweet to her, so I don’t think her choice is as out there as, say, Artie, who treated her like a child from the get-go. And aside from the gross cereal-on-the-floor thing, their scene was actually almost kind of sweet? However, since Santana and Brittany’s breakup — the reasons for which were that they didn’t spend enough time together and it was too hard — the girls have been in the same room almost every episode and lustily gazing at each other and saying they missed each other. It doesn’t seem like either of them are ready to move on, though, so while I think the character choice was feasible, the timing of it was not.
Dana Piccoli: Do I find it feasible? Yes, considering Brittany still believes in Santa Claus and eats Cheerios off the floor. Nothing Brittany could do would surprise me. It kind of felt like Sam’s intense feelings came out of nowhere however. Like, they were buddies and it was cool and then BRAM — er, I mean BAM — he’s in love with her. I personally don’t have a problem with Sam as a character. In fact, I like the kid. Brittany has never made qualms about the fact that she likes guys and girls. If Brittany was going to date any of the Glee guys, I would rather it be Sam, I suppose. In Brittany’s defense, she gave Santana a way back to her during the “Glease” episode and she didn’t take it for whatever reason. Sometimes I try to put myself in the Finchel shippers’ shoes, because I’m sure they are not happy with the whole Rachel and Brody romance. Shipping can be a real bitch when your OTP is torn apart, no matter who that may be.
Heather Hogan: I do think it makes sense for Brittany to move on with Sam. And I also think there always would have been Brittana shippers who were pissed as hell about it. But of all the ways Glee could have done it, this way was one of the most unkind.
What did you think of Brittany’s meta-commentary about the lesbian blogging community?
Elaine Atwell: I don’t have “thoughts” about Britney’s quip so much as I have a swollen toe from when I kicked my desk really hard. It’s difficult to fathom this fan-baiting, and I for one take it very personally. This is an adequate channel for our rage, is what I’m saying.
Valerie Anne: I think it was a low blow. I feel like a schoolgirl who is being scolded. Like we’re being told our anger is foolish and we should calm down. Also, I think it was funny (not: funny haha, but: funny HA!) that Brittany said we should be OK because “love is love.” The phrase “love is love” is something we say to demand equality. To point out that it doesn’t matter who you love, your relationship should be respected in the same way. And yet, in this one episode, Brittany and Sam got more screentime, conversation, and one-on-one duet than Brittana ever had. THAT is why I feel slighted. And while I may process and keyboard smash and growl a little bit, I would never get violent with anyone. After all, as much as I love TV (and believe me, scripted television is my therapy), lesbianism is not actually a mental disorder. I am aware that TV is just fiction.
Dana Piccoli: DANA SMASH!!! Oh, my friends, this little vlogging troubadour is pissed. I was personally offended and that takes a lot. What it showed me was that Ryan Murphy and company wanted to make damn sure we knew what they thought of us. Had the scene just happened without all that “lesbian nation” nonsense, it wouldn’t have bothered me nearly as much. Would they have singled out gay men? Any other subset of Glee fans? I doubt it. This was a message. A loud one. One that took the onus off of themselves and put it on the lesbian shippers and fans. “Look at the angry lesbians, aren’t they so stereotypically angry!” Also, newsflash, Brittana wasn’t just important to lesbians. There are Brittana shippers of all orientations. It’s about power: the power to give and to take away, and I think that’s sad. I don’t think that the Glee folks realized how deeply important Brittana is to a lot of people. A reflection of themselves, finally. It was unnecessary, and if the intent was to cushion the blow, they did it all wrong. (Does that make me sound like an angry lesbian?)
Heather Hogan: Hands down one of the dumbest misplays I have seen in my five years of being a part of the Lesbian Blogging Community. It acknowledged that lesbian fans are going to have a hard time with this story development and pre-emptively ridiculed them for caring enough to express their feelings. Which is basically like dangling a shoelace in front of your cat and when it snatches at it, kicking it and going, “LOL, I knew you were going to attack that string, you asshole.”
Most Brittana fans I’ve heard from insist that they would be equally upset if Santana and/or Brittany were hooking up with another girl, that it’s not the bisexuality that bothers them, but the break-up of this specific couple. Honest opinion: If, say, Santana and Quinn got together, would there be this much outrage?
Elaine Atwell: I feel the pain so many of us are sharing right now. When you break up with someone you love, the thought of them kissing and touching, sharing even the smallest part of what you shared together, seems like the wrongest thing that could ever be. Brittana was THE couple for a lot of us, and it’s healthy to still be grieving for that relationship. But the fact that Brittany is moving on doesn’t invalidate or cheapen what that relationship means to us, any more than your new girlfriend can erase your old one.
Valerie Anne: As I said before, I don’t think either of them are truly ready to move on. “Energy exchange” shmenergy shmexchange. But if we had gotten some meaningful conversations between the two of them, or if their breakup hadn’t involved a song about NOT BREAKING UP, I personally would not have had a problem with Brittany’s next relationship being with a guy. They have established her bisexuality from the very beginning, so it wouldn’t feel like the “lesbian changing her mind” that some shows (*cough* The OC *cough*) go for. However, I can sort of see why some people would have had a problem with him being a guy and not another girl, unless Santana also started dating another girl at the same time Brittany started dating Sam. I think for some people, it’s the decrease in lesbian visibility, a category where people were already feeling slighted, and I feel that, too. But for others, I think it’s honestly the lack of closure. We waited so long for Brittana to happen, when it happened it was magical, and the Brittana we love would have been able to get through a little long-distance issue. Especially since last year’s seniors all seem to be able to teleport to McKinley whenever they darn well choose.
Dana Piccoli: I think that is definitely true for some and not for others. I’ve always seen Brittany as a free spirit who loves who she loves. She never shied away from the fact that she liked guys and girls. I like that about Brit. She is unapologetic, and just wants to be happy. It’s apparent that she’s been quite sad since the beginning of the season, and if happiness lies with Sam, I don’t personally begrudge it. That being said, I don’t think it’s completely irrational to not like the fact that it is a guy. Ok, there, I said it. The heart wants what the heart wants, and if the thought of your favorite queer character with a guy makes you a little heartsick, then own that. Sometimes you can’t control your feels. We ship so hard because we see pieces of ourselves in these characters. When these characters go in a direction that isn’t like the one we imagine for them, it can be a hard pill to swallow. Where I think the outrage comes in is the unequal treatment that Brittana has always faced vs Finchel or Klaine. Why wouldn’t you be ticked off when a couple who hasn’t even gone on a first date has more passionate kisses and dialogue than the couple you’ve been rooting for for three season?
I’ve had a hard time parsing the outrage about Brittany and Sam. Some lesbian fans are simply sad to see their favorite lesbian couple moving on without each other. Some are going as far as calling Glee‘s handling of Brittany and Sam “homophobic.” So if you had to choose one word to describe tonight’s episode, would it be painful, offensive, or harmful? How come?
Elaine Atwell: I absolutely think this episode was harmful to Glee‘s future as a show. To single out some of your most ardent, passionate fans, and publicly shame them for caring strikes me as a hell of a Kitty move, and wrecks their credibility as an adorable little underdog. As for us though, we’re a tough bunch (Right? Right.) and we thankfully live in a time when there are other shows that take much better care of our feelings, rather than treating them as the histrionic ravings of a fringe group.
Valerie Anne: This episode, as a whole, in one word: Bittersweet. It would have been a great one, overall, if these two things happened: 1. If there had been no mention of the lesbian internet community — our community. I think that Ryan thought he was splashing us with water to keep us from going up in flames of anger, but I think he accidentally mixed it with some gasoline first. 2. If we had gotten a Brittana scene where they talked about wanting to try to move on with other people (or, more specifically, with a fellow club-member), and Santana had given her blessing. I would have been very sad — devastated even — but if we survived Hurt Locker, we can survive anything. And so can they. I still haven’t given up on this show, guys. I won’t let the writers bully me into missing out on things like Rachel Berry’s performance of “O Holy Night” or Cassandra July’s abs or Sweet Marley Rose’s perfect face. I just won’t.
Danna Piccoli: Actually, I am going to say careless. Glee has been careless with fans’ hearts this season. That goes for the show across the board. Homophobic? No, I don’t think it’s homophobic. I think the way Ryan Murphy and the Glee staff choose to school its lesbian fan base was unkind and embarrassing. As in: they should be embarrassed. Listen, we live in social media dominated world. It has it’s upsides and downsides. When you are creating content to put out into the world, as we do, as Marlene King and Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy do, you must know that people will want to express their delight and displeasure. Some people are going to cross the line, some are going to be disrespectful. But the majority of fans just want to be part of this thing they love. It’s careless to use that against them.
Heather Hogan: I wasn’t expecting to be offended. It is very hard to offend me with cliched lesbian jokes, honestly. Yeah, yeah, ha ha ha. U-Hauls and flannel shirts and Lucy Lawless lovers. How original. But singling out lesbians as some kind of deranged, overwrought, psycho fans was pretty infuriating. Three years ago, I would have thought a blow like that would have given ammunition to straight viewers, but the most ironic thing happened tonight: Straight allies — of which there are about ten million watching Glee — were just as pissed off as lesbians. How’s that for equality! Also, that “love is love” thing has obviously always been a play on Gertrude Stein‘s “rose is a rose is a rose” thing, and I am very entertained in my own imagination thinking about what ol’ Gerty would have to say to Ryan Murphy.
Your turn, Lesbian Blogging Community: How did you feel about “Swan Song?”