Is ‘Glee’ a Little Bit Racist?

By Jorge Rivas Dec 15, 2009

I’m a big fan of Fox’s "Glee." I saw the pilot episode a year ago and remember thinking, "Whoa. There’s a Black girl, a guy in a wheelchair, a goth Asian girl, a gay kid…." I marveled at the diversity of the cast. But thirteen episodes later, the "multiculturalism" is still on the sidelines, singing back up. Here at RaceWire we like to say that "it’s not about intent, it’s about outcomes." And if we scratch the surface of "Glee"…well, it’s a little bit racist. Check out PopMatters for a for a good look at why "’Glee’ a little bit racist?"

The odd thing is that Glee is probably among the most racially diverse shows on TV right now. There are 12 kids in the glee club that gives the show its name. By my count, there are seven white kids, two African-Americans, two Asian-Americans and a Hispanic girl. Throw in the fact that one of the white kids is gay and another is in a wheelchair and that’s the kind of line-up that wins tolerance awards, right? (And this doesn’t even take into account a couple more ethnicities represented in the school’s teaching ranks.) So what’s the problem? Quite simply, the show is about the white people. Exclusively. The writing staff has barely been able to come up with any dialogue, let alone a storyline, for any of the non-white kids. This leaves most of them with nothing to do but sing and dance in the group numbers. I noticed this in the first two episodes, but decided I should reserve judgment. But now, half a season has gone by and nothing has changed.

Take for instance the Hispanic cheerleader. As far as I can tell, she had no dialogue at all until episode 11 when she was given a couple of out-of-left-field lines about sexting. In fact, the only way I know that she’s Latina is that I looked up her online and found out her character’s name is Santana Lopez. Got it. Hispanic. Check.

Read "Is ‘Glee’ a Little Bit Racist?" on the PopMatters TV blog.