11 April 2012

‘Glee’-nalysis: Glass Closets and the Undead Quinn

Matt Bomer as Cooper Anderson.
Here, Cooper, a Hollywood actor, demonstrates “dynamic head shot poses”; a shame I didn’t see this a few weeks ago, when my godson was photographing me.

Glee returned with a new episode last night, and while I’m disappointed by the news that [plot spoiler] Quinn Fabray did not die in her car wreck, I was pleased by a number of other developments, notably those involving Sue Sylvester, the Gorgon cheerleading coach played by Jane Lynch. It’s as if the show’s writers made a solemn vow to do something with the character, and after nearly two full seasons of implausibility and aimlessness, Sue has been given a fresh start.

Her pregnancy delivers both laugh lines and legitimate emotional grounding, and her conflict with the synchronized-swimming coach, Roz Washington (NeNe Leakes), a worthy adversary, has raised the stakes even further. Suddenly, Sue has purpose and meaning, motivation and development: at long last we are not required to believe that a grown woman is devoting her entire life’s energy to thwarting a high-school glee club. She still fires off her trademark corrosive insults, but she’s a character again and not a cartoon villain.

The undead Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron),
bonding with Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale).

Or at least, that’s the case this week. Who knows what the future holds, on a show as scattershot as this one? And so, instead of dissecting the episode any further, I’d like to focus on the appearance last night of Blaine’s older brother, played by Matt Bomer, a man so handsome that his looks became a running joke last night.

Bomer’s character is named Cooper Anderson, in what must be a dig at a certain CNN anchor who’s the object of scorn and fury throughout the Internet for his coy refusal to admit publicly that he’s gay. He doesn’t deny it, either, and he’s hardly hiding his social life or his longtime boyfriend. The gay website AfterElton has even coined a useful phrase for his status: “the glass closet.” Everybody can see you, but you never come out. [Please see the update below.]

Poster boy for gay teens:
Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss)

So, whether you noticed it or not, the writers twitted America’s most visible closet case, lending his name to the brother of a character who’s the face of young gay pride today. (Or half of it, anyway: attention must be paid to the out actor Chris Colfer, who plays Blaine’s boyfriend, Kurt.) And just to stir up the pot a little further, the producers cast Matt Bomer — another resident of the glass closet, at least until recently. Bomer’s very existence has provoked gay bloggers and chatters just as acutely as Anderson Cooper’s still does. (An afterthought: would we care so much if either of these guys were ugly?)

This intriguing construct seems to have sailed right past many viewers, and it may have occurred by accident in any case. But it’s worth noting — and now I’ve done so.

Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester

UPDATE: Anderson Cooper has come out, as of 2 July 2012, in a message to columnist Andrew Sullivan. So I guess the glass closet is a little less crowded now. As part of the coverage of Cooper’s announcement, it’s been made clear that the term “glass closet” did not in fact originate with AfterElton and has been in use at least since 2007, in a number of publications; I regret my error (above).


Anne said...

I learn so much from you, Bill. From opera to soap opera, I count on you to explain it to me. You make me feel smart. I like that! Thank you!

William V. Madison said...

Thank you!