The Glee Project, not so bad?
By Maya Brown
I’m not a huge reality show person for some obvious reasons; as a general rule, whenever women are involved they are always obsessed with how they look, who they’re in love with or which other woman they’re fighting against (America’s Next Top Model, Real Housewives, anyone?). So naturally I tend to stay away from them. However, there is one reality show that gets my seal of approval, and surprisingly enough it’s from the creators of Glee, the show that many feminists have a strained relationship with (Glee has become known for its oversexualized musical numbers, its stereotypical teenage girls and its move from quirky musical comedy to overdone, idealized portrayal of high school).
The Glee Project (TGP) centers around fourteen contestants competing to earn a reoccurring role on Glee. Each week the 18-22 year olds have to work with the vocal coaches, choreographers and directors of Glee to produce a music video. They are then evaluated on their performance all week, a bottom three is picked, those three do last chance performances, and the weakest one is sent home. Although this sounds like a pretty average reality show, full of obvious options for pitting girls against each other and appearance-obsessed drama, for whatever reason it manages to skip all of that and instead promotes some really positive messages.
Instead of a lot of reality TV shows, which are only looking for the most talented, prettiest or most desirable character, The Glee Project is looking for someone who would be believable and relatable on Glee. This means that a lot of the show focuses on individuality and standing out from the crowd. The directors of the show, instead of always picking the winners based on looks, actually admire the characteristics in the contestants that many members of the media tend to overlook. Girls who are overweight are commended for being themselves, girls who struggled with an eating disorder are admired for their bravery, and contestants of different religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and backgrounds are regarded as role models for other girls like them.
TGP rewards girls for being unique and staying true to their own identity. In a world where the media largely focuses on girls who all look the same, having a TV show strive to find girls (and boys) from a variety of backgrounds and identities is definitely something to be excited about.
Although Glee itself is often far from perfect, any TV show that actively pursues diversity is a win in my book. That’s why I really like TGP; because instead of producing the same cookie-cutter image of girls and women that the rest of the media perpetuates, it shows girls all types of real, healthy, and passionate young women.
The girls on TGP are not only diverse; they are great examples of women following their dream. They are all aspiring and very talented singers and actors. I understand that it’s a competition, but my secret hope is that they all make it onto the show, or at least into the more mainstream media. That’s exactly what girls and women need: a new generation of smart, driven, and unique role models to redefine what it means to be a girl.