Rita Koganzon has written a tremendously astute essay on the elitism of Glee, one of the year’s critical television favorites.
“Glee,” Fox’s hot new musical comedy, is set in a small town in western Ohio, and that is the source of everyone’s woes. Viewers should, of course, know better than to ask what specifically is wrong with small towns in western Ohio. What isn’t wrong with them? They’re bleak, boring, intolerant dead-end streets. The inhabitants of such places love football, marry their high school sweethearts, carry their teenage pregnancies to term, and while away their adult lives as assistant managers at “Sheets ’N Things,” or, worse yet, as high school Spanish teachers. The only thing for thinking people to look forward to in these prisons is finally escaping them for someplace where their talents will finally be appreciated and Glenn Beck won’t be blaring from the living room. And such thinking people, sometimes embodied as TV critics, have found in “Glee”’s cloying combination of underdog elitism and progressive cynicism a ballad that speaks right to their hearts.
This perception of Middle America plays a powerful role in our culture and our politics more broadly, and I often wonder about the outsized role played by Americans who “fled” these more rooted environments and continue to harbor an intense hostility towards them. Then again, I could be taking this too seriously.