Dear Ryan Murphy: Once more, with Glee.

By | February 9, 2011

The ship that launched a thousand fanfics.

Dear Ryan Murphy,

The last time I penned you a public missive, I had a few people observe that since you had not actually written the episodes of Glee that were receiving my rage, it was unfair to hold you responsible for every little thing that happens on your show. I beg to differ, given your Glee co-creator credit and your position on the tippy-top of the list of executive producers — so long as you are drawing the fattest paycheck for this series, I am going to hold your ass personally responsible even for minor wardrobe decisions. I just want to be clear on that.

However, if I am giving you credit for the negative I must also give you credit for the positive, and tonight’s episode, “Silly Love Songs,” had quite a bit of that. You did write this one, and having seen it, I think it’s safe to assume that you have plans for Lauren Zizes, but which none of the other writers understand, and so we wind up with a bunch of fat jokes in other episodes because how the fuck else do you write about a fat character, y’all? You write about how fat they are, of course! And what they eat.

“Silly Love Songs” begins with a lovesick Puck ruminating on his throbbing crush on Lauren, played by Ashley Fink (whom readers may also remember as Carter on Huge) with her usual tack-sharp comic timing. We get a behind-the-scenes look at their broom-closet makeout sesh — for those who haven’t been watching the show, it was by promising Lauren the fabled seven minutes in heaven that Puck convinced her to join the glee club in a prior episode. It turns out Puck is a lousy kisser (psshhht, I could have predicted THAT) and Lauren blows him off after only three minutes, explaining, “Yeah, you’re not turning me on at all.” Puck is bewildered and enamored. We hear his internal monologue as he stares at Lauren in class, “Maybe it’s because she’s constantly insulting me, like my mother. Maybe I just dig a chick with curves… I am in love with Lauren Zizes.”

The “curves” comment can be forgiven, annoying euphemism that it is, because Lauren is not actually “curvy”. She is portrayed by the awesome Ashley Fink and Ashley Fink is Hot Motherfucking Death Fat, man. This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, her fatness is not fooling around. I simply don’t see many fats so close to my own stature in a permanent role on TV, and it makes me almost deliriously happy. So I’ll let Puck have his “curvy” assessment, because as much as I’d like to hear the word “fat” in a value-free context, it may take awhile before we can call the fat folks fat and have it be no big thing.

Later, in the glee club room, the name of which I would probably know if I watched the show more regularly, we get some tension between Lauren and Santana. Lauren calls Santana a bitch, and Santana asserts, “I’m sorry, but you have just got eyes for my man.” Puck indignantly notes that he is not “her man”, and in the hallway afterwards, Lauren begrudgingly thanks him for sticking up for her. A starry-eyed Puck tells her he knows she is thirty-two flavors of badass and when Lauren agrees, he seizes upon the moment to ask her to dinner for Valentine’s Day. Lauren: “You seriously think it’s that easy? I’m not desperate, so if you really want this, you best come correct — because I spell woman Z-I-Z-E-S and I need to be wooed. You understand me? Wooed.” You can almost see the little hearts circling Puck’s big dumb head. Fat ladies are rarely portrayed in media as anything other than sad and self-loathing so Lauren’s bravado is impressive and likely a total mindfuck for many viewers, but is it bluster? In this episode, if not in any episodes prior, she reads as a remarkably confident young woman who knows she deserves to be treated with respect, and who isn’t about to settle for whatever attention she can get. My worry, of course, is that this is will all be a facade, and I don’t want Lauren to be a facade — I want her to be tough and sharp and smart for real.

Puck’s first effort at wooing Lauren is to use this week’s glee club assignment — choose and sing a “great” love song, says Mr. Schuester, who is wonderfully absent from most of this episode — to serenade her with Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls”.

I am generally opposed to Queen covers, because you are not Freddie Mercury, young man, and you never will be, but this particular song is topical and Puck (sorry Puck-playing actor, I forget your name) does a surprisingly capable job with it. While he sings, Mr. Shuester rolls his eyes as though he knows a little something about the fairer sex, pal, and telling a lady she’s fat ain’t going to cut it, while the other ladies of Glee look shocked and dismayed, not so much at Puck’s clear affection for Lauren as the way he is apparently making a mess out of things. The subtext of this scene is that we’re all supposed to get that Puck is fucking up here, rocking though the performance may be.

The song ends and the rest of the glee club conveniently files out of the room for no apparent reason. Puck approaches Lauren, explaining that this was his love song to her! He notes that she is “on the heavier side, but I’m kind of into it!” Though I have never found Puck (nor the actor who plays him) to be particularly appealing, his tenative chubby-chaser enthusiasm is adorable and even charming. Lauren says, “That was the first time anyone sang me a love song.” Pause. “And it made me feel like crap.”

Wait, WHAT?

Lauren’s response was baffling to me upon first viewing, as I missed the other characters’ reactions during the song, distracted as I was by the audaciousness of having the stereotypical hot-guy character sing “Fat Bottomed Girls” as a sincere compliment to the fat girl. Frankly, it’s still baffling to me now, because while I’m not saying I would instantly give it up to any guy who serenaded me with Queen, I would certainly be moved to think the prospect over. It’s fucking Queen! It’s fucking “Fat Bottomed Girls”! Give the fat girl some taste, Ryan Murphy, won’t you?

Shortly thereafter we come to the inevitable Lauren/Santana showdown, in which Santana gets her comeuppance via a totally gratuitous altercation in the hall. I can only assume you meant the violence to come across as slapstick, with Lauren literally bouncing Santana off lockers, but it’s actually a little uncomfortable. The best thing to come of this scene is in the lead-up to the fight, when Santana calls Lauren “Poppin’ Fresh”.

I intend to start calling all of my fat friends “Poppin’ Fresh” because it is the most hilarious fat-based taunt I have heard in recent memory. Santana winds up dragged off to the school nurse, and when Lauren turns to Puck to retrieve her glasses, he is so hot for her he blurts, “Please go out with me. Just… please.” Lauren tells him to “make a formal presentation, and I’ll consider it.”

Later, we come upon Lauren and Puck in the library, and when Lauren asks when Puck intends to properly ask her out, he says, “I sang to you.” Lauren: “An offensive song.”

WHOA WHOA WHOA WHOA. WHOA. You watch your mouth, young lady. Queen is never offensive. Ryan Murphy, I am baffled. I simply do not buy that Lauren would be offended by this — her character has thus far been incredibly secure and it would be fitting that someone like her might be fine with the word “fat”, or with other people noticing that she is fat, because she is fat, and that is kind of the point, isn’t it? That the stereotypical hot guy is into the fat girl, that this is not something we see on television and not something we see in real life either, probably not because it never happens but because no matter how much you might like a fat girl, the taunts of your peers are probably not worth making your feelings known. Your choice to have Lauren respond to this in a negative way undercuts a huge part of the potential good you’re doing — just let Lauren be fat, let her know it, and let her be consciously okay with it.

[Edited to add: It has occurred to me after a bit o' discussion that the "Fat-Bottomed Girls" issue could be alternatively interpreted as Lauren setting her own boundaries, and not appreciating Puck's assumption that she would automatically respond to that song in a positive way. This would suggest that a dude should find out more about Lauren to figure out what song she would find most appealing, rather than take the leap that any song about fat girls would suffice. However, Lauren's condemnation of the whole song as offensive ("An offensive song"), ostensibly in any context, may contradict such a reading. Of course, this whole scenario would be less murky if you, Ryan Murphy, had been arsed to give Lauren a single fucking line explaining why she thinks the song is intrinsically offensive.]

Lauren tells Puck, “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly,” which is cute but ultimately perplexing — is she okay with her size or not? Puck says, “Let’s be honest, you look… they way you look. I’m embracing that. I mean, it turns me on, babe.” Lauren retorts, “I look like America looks. And like America, I need more than just a song to get my juices flowing.” This was the point, Ryan Murphy, where I sighed heavily and wished you had seen fit to workshop this scene with me. Or, better yet, just let me write the character. “I look like America looks” is pithy and meant to be all “unskinny-solidarity, fuck yeah!” and I get that, but it’s also awfully patronizing, bro. Death fats actually only comprise a very small percentage of Americans and you know what? We don’t have to be in the majority to warrant being awesome people who deserve to be treated like respectable humans. This exchange just fell so flat to me, Ryan Murphy. I like to be represented, but I don’t like to be patronized. Learn the damn difference, man.

We never do find out exactly why Lauren found the song offensive, but when Puck kneels and, brandishing a ring pop, formally asks for a date, she consents and sends him on his way. But then, inexplicably, she stands him up. When he confronts her in the hallway the following day, she seems to have forgotten about it. Puck says, “Look, I get it, you’ve been hurt by guys before, but I’m not like that!” Lauren is correctly dubious, and explains that she’s not looking for someone to just mess around with, so if Puck wants to pursue her he’ll need to take it “slow”.

There’s a lot of positive stuff here, Ryan Murphy, even if these characters and this hypothetical relationship is still awfully uneven and contradictory — one minute Puck is openly appreciative of Lauren’s looks, the next he saying, “I’m not into you because you… have curves” but that he actually likes her for her tough demeanor. Can’t it be both? Of course, it wouldn’t be Glee if you didn’t hit some sour notes as well, the most obvious being the fact that Mercedes, another fat character, though less fat than Lauren, is pretty much ignored as a potential love interest in this and every other episode I’ve seen. Not to get too academic on you, but constantly forgetting the fat black female character when everyone else is elbow-deep in romantic entanglements is uncomfortably close to a desexualized mammy stereotype for my taste. I doubt this is intentional, but it’s weird, and off-putting, and extremely obvious.

I’m glad you’ve taken my prior criticisms to heart, Ryan Murphy, and the truth is, rewriting fat stereotypes on television will inevitably be an awkward process. There are literally decades of assumptions to unpack, and it’s not going to happen in a single show or even a single season. But in this episode, we have forward movement, rather than the reliance on tired old caricatures that we’ve seen before.

So I am happy to say you’ve made a good start, and I hope you continue on this path in the future. If my site analytics are anything to go by, your viewers are really interested in whether Ashley Fink will be getting any solos, as they’re googling the question a whole lot. Let’s deliver on that soon, yes?

Sincerely,
Lesley Kinzel
Erstwhile Glee watcher, Death Fat, and compulsive critic.

PS: A note to my beloved non-US readers — I know you cannot watch the Hulu videos I have included here, and that makes me very sad. Unfortunately, there is no other [legal] resource for this episode that is viewable outside the US. If you google around, you may find some disreputable lawbreaking sites that will enable you to watch — but I didn’t tell you that.

PPS: Also check out this marvelous interview with La Fink on TV Squad: “Seth Green has been my ultimate celebrity crush — well actually it was Raphael from ‘Ninja Turtles’ but then I realized I can’t.” This is where I go all <3HEARTS<3, it’s true.


86 Comments

Shieldmaiden1196 on February 9, 2011 at 12:14 pm.

‘Hot M-Fing Deathfat’ is officially my favorite description ever. I ‘put it on a t-shirt’ love it.
We don’t have TV unless we bother with Hulu so I’m kinda behind on Glee. I knew they were going there with this storyline and I’ve almost been afraid to watch it because I’m afraid they’ll ultimately just not get it and we’ll get the same tired stereotypes that the nonfat are comfortable with.

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Zoe Danger Awesome on February 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm.

I don’t watch Glee, so I really have no opinion, but I must say I have a massive (hehe) crush on Ashley Fink.

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Lesley on February 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm.

As do I. As do I.

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sarah m. on February 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm.

I get where Lauren is coming from. When I was a young deathfat my fervent wish was to find someone who loved me for me, despite how I looked on the outside. For various reasons, I figured either no one could be attracted to me *or* the ones who were were fetishists and to be avoided at all costs. So her whole “love me b/c of me, not my body” rang true to me.

I would have liked her to be all ‘fuck yeah, fat power baby’, but as the character is a teenager, I can totally see the confusion about “Yeah I’m a bad ass” and “my body isn’t all I am”.

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M on February 10, 2011 at 10:53 am.

This is how I saw it, too, and it rang true to me, too. Lesley, you yourself referred to chubby-chasers – I can totally get that she would feel he had some ulterior motive that wasn’t necessarily about her without the whole thing meaning she was fundamentally uncomfortable with herself. And even those who are the most self-confident have moments of uncertainty.

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LucindaLunacy on February 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm.

I was both excited and nervous going into this episode and you pretty much pointed out the sour notes that I had noticed too. I have no idea why she would have seen that song as “Offensive” at all. The only thing that would make that work for me is perhaps she felt it was objectifying her or something. But really, should any of them expect anything less of a character like Puck? I also do not understand her just standing him up. Some of her character was just very confusing and I am an avid Glee watcher.

One of my friends was disappointed that Puck didn’t serenade her with “Big Girl, You are Beautiful.”

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Rebecca on February 11, 2011 at 9:44 pm.

My sister said the same thing about the Mika song, but I think Puck would be too worried about his appearance as a bad-ass to sing it.

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a.b. on February 14, 2011 at 5:35 pm.

Thank you! My jaw dropped when he sang this to her, as he couldn’t seem to make a single comment about her without the phrase “dig your curves” or mentioning her body. Ick ick cik. What’s next, Mercedes’ love-interest singing “Brown Sugar”? I thought it was pretty offensive.

The Mika song would have been so much better. The Queen song not only focused on her weight, but on a specific part.

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Zanna77 on February 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm.

What’s funny to me is that Puck was previously into Mercedes and also appreciated her “curves” but also her popularity as she was at that time a a Cheerio (cheerleader). So Puck’s appreciation of non-standard beautiful women has some background. A rarity in the Glee-verse!

I thought maybe (MAYBE) Zizes hated the song because she does not want to be objectified for being fat, but simply loved because she is a total smart-alec bad-ass who is on a full-ride to many prestigious colleges because of her Greco-Roman wrestling talent and her running the AV club. But I agree that scene was like, “meh-meh sad trombone” in an otherwise pretty cool episode.

Coincidentally I watched Community today to via the Hulu and they seemingly introduced a character called “Fat Neil” to teach everyone an important lesson or some such. It was a weird off-putting episode and not up to the standard I expect from Community.

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Mandy on February 9, 2011 at 6:44 pm.

I’ve never commented on here before, but I just had to. “Meh meh sad trombone” just made my effin’ day. Especially because I just played the obnoxious brass thing an hour ago.

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Zanna77 on February 12, 2011 at 6:17 pm.

Aww! Thanks! That’s something my friends and I have been saying since High School when one of the friends briefly dated a trombone player. We dated the entire horn section testing for the strength of their embouchure. :)

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Blondeez on February 9, 2011 at 12:32 pm.

I read Lauren’s annoyance with the song a little differently. She isn’t ashamed of being fat, but she doesn’t want Puck’s fascination with her to be a fetish–she doesn’t want to be reduced to *just* the fat girl, even if she’s the fat girl he wants to date. Her looks aren’t irrelevant, but they are not the total of who she is, which is why she’s more receptive when he tells her that her badassery is hot (as well as him still being into her “curves”).

Also, while I think the song is awesome, thinking back to high school even the proudest fat girl would know that other people would assume the song was mocking, rather than admiring, her physique.

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Lesley on February 9, 2011 at 12:37 pm.

I hear this, I do, but my reaction just keeps on being flailing hands and yelling, “BUT IT’S QUEEEEEEEN!”

And I suspect you’re right, that the intention was to portray Lauren as a whole person, so to speak, but I still think it could have been accomplished in a clearer way than this — why not have Lauren explain her offense? It would have helped.

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Zanna77 on February 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm.

Agreed. Also I live in dread that we find out later she was paralyzed by fear and eating ho-hos by the boxful when she was supposed to go out with Puck. I mean, I can practically see the flashback already. OMG.

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Lesley on February 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm.

YES THIS. Oh man, I can see that shit happening too. They better not.

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Blondeez on February 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm.

This would be ten million kinds of wrong. I could see it happening, though, too.

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Jackie on February 9, 2011 at 7:18 pm.

I think the “whole person” line is probably where it was going, but we never have the discussion of the “whole person-hood” of any of the other characters. In this episode alone Rachel asks Finn if Quinn is prettier than her. It’s not like Finn’s answer is “no, I really like who you are.”

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kbryna on February 9, 2011 at 12:55 pm.

AND YES! I also wrote my lil bloggy open-letter to Glee about the way Lauren had been presented initially, and so I was over the moon with last night’s episode. This is partly due to my own personal undying lust for Puck/Mark Salling which is purely physical and is entirely about the objectification of the male of the species for my Gaze-y pleasure. So to have MY hottie going after the Fat girl is like dream come true!

I loved that Lauren pushes back so hard against Puck’s efforts. She knows him, she knows who he is, and she also knows who SHE is and she’s going to make him work for it. Which I love. This is a girl who has the guts to *stand him up* – and Puck’s made it clear that he’s never been stood up before. Other girls wilt in his footsteps; Lauren disdains to even notice he’s passed by. But we know she likes him.

I think part of her problem with “Fat Bottomed Girls” is that it’s pretty raunchy; it’s a lust song, NOT a love song. And when you’re 16 or 17, you don’t necessarily want public lust songs; even the fiercest of badasses would probably prefer something a little more “you’re awesome” than “i want to screw you.”
What I liked most about this episode is this, which you describe: “You can almost see the little hearts circling Puck’s big dumb head. ”

Because YES. And they’ve set it up – I’ve seen the little hearts around his head in a couple of really quick reaction shots in other episodes, when Lauren unleashes her badass awesome. And the fact that it is OBVIOUS that Puck has hearts around his head for the fat girl makes me happier than many things in this grim world. At first, in this episode, I was worried – is this going to be exploit the fat girl week? But those little hearts, that moment in the hall when Puck is reduced to BEGGING “just go out with me? please?” – he’s in it for real.
If the writers skip out on this storyline, I’ll be furious. As the ever-wondrous (and anti-body-snarking!) Tom & Lorenzo wrote this morning, if they don’t keep the storyline going “then this was a stunt and frankly, one at the expense of a plus-sized character; an extended fat girl joke. If they DO have the balls to take this all the way, then we’ll respect them for doing it.”
Ditto that.

And LOVE that interview with Ashley Fink! Holy crap she’s an awesome badass in real-life, too!

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Lesley on February 9, 2011 at 1:55 pm.

WRT to Puck working for it: It has occurred to me that the “Fat-Bottomed Girls” issue could be alternatively interpreted as Lauren setting her own standards, and not appreciating that Puck would just assume that she would respond to that song in a positive way. This would suggest that a dude should find out more about Lauren to figure out what song she would find most appealing, rather than take the leap that a song about fat girls would suffice.

Hmm.

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Shaunta on February 13, 2011 at 5:02 pm.

You mentioned in your recap that the other girls in the room, and even the teacher, were uncomfortable about Puck singing that song to Lauren. I noticed that, too. And I remembered how it felt in High School to be that uncomfortable, unsure whether it is okay to think something is cool when everyone around you thinks it’s not. So, I took her rejection of the song as her feeling weird about everyone else acting weird about it. If that makes sense. She’s a teenager and super confident as it is. It makes sense that there might be a crack in that every once in a while. I didn’t read it as being about Puck at all, but about these other girls who she has to be confident to be around. Maybe? IDK.

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Rebekah on February 9, 2011 at 1:20 pm.

I assumed she found the song offensive because it’s about a guy whose “naughty nanny” taught him a few things “before [he] left [his] nursery” and had a thing for large women ever after. I love Freddie Mercury, but I’m with kbryna on this one; it’s a lust song. Words matter, so lyrics matter.
If a dude strolled up to me and sang “Hey baby, you remind of of my babysitter and I’m tired of blue-eyed floozies, so let’s knock boots,” I wouldn’t react much differently than Lauren.

But then, I don’t like “My Funny Valentine” for similar reasons; and boy was THAT scene strange.

There’s no pleasing some people. =)

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Lesley on February 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm.

Maybe I was an unusually lustful teenager, then! :)

The “My Funny Valentine” scene was SO bizarre! What the hell was up with that? I kept wondering if it was referencing something in a prior episode that I just didn’t get.

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LucindaLunacy on February 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm.

She did say something earlier after singing back up that she was so in love that she could burst into tears. I thought they were trying somehow to reference that she was just tends to be over emotional.

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Adrian on February 9, 2011 at 8:33 pm.

Sad because I love Tina!! Since she was so over the Asian thing (and kinda Mike) earlier in this season, I’m really surprised about her “so in love” comments. I wonder what they’re planning for her.

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thirtiesgirl on February 9, 2011 at 8:43 pm.

Yep. That was supposed to be a representation of Tina’s assertion that she’s “so in love with Mike, she could cry.” I really don’t get this subplot, though, since Tina never really seemed to be that into Mike before. I assumed it was just a physical attraction, whereas Artie was her true love. …Then again, I’m *way* too into this show, so I’m probably missing some perspective.

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MadGastronomer on February 10, 2011 at 8:56 am.

Plus it opens with, “Are you gonna take me home tonight?” I was pretty sex-positive in my teens, but somebody I wasn’t even willing to go on a date with singing a request that I screw him that night would not exactly have gone down well.

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Shannan Anderson on February 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm.

I have been lurking on your blog for a while and have been waiting all day for your take on this Glee episode. I agree with so many of your insights but as a past “Lauren type” high school-er I would have beat the shit out of Puck for singing that song to me. (and I adore that song). I never wanted to be set apart because of my fat. I knew I was fat and so what? I would have wanted a love song that wasn’t about my body but about the whole of who I was and why that was the reason for his admiration.
As for Lauren’s badass attitude being a facade, everyone one of us, in high school, put up some kind of front. None of us(even ny skinny counterparts) knew who we were and we all just wanted to be accepted. Even the proudest fatty has a moment of doubt and self loathing. Life just does that to us and it’s okay to show the vulnerability of even the most awesome bad ass. What will be important for Glee is to show that we all get through it. We find love, we make love, we break hearts and get our hearts broken. We find our inner strength and move forward more empowered and stronger for it.

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Lesley on February 9, 2011 at 1:26 pm.

I agree! But I feel like this often runs into caricature territory with fat characters. I want Lauren’s badassery to be legitimate. She can certainly have moments of doubt — as you rightly note, everyone does! — but the usual course for this sort of character is we find out they’re secretly filled with self loathing to the point that everything we see from them is supposedly an act, and I don’t want that for Lauren.

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Kate on February 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm.

I’m glad you took on this episode, I really wanted to hear your opinion. My ultimate problem with this episode and so far all the storylines regarding Lauren is her constant eating, it bugs me so much that I have trouble even watching, even though I love cheesy musicals.

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Lesley on February 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm.

I think I can stomach (HAAA!) the constant eating so long as they balance it with Lauren having a personality beyond that of a garbage disposal. I think it bothered me less in this episode because eating wasn’t all she did.

Also, for whatever reason I found the way she said “muffin basket” totally hilarious.

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Zanna77 on February 9, 2011 at 2:39 pm.

Actually the constant eating thing was a behavior that was super common among the wrestlers in my high school, as was the wearing of plastic clothes and constantly spitting into cups, anything to stay in a certain “weight class”. I wonder how many boys (because they were ALL boys back in my day) got themselves a nice little ED after all of that nonsense? But I digress, when I view Zizes eating and exercising through an athlete lens it offends me less.

Also, WORD, “muffin basket!” That girl has some comic chops!

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kbryna on February 9, 2011 at 11:11 pm.

Zanna –

I was friends with a guy in high school for awhile who was on wrestling, and was at the high end of his weight class or whatever, so when wrestling season was on, he would eat like a single leaf of iceberg lettuce at lunch – he was supposed to work to get his weight down so he’d be in the high end of his class, not the low end of the next one up. The way he behaved then was SO disordered; it was upsetting to me to watch then, and in retrospect, now that I know so much more about eating and food and mental health, I would be shocked if he DIDN’T at some point develop more serious eating disorders.

This episode showed Lauren eating far less than previous episodes have, which I’m taking as a good sign.

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Rebecca on February 11, 2011 at 9:52 pm.

I kind of loved the fact that she was eating those candies in front of all of her classmates. I don’t want to see her hide in a stall nibbling the crackers. I loved that she showed no shame in it.

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Zanna77 on February 12, 2011 at 6:19 pm.

I’ve never understood how/why wrestling coaches are allowed to tell their players to DO that crap, you know?

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Kat on February 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm.

Honestly, she’s a wrestler, she might have to keep at weight. I had friends who during season were ALWAYS eating. Especially because she’s now doing wrestling AND glee rehursals so she’s doing a lot of working out.

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Veronica on February 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm.

Oh, *that* was what the other kids’ reactions during Fat Bottomed Girls was about, didn’t understand that at all. I did wonder if that song would be welcomed, since it has the word “fat” in it, but I too was very surprised by how poorly she took it. If I hadn’t seen the picture of the “fat bottomed” girl on the bicycle, and found her not fat, I can see myself being offended by having this song sun to me in my pre FA days.

I’m really nervous about how this is going to develop too. With such a strong reaction to something that was meant as a compliment, it seems very plausible that her confidense is in part a facade. :(

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Katie on February 9, 2011 at 2:23 pm.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I didn’t like the “Fat Bottomed Girls” serenade in this context (not that the song isn’t amazeballs!) and I think I’ve almost hit on it. I think Lauren is dealing with the same thing every fat girl – no matter how accepting they are of themselves – deals with when it comes be being asked out (and is a lot like a conversation a fat friend and I had this weekend):

I don’t want someone to want me only because I’m fat. I also do not want someone to like me despite the fact that I am fat.

It’s a really hard set of lines to live in between, and hell, maybe it’s not even a realistic one. God bless any dude who wants to hit on me. But, for the whole episode, Puck teetered between these extremes, from singing a song that says “hey, fat girls get me hot!” to basically saying “it’s okay that you’re a big girl – I like you anyway.” At the end, when Lauren hears “I like you because you’re the only person at this school more badass than me,” she’s finally getting an inkling that he likes HER, likes something about her that is not related to her body type, and only then is enough for her to say “okay, maybe this one wants to get the know the real me” and agree to a proto-date (because she still doesn’t want to get hurt, lets take this slow).

Like Groucho said: “I don’t want to be a part of any club that would have me as a member”. As a fat girl, I struggle with the idea that “If you are sexually attracted to me, when I look like this, there is something wrong with you”. Basically, Lauren had the same reaction I would have, if a cute boy had sung that to me in high school. Maybe it’s not as “WOO HOO FAT ACCEPTANCE” as it should be, and maybe she shouldn’t care about Puck’s motivations for being into her, but how many kids are fully accepting of themselves in high school? I sure as hell wasn’t.

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Lesley on February 9, 2011 at 2:32 pm.

I don’t want someone to want me only because I’m fat. I also do not want someone to like me despite the fact that I am fat.

You distill this down really beautifully here.

I think my confusion comes from the fact that Lauren DOES seem unusually self-accepting to me, if only because it requires a certain degree of self-acceptance and confidence in order to demand proper treatment from a potential suitor. I also think there’s conflict in the idea that she doesn’t want to be objectified, and yet that’s exactly how she has related to Puck prior to now. It’s hardly uncommon for teenagers to be hypocrites, but I think it’s a little odd if she’s offended on that basis, because she certainly seems smart enough to know the score.

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Katie on February 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm.

Thanks for the reply, Lesley!

I think part of what we’re seeing at work here is not a failing of Lauren Zizes, but of the writing on Glee. I think that a Lauren who has complex – and sometimes contradictory – feelings about herself and her body is a much more interesting character! Sadly, all we have to draw on is her previous appearances on the show, which have been very “fat grrl power”, but also very abrasive and one-note. It’s true that the Lauren we’ve seen is pretty smart and definitely strong, but she’s also addicted to candy and nearly a walking fat joke in a few cases, so I wasn’t thrilled overall.

I like this version of Lauren a lot – she’s tough, but she’s still struggling with how being seen as a “Fat Bottomed Girl” makes her feel. She could still be an amazing advocate for fat acceptance – I can’t think (outside of Huge *moment of silence*) of any characters on TV who are in the midst of learning how to fully love themselves in all their fat glory. Now I just hope the writers don’t screw this up…

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Elisa on February 10, 2011 at 1:04 am.

To be honest, I didn’t really see what Lauren was doing as demanding proper treatment from a suitor because she has a certain degree of self-acceptance and confidence. I saw it as a self-defense mechanism against someone she knows to be a cad and who she does like in some way and therefore has the power to hurt her. Despite her line later to Puck about “What makes you think I’ve been hurt,” I really just can’t imagine her NOT having been hurt by virtue of the fact that she lives in this culture. Maybe I’m self-identifying with her too much as a fellow death-fat — I dunno.

I want her to be a strong, badass and self-confident character but not at the expense of giving her character some depth, even if it means succumbing to stereotypes. And I think she can be self-confident in other aspects of her life and deal with her romantic life with a lot of bravado at the same time. I do think she wussed out on the pre-date with Puck — I don’t think she was necessarily stuffing her face with ho-hos and it may have been less of an emotional freakout and refusal to go and more of a weighing the chance that he might stand her up or somehow humiliate her and deciding to play it safe and see how he reacts.

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BStu on February 9, 2011 at 7:08 pm.

As the guy in high school who was singing to the fat girls he liked in Concert Choir, I can certainly vouch for the truth that many fat women in that age group can be unwelcome to professions of their beauty. In my experience, though, I would question this:

I don’t want someone to want me only because I’m fat. I also do not want someone to like me despite the fact that I am fat.

This is extremely representative of the women I’ve known and have been in relationships with as an adult and indeed is almost identical to a line I often use describing what being a fat admirer means. That there is a choice between “because of” and “in spite of”. What I found when I was younger, though, was that while “because of” was very much scorned, “in spite of” was actually lionized and exalted. While that is a truth, I’d be concerned that it might be depicted in a way which actually reinforced the mislabeled virtue of people “selflessly” dating people they find physically undesirable. It can be an interesting dynamic to explore if the mean to challenge it, but if they mean to justify it, that would be very troubling. Stigmatizing desire for a fat partner is just a means of stigmatizing fat bodies. I don’t imagine the show has cast other characters attraction to socially expected partners as anything unseemly, after all.

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thirtiesgirl on February 9, 2011 at 8:54 pm.

What I took Katie’s comment to mean is that she doesn’t want someone to be attracted to her and fetishize her body *only* because she’s fat. Nor does she want someone to “look beyond” her fat and only appreciate her wit, intelligence, charm, independence, etc. I mean, how can you “look beyond” fat? You can’t pretend it’s not there, try to ignore it, and find attraction *only* in someone’s personality. Physical attraction is part of the package, so why should fat people do without?

I want someone to appreciate, be attracted to and love *every* part of me – brain, body and personality included. And that’s how I took Katie’s comment. Don’t look beyond my fat; see it, touch it, love it. Don’t fetishize me because I’m fat; I have a personality, a brain and a heart, too. (Apparently the Wizard of Oz was feeling generous that day…heh.)

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BStu on February 10, 2011 at 12:52 am.

That’s how I interpreted Katie’s meaning, but I was noting that there are strong cultural forces which have declared loving a fat person “in spite of” as a righteous ideal. I think these forces are not as strong as when I was in high school, but there was a strong motivation then to seek partners who would merely tolerate a fat body and to declare such reluctant tolerance as somehow righteous. What’s more, this is an issue very often depicted as a binary choice. I’m not really sure what to make of the episode. It never let Puck accept the notion of being physically attracted to Lauren. It showed him fumbling around with it, but it concerned me that it all built up to him claiming to no physical attraction and this being the turning point. I hope that doesn’t become the message here, but the righteous “despite” is a pretty dominant cultural influence.

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thirtiesgirl on February 10, 2011 at 7:49 pm.

Ok, now I understand where you’re coming from. I guess I’ve always been so locked in to my ideal of finding someone who loves me for *all* I am, even back in my high school daze (eons ago at this point), and me doing the same for the person I love, that I’d never noticed this ‘righteous ideal’ you speak of, of loving a fat person “in spite of” their fat. Since you offer a guy’s perspective, and I’ve never really had an open conversation with any guy I’ve dated about how he feels about dating fat women (I’ve certainly asked the guy how he feels about dating *me*, but I’ve never asked about his perspective on dating fat women in general), is this ‘righteous ideal’ a typical thing for a lot of guys who date fat women?

I also agree with you about Puck. I hope his attraction to Lauren is real and whole, and not “in spite of” her fat. The episode certainly didn’t offer any pointers in that direction. It remains to be seen what will happen in future episodes.

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ToeDipping on February 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm.

Great commentary! After seeing the episode I was very curious about the discussion that might crop up in fat circles about it.

I really enjoyed the ep, too. The hints of Lauren previously revealed have been pretty interesting, and it was great to see her character developed so much more. And the atypical romance storyline. Though I’m a little concerned it’ll turn into a guy just wanted what he couldn’t have story (and Puck previously has gone after the forbidden fruit and then screwed it up). After reading the interview Lesley linked I’m also hoping we get to hear her sing soon, too!

I would have enjoyed a bit more explanation for why Lauren didn’t appreciate the Fat Bottom Girls serenade. But I have to admit that it was the whole Funny Valentine scene that really mystified me. I kept expecting Tina to blurt out she still liked Artie or break up with Mike or something. Was that meant to be the goth girl going too far the other way when expressing tender intimate feelings or something? I’ve never felt like Tina was particularly bottled up in the feeling expressions department. Just don’t know what to make of that!

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Tari on February 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm.

What’s confusing to me is the idea that Lauren would be offended by a dude saying he thinks she’s hot (via song or whatever). Is that not a pretty standard manuever when trying to get with somebody, fat or thin? Granted, not necessarily an effective manuever, but standard nonetheless. Yeah, there’s the context of a fat-hatin’ world to add to the taboo/fetish vibe, but still. It seems kind of a stretch to me, given how much Lauren seems to respect herself.

Here’s hoping there’s not a cliche explanation coming down the pike. I’m hopeful that Lauren has backstory about an ex who used to sing it to her and then turned out to be a lying sack of douche.

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Mor on February 9, 2011 at 2:48 pm.

I haven’t seen the ep yet but don’t mind spoilers. I am a BIG fan of Queen, have the greatest hits albums, etc, and I wouldn’t have liked anyone singing it to me at all, especially in high school. I agree, I would have felt like it was a song pointing out my size and being more of a “sleep with me” song. I do sincerely hope they don’t cave on the character, I like her kick-assedness. I loved that she seemed to terrorize the football players in the Thriller episode. But yeah, I do wish they’d quit making her the “fat because she eats junk” type.

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Cadakeke on February 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm.

I watched this episode this morning, and HOPED to see something from you about it soon. (As a serious side note, has anyone ever discussed the topic of Freddie’s sexuality in the context of this song? I find through personal experience that men who identify as bi-sexual or homo-sexual are considerably much more open to the idea of fat women as beautiful without it being a fetish.)

Like you, I am also very glad to see a fat girl more to my proportions portrayed in a positive light. Even in day to day society, most people attracted to fat girls, like fat girls because they have ginormous racks, and that gets infinitely frustrating for sure.

As far as the song choice, I felt kind of iffy about it from the start. I’ve never really responded well when others have dedicated that song to me, but on the other hand I have gone full swoon being serenaded with “You’re the One for Me, Fatty.” I was never able to put my finger on why it bothered me, but when it comes to my feelings about my fat identity I tend to lack in the articulation department.

I agree with the “what about Mercedes?” sentiment too, even in this episode she announces her acceptance of being single. Why? She hangs out with Kurt still, and there are a slew of adorable Warblers, why can we not pick one more from that flock and give her a chance at something more. I am so tired of all the other characters being in the spotlight for romance, and honestly, I don’t find the kid playing Finn particularly attractive so can we lay off of his smooch face for a while? (While typing this bit it occurred to me that maybe the issue with Mercedes is that they feel it has to be a racial match in order for her to date? They did stick the two Asian characters together…)

My love/hate relationship with GLEE continues, and I hope that this episode brings about some acceptable changes.

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Leslee on February 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm.

I have to say that Glee is one of my favorite shows on television right now. It’s probably because deep down in my heart I wish life was like a musical and we could sing songs out of no where and they would appropriate reflect what was going on around us at the time. For some reason I feel like life would be a little bit more enjoyable if that could happen. Anyway, that’s not the point of all this. Last night I realized that I really love the character of Lauren Zizes and the storyline she had last night. Mind you I also didn’t understand the whole thing about being offended by the “Fat Bottomed Girls” serenade and how I probably would’ve swooned and didn’t understand why she was offended but I really love how she gave Puck a hard time about going out with her. So many times fat girls on TV shows jump at the chance to go out with some hot guy and it ends up as some huge giant joke by the time the episode is over. I mean we should all be so grateful that a hot boy is paying attention to us, right? Please! As for Mercedes I don’t understand why she is being ignored in the love department and the episode where Kurt told her she was substituting tater tots for love and him for a boyfriend made me so mad that I was disgusted. I would like to see Mercedes have a little crush (not on the gay guy) and have something else going on. Maybe something a little non-conventional.

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Leah on February 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm.

I’m not sure confidence and badassery have anything to do with Lauren’s reaction, here. I respected myself in high school. Everyone I knew told me how outgoing and cheerful I was. However, no one ever told me that I was allowed to be attractive to anyone.
In fact, I did a lot of what Lauren does in this episode and challenged guys who showed even the remotest signs of being into me. I pretended I was more confident and badass than I was, pushing guys away. I was always afraid that their being into me was one big joke and that I was the punch line.
I adore Queen, and Fat Bottomed Girls was (and still is) kind of my anthem in high school, but there is a real problem with any guy using it to woo me. It feels like objectification. Because it isn’t just, you, the one awesome fat bottomed girl, but rather all fat bottomed girls. You fit this type that I like. Plus, it feels like next to no thought went into the song selection. Like, you knew I was fat and so that’s the song you chose. You didn’t have to actually know anything about who I am as a person.
I think that’s where I stop being able to properly articulate how I feel about the situation.

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kellie on February 9, 2011 at 4:45 pm.

I understood immediately why “Fat Bottomed Girls” made her feel like crap. It’s another way of segregating fat girls based on their body. The other girls on the show were sung love songs about being pretty and stuff. But she was sung a song about being fat. No matter how awesome the song (and it is!), how awesomely it was sung, or how positive the song is about fat girls… it’s still a song about fat girls.

Also, as much as we want her to be positive and confident in her body… she is in high school. I don’t think anyone is positive or confident in their body then, certainly not girls. I think she’s got a lot of that in her, but we can cut her some slack the rest of the way because of the age of the character she is portraying.

One of the things I’ve always liked about their treatment of Mercedes is that she’s almost never singled out because of her size. (I say almost because of the unfortunate tater tots episode.) Mercedes was a cheerleader, with no joking about the fat cheerleader. In the Rocky Horror episode, she wore a tight, shiny outfit with fishnets (and was f-ing sexy in it) and there was no joking about it.

Also about Mercedes, I don’t think they are keeping her single because of a race issue. They’ve had interracial couples on the show before. At the beginning, Artie (the guy in the wheelchair) and Tina (the Asian girl) were a couple.

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Miriam Heddy on February 9, 2011 at 4:47 pm.

I do not watch Glee, but I love reading critical takes on it.

And I adore that Queen song, though I never really believed it was about fat women. It specifies “fat bottom” which I tend to think means that’s the only part of her that’s fat. There’s a pretty long history of fetishizing fat bottomed girls (and that history includes a really awful racist element, which makes me glad it wasn’t a serenade to Mercedes).

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alicia on February 9, 2011 at 4:57 pm.

re: Fat Bottomed Girls

I think Lauren doesn’t know what to think. At first, she’s smiling. Then, after the other girls look over with horrified looks on their faces, she makes a face (what IS that face, anyway?) and takes off her glasses for the rest of the song. She looks like she’s mostly flattered by it, honestly.

That said, Puck is flailing around, having a good time, knocking music stands and chairs over when he isn’t singing directly to her. It’s a nod and an wink the whole time, but we find out later in the episode that if he wants her, he’ll have to be serious. I think to Lauren, the whole thing felt like a joke, not necessarily because of the song itself, but the song and the way he acted during it.

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The Well-Rounded Mama on February 9, 2011 at 5:43 pm.

You have piqued my interest to watch this episode now! It’s on the DVR queue but I haven’t gotten to it yet.

So can’t really comment on the choice of that song or how she reacted to it, but I do have to give a lot of props to Ryan that he has TWO fat characters on the show (two more than most shows!) and they’re allowed to be different from each other, allowed to be bad-ass instead of insecure and whiny like most fat characters on TV, and I think the whole idea of Puck and Lauren has a lot of promise. The Puck character cracks me up and pairing him with Lauren is a great idea….if they do it right. I’m still not sure they are going to do it right but my fingers are definitely crossed.

But I really get frustrated over the lack of equal time for Mercedes. She just isn’t allowed to be as deep or well-rounded a character yet, and it’s very noticeable that she hasn’t had the same kind of romantic story that others have had. Although she gets a fair amount of solos, they don’t give the really high-profile stuff she deserves to get singing-wise either. So I’d really like to see them do better by the Mercedes character.

On a non-fat note, I was irritated that Tina has not had as much singing time as some of the leads. She can sing, but she doesn’t get a lot of chances to, and it’s time to fix that. She’s got a bit of storyline now, which is great, but I don’t think they’ve really “found” her character yet either. So I am waiting to see whether they can do her justice too.

This show was so much irreverent fun the first season, but it’s been so flat or over-the-top the second season that it’s been really disappointing. However, the addition of Lauren has really added some needed ZING to the cast. I hold out hope that they will stop writing the constant eating gags for her and just let her be a really rockin’, kick-ass fat character….and that they will write some genuine romance storyline for both her and Mercedes.

Thanks for keeping the conversation going on this. I enjoy it.

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Liza on February 9, 2011 at 5:57 pm.

Some people have said this, but my interpretation was that “Fat Bottomed Girls” was a problem because it was JUST about her size. She seemed to come around more when he talked about how badass she is. To me it was an assertion that a guy (even one as ridiculously hot as Puck) has to appreciate her for more than her body, that she’s fat but she isn’t JUST fat. Which I thought kind of rocked.

The Valentine candy lines annoyed me, though.

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Quidra on February 9, 2011 at 6:12 pm.

She actually will be getting a solo soon. I think the song she’ll be singing is “I Know What Boys Like.”Also, I heard a rumor that there might be some type of sex tape scandal involving her and Puck.

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Paco on February 9, 2011 at 6:13 pm.

Agreeing with several other commenters, I think it was just the fact that “Fat Bottom Girls” was solely about her size. It was supposed to be a love song, but he only sang about her body. He wasn’t inspired by her wit, charm, badassery. He ignored all of that in his song. And I noticed that when Puck would say something about her personality or mind, she instantly perked up. I think she wanted a song about HER, not just her body.

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AlisonY on February 9, 2011 at 7:10 pm.

Speaking of Mercedes, during the Fat-Bottomed Girls performance, didn’t she seem to be enjoying it while the other girls were looking at it with disbelief?

I’m glad they’re writing Lauren better, but I hope this show will finally write a storyline around Lauren and/or Mercedes and it will not involve their looks/weight at all in it. It’s a sad state of television when something as simple as that is sooooo “radical.”

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Jackie on February 9, 2011 at 7:40 pm.

I also found the fight between Lauren and Brittany really problematic. It was pretty violent. I find her violence on the football field and wrestling mat totally appropriate, but that whole showdown in the hallway made me feel ill. I didn’t see it as ‘bad-ass’ but as ‘really messed up’.
I wonder if Lauren’s problem with the song relates to how the word fat is used to oppress women. Because I really don’t think Rachel would have been horribly upset if Finn had sung “brown-eyed girl” to her (or a more racey song about hot girls more generally to one of the typical hot girls). And I don’t think it’s because Rachel is confident that Finn likes her for more than her looks. The ‘hot’ girls don’t resist sexualization on Glee. For me it has to go back to oppression and what fat means as a word and as an experience.
Oh and the “this is what America looks like” line? Way to add to the media hype that headless deathfats are the face of the ‘obesity crisis’ in America. *sigh*
On the plus side:
I love having Ashley Fink on TV again. I love seeing someone whose body is similar to the size of my body on TV. I love being reminded of the amazingness that was Huge.

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thirtiesgirl on February 9, 2011 at 7:54 pm.

I agree with others who have commented that “Fat Bottomed Girls” was just about Lauren’s body, and I think she wanted something more. While I might have been over the moon in high school that a guy like Puck (yeah, ok, I like the bad boys) would serenade me with that song (even though my bottom is one part of my bod that carries no fat), after a few days of reflection, I’d have realized that I actually would have preferred him to sing me a different song, one that showed an appreciation for every aspect of who I am, not just my physicality.

Overall, though, I felt pretty uplifted by the episode. The rest of the ep, especially the Quinn/Finn/Rachel stuff, fell flat…although Finn’s gift to Rachel was very sweet. And while I liked the subplot with Kurt and the hunky boys’ choir guy, it was really the Puck/Lauren stuff that made me happy. Just to see a character on a popular tv show so ga-ga-eyed over a fat girl made me feel a little bit of hope.

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Adrian on February 9, 2011 at 8:27 pm.

Okay. Maybe I can shed a bit of light on why it’s offensive. At least, to me.

First, I am a Queen fan. I did find “Fat Bottomed Girls” to be an anthem at one point. Mostly when I was only half listening to it.

After listening to the lyrics a few weeks in a row on my work drive, I began to hate it. I love the base theory, but I am still coming to terms with my voluptuous body. Being called “big fat fanny” to a room of fellow students you are still getting a feel for, I can see how it would be very uncomfortable and I would probably want to not call attention to myself in that manner.

“Take me to them dirty ladies every time” – Just because you’re fat doesn’t make you dirty. I think this is what got me personally. Just because I’m big I’m supposed to have the naughty relations, to sleep with anyone I can get?

In another way, the song objectifies big girls, something most songs don’t do (save “Big Butts”), so it could be uncomfortable to be serenaded with. It’s like saying “you’re fat, sleep with me you dirty desperate girl!”

As you touched on, I would be upset with the theory of “she’s big, this song’s about big girls, it works!” I am more than my size. I have a brain. A personality. I am more than my body, and I’m pretty fuckin awesome. I think Lauren fels the same way, as others have mentioned.

On the side of Mercedes, well Puck was into her too. For about an episode. He sang “The Lady is a Tramp”, to her. It may have only been because she was a cheerio at that time, but it may have been a bit of chubby-chaser coming out. Never know.

She was once interested in the black football player (whose contract did not renew for this season), but she chose not to persue… can’t remember why. It was very, very brief and not the main focus of the storyline.

The first few episodes she actually had a crush on Kurt. And obviously that didn’t work. I think right now she’s in the background (sadly), mostly because the bullying storyline is so big right now. Maybe in the near future we can get some Mercedes love.

Can’t wait to see how it turns out though.

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drst on February 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm.

This. That song isn’t a fun song. It’s a weapon. I cannot conceive of a high schooler singing that song in a way that’s not intended to humiliate the person it’s being sung to, because that’s the only context I’ve ever heard the song used in in my own life. Ha ha “fat bottomed girls it’s the only song that could ever be sung about you, geddit?”

I’m sorry, I know you love the song and Queen but I would’ve shoved my fist into Puck’s face for doing that to me.

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Meowser on February 9, 2011 at 10:11 pm.

I’ve never watched this show, but just from how you described it, I have to agree with some of the other commenters that she wanted a declaration of love, not a song calling even more attention to her most salient body parts. It would be kind of like “wooing” a thinner girl with big boobs by singing “Brick House.” (And I remember HATING that song in ninth grade because I had the biggest boobs in the class and the assumption at the time was big boobs = stupid.)

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MadGastronomer on February 10, 2011 at 10:44 am.

Having gone and watched the entire episode, I am leaning more and more towards the idea that her reservations are about sex. When he told her he wasn’t that kind of guy, she brought up that he got a girl pregnant last year, not that he’d broken hearts as I would have expected from what he’d said immediately before. And later, she tells him she doesn’t want to just mess around, so he has to go slow. I think she took the song as saying he thought she was an easy lay, and she objected to that, possibly as well as the objectification of her fat.

And yes, Queen-qua-Queen is never offensive, but Queen directed straight at someone in a way they aren’t comfortable with is a different matter.

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kbryna on February 12, 2011 at 7:43 pm.

YES! MadGastronomer, I think you’re on to something.

the explanations, even the ones I made to myself, about the song and body-image and body-issues, weren’t quite fitting. But THIS explanation, the one that has to do with sex – this makes sense.

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MadGastronomer on February 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm.

I think it explains a lot more than the other theories floating around. I suspect that this storyline will be continued, and that there will be some kind of revelation about Lauren’s past that will be in line with this — she was pressured into her first time and now isn’t comfortable with any pressure about sex, she got pregnant, she’s still a virgin for some Significant Reason, whatever.

From the Seven Minutes in Heaven bit, I gather she’s reasonably comfortable with her own sexuality, but not with the sexuality of others directed at her. She was fine going into that closet because it was for her pleasure, not his, and when it didn’t do anything for her, she walked away (and seemed to enjoy doing it, too; she’s quite the young domme).

The more I think about it, the more I like it.

And, y’know, honestly, I’m a very sex-positive person now, plus poly and kinky and generally open, and if some guy I’d already turned down for a date sang me a song that boiled down to “fuck me now,” I’d probably react a lot worse than Lauren did. If somebody I was already in some kind of relationship with, romantic or sexual or whatever, sang me Fat Bottom Girls, I’d probably be all over them in a hot minute, on the other hand.

Mmm. Hot butch singing Fat Bottom Girls to me, all dressed in biker leathers. Mmmmm…. I’ll be in my bunk.

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Adrian on February 15, 2011 at 11:49 pm.

LOL! Love it! I agree, in that context… I’ll take it.

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Betsy on February 10, 2011 at 11:10 am.

Other people have left similar comments, but I just wanted to defend the Ryan Murphy-written ambiguity re: Lauren’s being “comfortable” in her size.

For me, her dismay at being serenaded as a “fat-bottom girl” was less about “Ugh… he’s calling me fat! OH NO!” and more about “Ugh… here is this guy who allegedly likes me and he’s still commenting on my figure. Can we just stop talking about it please?”

As a fat person, of course, I don’t want people throwing insults my way due to my size, but I’m also not interested in some dude who is into me purely because of my shape. Yay for Puck for pursuing someone awesome regardless of what size they are! Yay for Puck for seeing that Lauren is a total bad-ass and being into her tough, independent attitude! But why did he have to make it all about her so-called “curves” for so long?

I saw the song as disappointing and somewhat “offensive” (though, I agree, that’s the wrong word for it) because it continues to reduce Lauren’s total awesome package to her fatness– which is exactly what everbody else is doing to her, just in a negative way. I think she would have preferred “Killer Queen.”

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Marcia on February 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm.

Oh, man. In High school, if a guy decided to express his crush on me by singing a song about how hot parts of my body are, I would have HATED it, and never ever ever gone out with him, EVER.
I wasn’t fat in high school, so I don’t have that experience to compare. I was an aspergers-nerd with the personal boundaries of Fort Knox, and I think I can get a good comparison out of it, but if I’m out of line let me know.
My personal boundaries came from a few different places; body-consciousness, having been assaulted as a kid, and an intense lack of social awareness. Even with all the teenage hormones, I was not eager to jump right into the sexy parts of a relationship. What I wanted, and still want, is to hang out and talk for a while without sex being an issue. My nerdy personality is a big part of this. I am both wary of doing something socially “wrong”, and confident in myself; I am happy as a nerd and I don’t want to be around people who can’t embrace it. And I think that’s quite similar to what people have been saying about attraction to fat people; It’s no good to be around people who hate the fat but love the person. So when I like someone and they like me, I want them to like my nerdyness. It should be like: I like your nerdyness, and I like your body, and I like how you act, and I like what you say, and I like how you dress, and I like how you smell, and I like the music you play or the jokes you tell…. and on and on, you know, the feeling of really LIKING someone, the feeling that almost everything about them is really cool and special. That’s the kind of feeling that really sappy love songs are written about, and if someone had sung me a sappy love song in high school, I would’ve been a little embarrassed, but it would’ve been awesome. If somebody started right off the bat with “Fat Bottom Girls”? No. Puck might have been O.K. if his song indicated that he liked Lauren’s body along with many other things about her. Instead, his song vaguely indicated that he likes her body type. Some people are O.K. with that, but I have no trouble seeing why some people are not.

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Lauren (no, really) on February 10, 2011 at 7:05 pm.

I think Lauren is so much more than what you are seeing.

If we take what we know about Lauren into consideration, she is pretty damn awesome. She fought for the right to be the only girl on the schools wrestling team AND is a champion, when Sue had her as part of McKinley’s Old Maids Club, it wasn’t because she was fat but that she let herself be split up from someone she was in love with because he was on a rival team and she regretted that.

This whole thing with Puck, well it came across to me that at first when Puck sang ‘i know about love’ she was smiling and into the whole being sung to. Then the song turned into one of lust and not love and she looked less than impressed. Thats why the song is offensive, with all the hip thrusts and eye-fucking, Puck is making it all about wanting to shag her and less about wanting to be with her. If I had been sung something like ‘I wanna sex you up’ or ‘in those jeans’ in front of a whole roomfull of people when I was a teen, I would have been embarrassed and quite frankly, turned off. Also, she shouldn’t be ashamed that shes fat, but why does it have to define her? I’m fat and I’m mixed race. If somone sang a song to me in which they implied I was an African Queen I would be wondering why that was all they saw when they looked at me. Its nice to have that part of me appreciated, but why does it have to be all about that?

The faces that Rachel, Mercedes and Tina were making seemed to be more about being called a ‘big fat fatty’ and less about being sung to Lauren and thats not a comment on how the writer views the world, more that a comment like that would be one that teenage girls would find offensive because they haven’t learned to be accepting of their bodies yet. Hell look at rachel whining every two minutes because she isn’t as pretty as someone else, and Mercede’s has had her own personal struggle to connect her weight with her beauty before.

Lauren isn’t ashamed of her weight, so why should she be happy that someone is telling her he finds her sexy BECAUSE she is fat? That makes little sense to me. I don’t want someone to tell me they only fancy me because I’m fat, I’d rather someone told me that they fancied me because I was clever and interesting and that the fat was a bonus, if anything. And when he does clarify that, she conceeds to go on a date with him.

When she then stood him up for the date, it then came across to me that she wants him to be serious, not just have his ’7 minutes in heaven’ with her and then drop her to the sideline like he did with so many others, including Quinn; because lets face it, from the outside it would seem to everyone at the school that Puck knocked her up and then left her. Lauren is a no bullshit kind of girl, she is not going to be fetishized, she isn’t going to be taken for a ride and she isn’t going to be used for sex. She *IS* a badass, and the best type.

Personally, I like it when Lauren eats whatever she wants, because she doesn’t give a zip. She wants creme eggs? She gets creme eggs, and she’s not going to make herself feel bad about it. Then on the other hand, you have Sam who hates himself if he eats a hot dog! Why? To keep himself it top physical shape. Lauren is in top physical shape, she’s a sporting champion and she can eat a hot dog without crying about it in the bathroom. I wish I’d been more like her at 16.

I think she is one of the few characters Ryan Murphy has gotten right.
I like what you added at the end and I agree that there needed to be more clarification surrounding the issue of why Lauren found it offensive. The America line also confused me, and my first thought wasn’t that all American’s are fat… but that America the country is large. That was a reaaaally odd statement to make. I still dont understand.

I will also agree with you though, that sidelining Mercedes is starting to get pretty old.
but I think its refreshing that in a school full of people who think that being in a relationship is the be all and end all of their lives, Mercedes is happy being single and concentrating on what she wants to do, where she wants to go and loving herself. It was a small victory when she played Frankenfurter in the Rocky Horror episode.

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Nikidy on February 16, 2011 at 6:24 pm.

This! all of this! i totally agree with your take on the episode, and Lauren – it’s exactly how i see her character and the interactions.

I also think Lauren was against the song and the whole singing-wooing thing because, well, Puck’s done it before – that’s how he got Mercedes to go out with him in the first place: by singing about her curves and food. (i totally don’t remember the actual song right now, fail)
Lauren’s use of “offensive” isn’t just about everyone else’s response, nor is it just about the perception of her weight or his complacency expecting her to fall for it, OR even that this is a trick he’s tried before: it’s a combination of factors, as everything is, and as everything in high school is.
She is different and needs to make clear to Puck that she needs to be treated differently; so, she rejects his song, she rejects his date by standing him up, and makes him beg and express why he really likes her. She’ll take his attention and relish it, but he ain’t gonna get one up on her.
She has set boundaries and made sure everything is on her terms, and i really hope they keep going that way and don’t screw it up later.

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Beth on February 11, 2011 at 12:08 am.

I figured that Lauren was bothered by Puck’s song choice, because she would have hoped for something completely unrelated to her weight. That she’s more than that. That, yes, she’s big, but for once can anybody focus on something else about her?

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Erina on February 11, 2011 at 7:47 am.

I understand all the love and the hate with this episode. However, I would like to focus on the chemistry between Puck & Lauren — wow! I especially love the final scene (I won’t give it away). The actors seem so normal and natural with each other. In that final scene I really believed they were high school students trying to figure out and negotiate all this complicated love stuff combined with identity/body image stuff. I really can’t get over how *natural* they seemed. Perhaps because they are also on a show full of purposeful over-the-top broadway style acting.

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Shoshie on February 11, 2011 at 9:57 am.

Lauren’s reaction in that scene seemed perfect to me. I agree that the stuff that came after it was really trite. But, when I was a baby-FA, I was OK with calling myself fat. But I was experimenting, and I was cautious. Even if I was OK with projecting an image of a confident fat chick- and part of that was true!- I SO wouldn’t have been OK with sitting in a high school club and suddenly having SOMEONE ELSE call me fat. Fat-the-word STILL hasn’t gotten to the point where people who I don’t know can use it to describe me, because I need to be sure that their motives are benign. And, in the majority of cases, fat is still used as an insult. My husband calls me fat, and I don’t mind. Some of my close friends who have heard my FA spiel. But if some dude I just met called me fat in front of a bunch of people that I didn’t know that well? And if half the people in the room looked totally disgusted? Baby-FA-Shoshie would totally have felt humiliated and ashamed. Current-Shoshie would probably be skeptical of said dude’s motives. Um, so that was my long-winded way of saying that her reaction read pretty true to me. I hope that they continue to explore the complexity of her character.

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Zanna77 on February 11, 2011 at 11:57 am.

http://www.tvsquad.com/2011/02/08/glee-lauren-zizes-ashley-fink/

I have no idea how to make a link, but there is a great interview with Ashley Fink here.

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Zanna77 on February 11, 2011 at 11:57 am.

Oh look, it linked by itself, awesome!

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Kellie on February 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm.

I guess Lauren maybe wouldn’t want him to sing to her about being fat because it might seem like its the most important thing it has to color everything he sings and says to her. If a guy liked a girl with giant boobs, I doubt he’d sing a song to her about her big ol titties, and tell her how much he loves them all the time. But, then again the song was pretty much saying she’s hot….and thats not a bad thing to hear. I guess I get why everyone in class would think it not the best song, that he should have sung a sweet generic “gee your peachy” kind of song because even skinny girls on tv don’t like to be thought of as just a body. But he seemed so positive and sincere about it, and its not lyrically an offensive song, if she knows she has a fat bottom and is cool with it. But I guess maybe she felt reduced to only a fat bottom?

I watch Glee, not religiously but I have seen it a bunch of times. There was an episode that had Kurt trying to set up Mercedes with a hot athlete guy and the guy gave her some interested looks but she chose not to pursue it, so the writers didn’t ignore her completely but also never really addressed why it never happened or why she’s against being in relationships. I don’t know if they are portraying her as the “timid fragile fatty” or if its independent of that…never explained.

Anyway I like Lauren, I hope she stays tough.

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Nuchtchas on February 11, 2011 at 4:40 pm.

I don’t watch Glee, I really don’t like the show, but this episode I saw a minute of the beginning and had to watch it just for the big girl storyline.

I think the reason she was offended by the song was because she doesn’t want a guy to dig her because she is fat, he wants to dig her for being her. It wasn’t till Puck said he liked her because she was tuff, because she kicked ass (and PS did you see how turned on he was as she was kicking the tar out of the skinny girl. I think the only thing lacking in that scene was poor fight choreographing. The filming and everything was awkward I think because the show doesn’t normally film fights, so they just did it lame, throw the buffy fight guy on that scene and it would be awesome) It wasn’t till Puck showed her he was serious and it wasn’t just, ooo I think I like fatties now, no, he didn’t even know why he was into her until the end of the show. It was her spunk he liked, the fight she had in her, and when he admitted that, that’s when Lauren started to take him seriously.

And kudos to her character for insisting they start as friends because she clearly knows Puck is a dog, he made out with a waitress when she stood him up, she didn’t want to be his flavor of the week, so good on her.

I don’t watch the show, but I really hope this wasn’t just a valentines thing and the whole romantic plot will be forgotten next week

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Kayliegirl on February 11, 2011 at 6:25 pm.

This post really got me thinking. I can’t quite imagine what my own reaction would be to this song, but I would be UTTERLY dismayed and heartbroken if someone serenaded me with “Big Girl, You are Beautiful” (mentioned up thread). Part of that is because I haven’t fully accepted my fat self yet, I’m sure but another part is, as many others have said, that for a guy to focus on the one aspect you’re not accepting of, that our society doesn’t expect you to accept… I’m not sure that’s a good thing. In the interests of full disclosure, I personally have similar abivilance issues surrounding ‘Hairspray’ which I love in general, but where the ‘fat girl falls in love’ message makes me feel a little sad, rather than uplifted.

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Alicia on February 12, 2011 at 1:59 am.

When she said that the song was offensive, I didn’t take it to mean that she found it offensive that Puck would mention that she’s fat, or that she’s uncomfortable with how she looks. I took it to mean that she was offended because he was defining her whole person by her weight.

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veronica on February 12, 2011 at 3:06 am.

I was a curvy, taller, heavier girl in high school. I had my first boyfriend during my junior year and it excited me that he was able to look past size and I had found someone who just enjoyed me for me. We were driving in his car one day when he played “Big Girl, You are Beautiful”. I was highly uncomfortable. He kind of made it a usual song that would play during carrides and the song took on such a different, upsetting, meaning for me (I loved listening to it on my own before we had gotten together.) This post has had me wondering why I, like Lauren, felt like crap. I think it’s because I didn’t enjoy having my main insecurity lit under a spotlight…like my bigness was something that needed to be ‘okay’d’ and he “approved.” I also think that NO girl in high school is completely confident in her body. As tough and confident as she may be, she will have that tender and vulnerable fear of not looking good enough so being acknowledged as “fat” is like being slapped in the face with a truth that probably hasn’t been embraced/accepted by herself, her peers, her family (sometimes) and even strangers on the street. It’s not “okay” in our society yet.

I think Lauren displays her greatest attempt at “toughness”/”confidence” when she tells Puck it made her feel like crap. The honesty in that is something I could never have imagined saying to my boyfriend, even if his serenade was just in the privacy of the car. At least in high school, as a heavy girl, you don’t want people staring at you and looking at the part of yourself that makes you most uncomfortable (big arms, un-flat stomach, etc.) – no matter how kickass of a person you are. I would find the storyline completely unrealistic if Lauren had no concerns/emotional depth when it comes to her physical apperance. I give her huge props for being honest. From personal experience, I wasn’t ready to be embraced by someone because I hadn’t fully embraced myself. It takes a lot of work and self-love to overcome fears in apperance and I was not ready to pretend like everything was great in that department with my boyfriend.

That was a lot of babbling, but bottom line– I understand why Ryan is carefully trodding around Lauren’s “fat” stereotype because it’s most definitely a sensitive issue to Lauren (as much as we’d like to think it’s not,) and probably Ashley Fink (the actress), too.

I can’t wait to see where her storyline goes!

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CraftyLuna on February 12, 2011 at 11:32 am.

You know, it doesn’t much bother me that Mercedes isn’t in a relationship right now. For a couple of reasons.

First: I watch a lot of TV, and the stereotype of fat black ladies that sticks out to me is that they are hypersexual, almost predatory, so I see Mercedes as defying that stereotype.

Second: Does every high school character on television have to be in a relationship? I find it refreshing that Mercedes is focusing on her talent rather than on finding a boyfriend. What I wish is that she got more story lines, but not necessarily romantic ones. I want to meet her family, find out her interests other than church and singing. Wouldn’t it be awesome to find out that she, I dunno, writes poetry or is really good at science, or something like that?

But that’s kind of a complaint I have about most of the characters on this show. We don’t really know many of them very well at all.

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Erica G on February 12, 2011 at 5:08 pm.

I actually had the same reaction Lauren did to the Fat Bottomed Girls bit. It’s all swell that Puck wants to demonstrate that he’s into teh fat chicks, but he reduces her to *just* her body by making his “greatest love song” to her be about body and nothing else. If feels like Puck said, OK, I want her to know I love her even though or maybe even partly because she’s fat, rather than, I want her to know I love her.

OTOH, at least there was no appearance of Baby Got Back.

In any case, my reaction in that scene was that I’d have been majorly pissed if I were Lauren, especially if it were my high school self sitting in her place. And in general, the song would be totally fine – if Lauren and Puck were an established couple, and the love song assignment came after they’d been dating a while and it was clear to all that there’s more there than just “ooh, apparently I want to experiment with a fat chick” which is really sort of how it comes across.

The hall fight was disturbing cos they’re so obviously unevenly matched, but I did love Puck’s reaction. I think also for perhaps skeptical viewers of the “but Puck is hot! So how could he like the fat girl?” persuasion, it makes it very clear that her badassery is a huge part of why he likes her, in a way that just his saying it outright later on wouldn’t have.

My housemate and I were puzzling out why Lauren stood Puck up. I would be OK with there being some grain of truth to the idea that she’s wary of being punked, and wants to see him go out on a limb when there isn’t an audience before she’s willing to admit any feelings by taking any action herself. But it did ring false. There’s no way she just forgot.

Really, my only solid issue with this episode is how many times we had to see or refer to Lauren eating. But I guess that’s another thing on the wish list that we can’t expect to happen all at once.

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Willow on February 12, 2011 at 6:45 pm.

“Though I have never found Puck (nor the actor who plays him) to be particularly appealing, his tenative [italics mine] chubby-chaser enthusiasm is adorable…”

Only one typo in that whole letter! Lesley, I’m impressed! And I hope you’re not getting pissed off at me for pointing those out! (I can’t help it, I worked as an editor for a long time.)

And what a letter. You were born to write, girl.

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Jessica on February 14, 2011 at 6:40 pm.

Awesome blog.

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