Glee proved bad writing can still be worthwhile
I'll admit it: I stopped watching Glee two seasons ago. Granted, I stuck around longer than most. The show was a revelation at first for an awkward teenage musical theatre enthusiast, and my initial investment kept me semi-masochistically enduring even as it descended into really, truly bad writing. Incidentally, my breaking point was Kurt and Blaine's first breakup (the only characters worth watching by then). I essentially said "screw this bull****" and never looked back.
But that's not exactly true. I first looked back when Cory Monteith died two summers ago, because he was far too young — a celebrity of my generation's invention. I'm also looking back now, because Glee ended last Friday and I can't help feeling a residual, nostalgic wave of sadness.
Glee has been a bad show for a most of its run. God knows its creators like to think it will go down in television history as "The Greatest Show Ever," despite the awful writing, utter neglect for continuity, and self-righteous "issue"-centrism. However, now that's all over, credit should be given where credit is due. More — and certainly earlier — than any other show, Glee demonstrated that diversity in television is both feasible and practical.
Justifiably, Glee took pride in playing the diversity card. It ran down the checklist of minorities: Black, gay, Latino, physically disabled, trans, mixed-race, mentally disabled, Asian, bisexual, Jewish, and so on. Problematic aspects of these characters aside (and there were plenty), no other show has yet represented minority groups to Glee's extent or prominence.
Anybody who holds a minority identity knows that media representation is an invaluable resource. Good, accurate, positive television portrayals of minorities are of course the ideal, but for the most part those are as rare and precious as diamonds. Glee may not have offered many diamonds, but it certainly tossed out a whole bunch of cubic zirconia. For individuals starved for any character that validated their identity, Glee may not have been shiny or durable enough, but it was something. If Glee will be remembered for anything, it will be for its diversity.
In this, if nothing else, other shows should take Glee as an example. Broad media representation is doable (Glee did it), and even if it by no means signals quality writing, good acting, or longevity in a show, at least it gives the critics something to remember favorably post-cancellation.