June 23, 2010

What Rachel Barry Has in Common With Blair Waldorf

I love Rachel Barry, queen of the Glee Glub Geeks (known as "Gleeks") on Glee. I also love Blair Waldorf, queen of the popular girls on Gossip Girl. Why? I mean, they run in very different circles and have very different goals. I mean, one's a Jewish princess who wants to dominate Broadway Streisand-style and the other is a WASP princess the show seems to suggest is a future president of the United States. Well, what I like about BOTH of them is that they want things. They want power, they want influence, they success. They aren't demure. They aren't afraid to plot what they get what they want and call out injustices where they see them - they are kickass young women who fight (I contend feminist-style) to get what they want and deserve.

When Mr. Shuester takes against Rachel on Glee! despite the fact that she is the most talented in the bunch, giving her solos to the musically less gifted Tina, Rachel tells him off. She's not afraid of his patriarchal authority, and when Mr. Shue refuses to give Rachel's talented the respect it merits, she tells him off.

Not only does Rachel tell Mr. Shue like it is, but she isn't afraid to pursue Finn. She doesn't sit around waiting for the guy she likes to get his act together and pursue her. She isn't passive. When Finn later rejects Rachel because he's uneasy about dating a girl with a lower social status, Rachel delivers a rousing speech about how she sees through him. She doesn't blame herself for not being good enough; she sees he's immature. Even Finn applauds Rachel's perceptive power in this breakup monologue, responding once it's done, "It's like your in my head!" Rachel is smarter than the boys and she tells them off when they deserve it. Later in the same episode, Rachel sings gives Finn a musical comeuppance by singing "Gives You Hell" in Glee Club and moves on to dating a better singer who isn't ashamed of being in a Glee club or dating a Glee clubber practically the next day. Finn later comes crawling back, but she makes him eat a lot of crow over a series of episodes before eventually accepting his apology and his love. Rachel Barry has a highly developed sense of self-worth.

Blair Waldorf also has a sense of self-worth, which is why she's kickass too. When compared to Hilary Clinton by her best friend Serena, Blair responds, "Yes, except I'd win!" One can assume Blair is referring to the presidency. Blair might be a bit boy crazy, but she also spends a lot of time scheming to get into the school she wants. Still, in the boy department, Blair is aggressive, like Rachel. After months of pursuing the emotionally tortured and commitment-shy Chuck Bass, she too has a monologue that calls him on his bullshit. She psycholoanalyzes the FUCK out of Chuck Bass, and it's awesome. "I love you," Blair declares, "And I know you love me too." This kind of confidence in a female character must be applauded.

Blair and Chuck eventually get together, but Blair only allows that once Chuck has conquered his fear of the "L-Word." In season 3, after Chuck starts being a manipulative boyfriend and Blair realizes she's spent months becoming his docile trophy girlfriend and a pawn in his ridiculous schemes, she dumps him. Why? Because she wants to be with someone who "brings out the best" in her. Blair isn't so desperate for a boyfriend that she'll settle for just any Wall Street boy billionaire - she needs one who is good to her.

So, Rachel Barry might be Queen of the Gleeks and Blair Waldorf might be the Queen Bee, but they're both tenacious girls who know their own worth and stand up for themselves. They speak their minds and refuse to allow men to manipulate them or make them feel little. These are girls who OWN THEMSELVES. They aren't just someone's girlfriend. These are some good role-models for teenage girls. See, teen tv can be profound tv too....

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