Glee and POC Part 4:
Carmel High Academic Decathlon Club Members: Two members of the apparent four involved in Carmel High’s Academic Decathlon Club, alongside SunshineCorazon and one other unnamed female member, all we know of them is their appearance, no name cards, no words, just a quick reaction shot of their fallen faces when defeated, and the assumption that they both must be quite intelligent to be on an Academic Decathlon Club of course. They are never seen again.
Sunshine Corazon: A foreign exchange student from the Philippines who briefly attended McKinley before transferring to Carmel High School, where she is a member of the school’s Academic Decathlon Club, which suggests she’s a very intelligent young woman. She was presented as being a very trusting, kind and friendly individual, who’s trusting nature led her to being taken advantage of and being put in harm’s way by Rachel, who sent her to a crack house, where she was greeted by having her sheet music stolen for toilet paper, despite this she still auditioned and got into the New Directions, before quitting the club and the school for Vocal Adrenaline and Carmel, both because of her fear of Rachel and because Carmel/Vocal Adrenaline where able to get her and her mother green cards. When the glee club where holding a benefit concert she offered to perform with them and seemed genuine about wanting to help, and apparently the only reason she ultimately pulled out of performing was because her coach (Dustin Goolsby) forced her to. She last appeared during Nationals, where she was so nervous and run down from Vocal Adrenaline’s strict and brutal regime and forced commitment to the club, that she was planning on begging the Philippines Embassy to revoke her green card and to send her back home, but after the white girl who sent her to a crack house tells her to suck it up and just get on with it, flashing her a thumbs up, she does. She rarely appeared or was mentioned, and she hasn’t made a reappearance since the end of season 2.
D. Lightman/G. LaChance: Two students from Riverfront High School, both members of their school’s Academic Decathlon Club. We know nothing of them but appearance and name, though we can assume that they’re considerably intelligent since they’re in an Academic Decathlon Club and because they made it to the National Finales in Detroit, and if that didn’t tip you off well D. Lightman’s wearing glasses and we all know wearing glasses automatically makes you a smarty pants. They are never seen again.
Doctor Wu: One of just two Obstetricians in Lima, who it was revealed handled Kendra Giardi’s pregnancies, as well as looking over Terri’s hysterical pregnancy and then fake one. He was presented as being a content man, though it was strongly suggested he finds his job incredibly stressful and unrewarding when he offhandedly mentioned that after dentists, obstetricians apparently have the highest suicide rate amongst medical professionals, in order to relax and de-stress he cares for a bonsai tree, something which is commonly practised by those of Asian ethnicity. Of course, as Wu is Asian, a Karate Kid reference of Mr. Miyagi was made, when Kendra and Terri threatened to spread malicious lies that Wu’s incompetence as an Obstetrician lead to Kendra’s children all being unintelligent and red headed, letting it be known to him that most patients would probably leave him for his rival Obstetrician Doctor Chin (who handled Quinn’s pregnancy) – Wu caves to this threat and agrees to help Terri fake an ultrasound to convince her husband Will that she truly is pregnant. Wu only made two appearance, his character nothing more than a walking reference to and joke relating to anything remotely Asian.
Tina Cohen-Chang: A student a McKinley High School, involved in a committed relationship with one Mike Chang and an original member of the school’s glee club, New Directions. Tina has always been presented as an intelligent young woman, one who has no problem standing up for herself, though she is very shy, to the point of faking a stutter so that people would just avoid her. She’s been shown several times to be somewhat of a feminist, once going off on an explosive rant against Artie after several sexist remarks and actions, she’s also been shown to be comfortable in her looks and body, refusing to be ashamed of her appearance or changing it for anyone other than herself. Sadly, despite being one of Glee’s better female character, she’s by far the most underappreciated and ignored. Tina has never truly had her own plot on the show, she’s always just an accessory to the plots of others - She was used as an obstacle in Rachel’s storyline, a support system in Artie’s and the voice of reason and blunt truth in Mike and Mike Sr.’s, the few solos she has managed to perform have either been reused by other characters or cut off mid-song, Tina’s line ‘I just want a song’ is heart breaking in its simplicity, Tina just wants her moment in the spotlight, she just wants to be included and noticed, she just wants you to stop ignoring her. Tina has been a supporting character since season 1, however the constant snubbing of her character, and the show’s unwillingness to ever truly include or focus on her might often make you wonder if she’s actually a character anymore, or whether she’s simply a token POC to avoid backlash.
Howard Bamboo: Howard was an employee at Sheets-N-Things, and former member of the short lived boyband Acafellas, he is dyslexic and incompetent when it comes to his job and in general, much like Ken, Howard’s role on the show was simply as a living punching bag and comedic relief, his inability to understand or perform the simplest task was often made a joke of, he’s often taking advantage of by his former co-worker Terri, such as when he was arrested on suspicion of running a meth lab after trying to buy a large amount of pseudoephedrine on Terri’s instruction. He rarely appeared or was mentioned, since season 2 he has not appeared or been mentioned at all.
Michael Chang Sr.: Mike’s father is much like Mike’s mother, he’s an enormous cliché, both in terms of general parents and those of Asian ethnicity – He’s the strict, no nonsense parent, who thinks his son is wasting his life doing something he loves because it’s not the type of profession that will bring honour and respect to him or their family, he wants to push Mike into becoming a doctor, whether he likes it or not – The closest Mike Sr. gets to becoming a fully fleshed out character, more than a cliché, is when he correctly points out that the entertainment industry, for singers, dancers, actors, etc. is so unstable, hard to get into and even more difficult to build up and maintain a career in, so of course all of this was just thrown away so that he could ‘learn his lesson’, so that he could just immediately throw his backing and support behind Mike after watching him dance at Sectionals. He made a few brief appearances, and since accepting Mike for who he is and what he wants he has not reappeared.
Julia Chang: Mike’s mother is very much a cliché, the stereotypical I never got to achieve my dreams, I won’t let you give up on yours! I’m supportive of you and your dream no matter what! – Her entire character is simply a supporter of Mike, someone to tell him not to give up as they did and they regret it, there’s not much more to her than that, which is a shame because it would have been nice to actually see her get a bit more development, find out about her, learn the type of person she is, but no - She’s a cliché, thrown in just so that the show could focus heavily on Mike’s father without looking like they were ignoring the mother out of their clear uninterest in exploring or developing female characters, especially those of colour. Julia has appeared twice, both times simply to cheer on Mike, since attending the school’s production of West Side Story she has not reappeared.
Mike Chang: A student a McKinley High School, involved in a committed relationship with one Tina Cohen-Chang and one of the very first members of the school’s glee club, New Directions, alongside Matt and Puck. Mike has been presented as a compassionate man, one who defends his friends and interested when he has to, and often without provocation also. He’s been shown to be a loving and committed boyfriend to Tina, their relationship being one a the few healthy, stable and happy on the show. Mike had next to no lines or character in the first season, this changed in season 2 when he began dating Tina, he was given more attention, more lines and enabled us to get a good idea of what type of person he was – He was a nice, calm man, whose passion in life is clearly dance, though it’s not his only love, when Mike first sang he was presented as being tone deaf, however it was clearly an area he wished to improve upon as he put in a lot of work in order to be able to sing, and sing well, this improvement resulted in him earning a part in the school’s production of West Side Story. Mike has been shown to place a lot of his decision making in the hands of what his family, most notably his father, wants for him, instead of what he wants for himself, though with Tina’s support he was able to convince himself and his father than there was nothing he wanted to do more in life then dance. Mike has been one of the most well developed and well written male characters on the show, but these moments are few, he’s still less focused on then many of the show’s other males, and sadly his default role on the show really does amount to nothing more than being a really good dancer.
And yet again, the POC on Glee are simply background extras, clichés, jokes or so unimportant and neglected you wonder why the actors portraying them put up with it, but then again maybe that isn’t such a mystery, maybe it’s because disgustingly enough this may be as good as a POC is likely to get, both on television and film.
there was also that period where Mike Chang was obsessed with Asian-this and Asian-that (Asian kisses, Asian camp, Asian couples counseling.) While this might be explained as a realistic part of the ethnic identity development model, the show never goes into it further than that and is just fixated by Mike’s Asian-ness.