Glee’s Depiction of “Asperger’s” DISGUSTING

“I have self-diagnosed Asperger’s so I can pretty much say whatever I want…I’m pretty much like a diplomat’s daughter.” Then the character proceeds to be an obnoxious no talent brat.

Yo Glee. WTF? My kid’s not going to understand this. She’s going to think this is how people view her. Thank God Todd and I screen the show before ever letting her watch it. We’ve spent the evening discussing what we’ll say to explain this to her. Better hearing it from us, than from one of her friends, or anyone else.

My daughter has better manners than almost any child you will ever meet. My daughter would never act the entitled brat. We can’t even figure out what the point was for the character to even be on the show.  I’m so sick of Asperger’s/autism being the Hollywood flavor of the week.

Riley described Glee Live over the summer as “the best day of her life.”

I hope the show she loves so much, the show about outsiders finding a place to belong, doesn’t wind up being the thing that makes her ashamed of having Asperger’s. I hope Glee doesn’t break her heart.

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21 Responses to Glee’s Depiction of “Asperger’s” DISGUSTING

  1. *m* says:

    Sigh. This is the problem with “Glee.” Music fantastic, dialogue often completely offensive.

    I know it’s by design — “pushing the envelope” blah blah blah. But it makes it tough for a parent. And what the hell is this show doing on at 8 o’clock? Remember when that time slot used to be filled with kid/family-appropriate shows? (I date myself…)

    I will say that I don’t think this was a “depiction” of Asperger’s — this character was using the ‘flavor of the week’ as an excuse to speak without a filter. Dreadful, yes. But if I had to discuss this with Riley, I would make that point. This character did NOT have Asperger’s (she was “self-diagnosed,”remember). A tasteless bit — one of many on this show.

    Do you have DVR? Can you blow through that scene?

    I am so sorry you have to deal with this. I love the performance aspects of “Glee” but as a parent, I do find a lot of the rest of it awfully hard to take.

  2. *m* says:

    Meant to add (unrelated) that I love the new header photo at the top of the page!

  3. Elspeth says:

    I don’t actually watch Glee, though I can see how it would be an addictive show (I’ve watched a few YouTube clips).

    I thought about the quote (only the quote, I didn’t watch the episode). If you break the “joke” down to the bare bones it seems to come down to this:

    – Villain character announces that she has a “self-diagnosed” condition. This is playing on the common internet fad lately for people to self-diagnose with various conditions… Here is an interesting article addressing this:
    (A lot of the “diseases” aren’t really)
    – Villain character announces that because of her condition, she should receive all of the accomodations commonly associated with said condition.
    – Because the character doesn’t actually have the condition, it also means that she has none of the drawbacks that would require the accomodations.
    – The audience is now completely aware of how villainous this character is. Villains in talent-related shows are rarely talented.

    None of those things actually say bad things about people with Aspergers, except that some people (mostly “bad” ones) feel jealous of their perceived accomodations.

    That said, since one of the drawbacks to having Aspergers is that it’s harder to understand social situations and jokes, it’s cruel to them to make the joke in the first place.

  4. Yes, *M*. We TIVO and always screen and skip parts that are inappropriate. I would totally blow by it and not even let her see it, probably will. But she is bound to hear about it. The character did not have Asperger’s but the implication was that those with Asperger’s are rude and ridiculous and bratty and that’s why the character used the label to her advantage.

    It pains me because these kids are so vulnerable. They’ve had to work very hard to overcome so many challenges. My daughter, (and yours *M* are probably two of the sweetest, most polite kids anyone is ever going to meet). I believe the show propagated a negative stereotype about Asperger’s for a cheap laugh. Not funny.

    (thanks about the header pic. I love it too. A more grown up version of the header on the old blog).

  5. Dee Ready says:

    Michelle, I’m so sorry that the program Riley most enjoys has chosen to fail her and all the children and adults who live with Asperger’s.

    I have Meniere’s Disease and for a very brief while, it was a flavor also. The depictions were so inaccurate that the “flavoring” did a great disservice to all of us who live with that disease.

    Why is it that these program choose to show the differences between us and not the similarities?

    I trust that you and your husband will find the words to help Riley.


  6. Jamie says:

    I don’t like GLEE not for any reason in particular just couldn’t get into it, I’m sorry though for you and yours that Riley’s fav show could turn out to be a heart breaker and I sure hope it doesn’t…..

  7. Elspeth says:

    I notice you’ve been delaying publishing my comment that I left this morning. Sorry if I’ve offended in any way and I won’t be insulted if you remove it.

    All the best 🙂

  8. Michelle O'Neil says:


    I didn’t see a comment from you. Perhaps it got stuck in a spam filter? Let me check.

    —Yep…that’s where it was. Not offended at all by your comment! Thank you for leaving it.

  9. Meghan says:

    Completely understand how you feel. As someone who has Asperger’s, I felt like I was smacked in the face. Completely changed how I viewed the writers of Glee and it makes me wonder if they were making personal jabs at someone off-camera in their real lives. It felt personal.

  10. *m* says:

    I’ve been thinking about this all day. Another irony is that “Glee” characters (Sue and Becky) have recently appeared in a pretty powerful PSA against the “R word.” ( ) It does kind of seem like the show wants to have it both ways, doesn’t it? Such sensitive treatments of Sue’s sister’s Downs and the gay characters’ struggles; too bad the sensitivity ended there.

    I may just have to skip all the plot and dialogue in future but have to admit I am a sucker for the musical numbers. (Full disclosure: Mad crush on Darren Criss.)

  11. kario says:

    The timing of this is so perfect for me. I have been begged by Eve to watch Glee for nearly a year now and have put off making a decision. I haven’t ever seen the show and the time required to watch it alone first (preview) and then watch it with her is hard for me – not a TV watcher under the best of circumstances.

    I recently had a conversation with Eve’s PE teacher who loves the show and she believes that so much of the content is appropriate for kids older than her that it is important for families to do what you and HT do – namely watch it with their children and use it as a tool to discuss important issues. I have promised Eve that I will preview a couple of episodes by the end of the week and make a decision, but I must say that the notion of spending a few hours a week on Glee feels daunting.

    That said, I believe you and HT are doing the right thing by your kids in engaging with them about the show they love. I am so sad that the writers felt it necessary to go for a cheap laugh rather than use their formidable powers of persuasion to help deepen the understanding of kids who are “different.”

  12. Carrie Link says:

    Oy. That’s so disappointing!


  13. Liz says:

    Michelle – Sorry about the second comment. I just assumed that ALL comments were moderated, and that you’d see the second one and delete if the first one was offending… (if that makes sense). Then my second comment popped right up and I was so surprised! Anyways, thanks for checking and glad that I didn’t offend.

  14. Michelle O'Neil says:

    I think the comment was put in Spam because it had a link in it. No worries!

  15. Amanda says:

    Yet again a condition is misrepresented on TV. I’ve lost count of the number of times diabetes has been hogwashed, and autism/aspergers has never been correctly depicted unless it was a documentary and then not always…. grrr…..rant coming on….stopping now.

    Hope Riley is able to understand their ignorance

  16. Lydia says:

    Unfortuately (VERY unfortunately), I’ve come to realize that the world’s perception of autism, especially Asperger’s, is that those who have it are dorky, rude, inappropriate…. etc, etc. When I disclose that I have autism, the most common response I get is, “Well, you must be very HF then!” Truth be told, I’m rather more in the middle. I want to know why they assume HF. Because I’m cute and dress well? Because I’m attending a group with “normal” people? Do they fail to notice the fact that I tend to walk off while they’re still talking, that I always have staff at my side, that I’m shivering and shaking and wearing sunglasses due to the lights? I don’t know.

    I guess I’m slightly off topic, but it’s all about perception. Perception of autism is what I’m set out to change.

  17. Xanthe Wyse says:

    I don’t watch Glee, but I find such a terrible portrayal appalling. It’s not like we have enough stigma already. Unfortunately, there are some rather outspoken people that claim to have AS as an excuse to be obnoxious eg Penelope Trunk

  18. Leah says:

    Wow! I haven’t watch Glee since the first season because while it was funny at times, I started to realize it was pretty offensive and I found that all the characters were essentially lying to one and another. I quickly realized I didn’t need that kind of negativity in my life and stopped watching it ever since. When shows do stuff like this, they really miss a huge opportunity to teach about a tough subject. I’m sure your daughter has more class than any of those characters on Glee (autistic or not!).

  19. smileeeE333 says:

    For anyone who’s interested, here is a Facebook campaign related to this issue:
    Let’s send a message that this is not okay!

  20. Pingback: » Asperger’s Disorder and Glee Dr Stephanie

  21. Me says:

    Unfortunately its how aspies are seen. Like it or not, its how they are perceived by the general public.

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