Up until the end of season one, Glee’s Rachel Berry managed to be endearing despite of (and even because of) her faults. Yet so far, her season two incarnation has become increasingly unlikable.
Glee’s Rachel Berry: Season One
In season one of Glee, viewers became well-acquainted with Rachel’s faults. She is often selfish and self-absorbed, as seen when she quit glee club after Mr. Schue gave Tina a solo. At the same time, she is also painfully insecure, as seen when she realizes that her crush on Mr. Schue was a result of her belief that no boy would ever like her.
Yet despite Rachel’s high opinion of herself, her annoying drama queen antics, and tendency to wear sweaters with animal prints on them, she was still a thoughtful introspective character who would always do the right thing in the end. She gave Mercedes the solo at sectionals and was willing to accept responsibility to blabbing to Finn about Puck and Quinn.
Glee’s Rachel Berry: Sunshine
So far in season two, Rachel has become a caricature of herself. She is more selfish, more controlling, and more annoying. Her insecurities and vulnerabilities have lost their endearing charm.
Rachel stooped to new lows when she sent Sunshine to the crack house. It took Finn’s prodding for her to finally admit that she had felt threatened by Sunshine’s talents. Rachel was not willing to put the interests of the group ahead of her desire for the limelight.
Rachel’s treatment of Sunshine was a direct contrast to Finn’s treatment of Jesse. Finn was able to welcome Jesse to New Directions despite the fact that Jesse had taken his girlfriend and would be taking his solos.
Glee’s Rachel Berry: Treatment of Finn
Rachel’s treatment of Finn this season has been utterly cringe-worthy. She’s a “controllist” who seems to treat him like a lap dog. She expects him to cater to her every whim and to be a “loser” in order to ensure that hot cheerleaders would not pursue him.
Out of jealousy and insecurity, she tries to keep him off the football team, arguing that “this relationship can only work if we are both losers.” Has she ever thought about the fact that football keeps him in shape and allows him to pursue something that could get him into college?
And she continually second-guesses him. Despite Finn’s promise to publicly declare his first touchdown to her, she asks Quinn to “test” him.
Although I’m not necessarily a Puckleberry shipper, I do believe that Puck was better able to challenge her and to call her out on her antics. Finn just doesn’t seem to have the chops to hold his own with her. With Puck, she was spunky and vivacious, but with Finn she just comes across as needy and controlling.
Glee’s Rachel Berry: Why this is a Problem
Because Rachel is the female lead on the show, she, Will, and Finn are the main characters, so they will generally have more screen time and more solos. Because we see so much of Rachel, it’s important for us to like her.
Many TV characters like Blair Warner (Facts of Life), Whitley Gilbert (A Different World), and even Quinn Fabray are able to sell themselves as lovable spoiled brats. Having negative character traits is not a problem in and of itself. It’s okay for Rachel to be self-absorbed and controlling. We just need to be able to like her despite these qualities.
I can accept the fact that my favorites, Brittany and Mike Chang will never be the main characters. Glee clearly wants us to love Rachel and to root for Finchel. I want to like Rachel again, but so far this season, she’s making it difficult.