romance writers

What Do Romance Writers Have in Common with the TV Show, Glee?

Absolutely nothing.

Don’t get me wrong. I watch Glee and I enjoy the music. But as far as the storyline goes, I’ve never seen such absolute poetic license in my entire life. The things these TV writers get away with leaves my mouth hanging open.

This past week I worked on edits for a book that’s due to be released before Halloween. It’s an LGBT take on the old book and movie, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.” The book I’m working on is a contemporary, paranormal romance. The main character is a former child star who moves to Provincetown to start a new life. In the original manuscript, I left his financial status open and ambiguous. He was the star of a successful sitcom; he has plenty of money; he doesn’t have to work. I thought that was enough. But the editor thought it was too ambiguous and I revised this part of the book with more valid details that were believable. The editor was right, and I think the character’s history is more believable now.

This sort of thing happens all the time. When a romance book goes to an editor, everything is triple checked to make sure it’s believable. We take a certain amount of license, but we try hard to get the facts right. We do this for the readers, and we never assume anything.

Last night, during Glee, one of the characters got a job as a school nurse. She never went to nursing school, had never worked near a medical environment, and her general background was in retail. But she got a job, on Glee, as the school nurse. If I were to write this in a romance, the romance reviewers would be off to battle and my blond hair would be flying all over the Internet. But more than that, I can say for sure that no public school system in this country would ever hire a retail clerk, in only one day, as a school nurse. School nurses, especially these days, are vetted and interviewed. And it’s not a simple process.

Now, this character on Glee could have been written into the storyline as a school cafeteria worker, which would have been fine. It would have blended with her past experience and they still could have worked her motives into the plot. It just leaves me wondering if these TV writers are stupid, uninformed, or they just don’t care.

Another one of the many things that make me wonder about Glee, is their approach toward infidelity. If I wrote a romance with blatant infidelity, the readers and reviewers would be ready for battle again. I’ve taken a few chances in the past. I wrote about a character who had affairs while he was on a break with his lover, and I’ve taken flack for it. In a romance book, infidelity in any form is a definite turn off.

But in Glee, they don’t seem to care about infidelity. One single, flaky school teacher is getting seriously involved with a married school teacher, and the writers make the married guy look like a saint. They portray this guy’s wife as a total creep who deserves to be cheated on. And they make the single school teacher appear as a vulnerable, wise angel, with a few unrealistic quirks. The wife really is a creep. But wouldn’t it be nicer if they made the husband realize this and leave the creep before he started to get involved with another school teacher on the sly?

On another level, I’m really tired of seeing school teachers portrayed as these pathetic, downtrodden types. In both Glee and Hung, the writers give the impression that school teachers, in general, are nothing more than poor slobs looking for something better in life. It’s misleading at best. I know a lot of school teachers. A dear friend, Joanne, is a school teacher in a public school in Brooklyn. She and the teachers I know love what they do and they are far from being poor slobs. They aren’t making millions, but they are making decent salaries, with good benefits, in very hard economic times. I know that teachers’ salaries vary in different parts of the country, as do living standards. But I also know that most teachers love and respect what they do.

I’ll still keep watching Glee. Partly for the music, and partly to see how far they will go. I have a feeling that they are going to raise infidelity to a much higher level. Higher than any steamy romance novel ever written.