Glee Gets After-School Sexy for GQ, Fuels “Lesbian” Fantasies & Conservative Fury

A new GQ photoshoot by Terry Richardson showcases a different side of Rachel Berry & Quin Fabray.

Lea Michele (who is 24), Dianna Agron (also 24) and Cory Monteith (28) posed for a cover story in which the actors revealed via body language that unlike their characters, they know something about sexyface and Cory knows a thing or two about cardigans.

Obviously the Parents Television Council President is very upset about this:

“It is disturbing that GQ, which is explicitly written for adult men, is sexualizing the actresses who play high school-aged characters on Glee in this way. It borders on pedophilia. Many children who flocked to High School Musical have grown into Glee fans. They are now being treated to seductive, in-your-face poses of the underwear-clad female characters posing in front of school lockers, one of them opting for a full-frontal crotch shot. By authorizing this kind of near-pornographic display, the creators of the program have established their intentions on the show’s direction.” – Parents Television Council President, Tim Winter

Hmm… except that Dianna & Lea are not children? I hope nobody takes him to see Spring Awakening, which Lea started working on while still in her teens. Anyhow, Scott Mendelson at The Huffington Post points out the obvious gender double-standard in the GQ shoot:

…just in case you need the obvious pointed out: the women are shot in overtly salacious poses in a state of semi-undress. Monteith is photographed fully clothed and (in his solo photos) engaging in relatively asexual behavior such as playing the drums or goofing off in the gym. I certainly don’t need or want to see Moneith’s bare ass or the man who plays Finn in any kind of compromising positions, but why is it that the women must be photographed with imagery out of a pornographic fantasy, while the male lead (and in fact most male actors in glossy photo shoots) get away with not doing so much as unbuttoning their top buttons?

Dorothy Snarker, Quasi-Sapphic Photoshoot Expert, had this to say:

I understand that all parties involved are, in fact, above the legal age of consent and therefore this photo isn’t technically underage. But, doesn’t it look underage? And isn’t that the nod and wink they’re trying to convey by it being set in a high school. Of course, it’s no surprise the shot was done by perennially plaid-shirted and bespectacled hipster photographer Terry Richardson. He gives almost all his shoots an uncomfortable, bad 70s porn feel. But what is supposed to be hot here is just, well, creepy.

Mark Salling unbuttoned a few buttons in May for GQ, come to think of it — surrounded by bikini-clad girls, howevs.

Jennifer Armstrong at Entertainment Weekly didn’t like it either, but for totally different reasons, namely – Ugh, Why?

Now, I’m all for being sexy. I love a sexy star, and I don’t oppose sexy stars being in various states of undress on camera. But does everything have to be sexed up? Gleeo why Glee‘s strain to prove to GQ‘s target demo of straight white men that it’s sexy? isn’t exactly a wholesome family show as it is, what with its “Push It” covers and premature ejaculation storylines …

…Apparently, when Glee goes “sexy,” the whitest and shiniest stars come to the front out of a huge cast remarkable for its diversity.

Anyhow it’s pretty clear that these actresses know a little bit more about sex than their characters do.

In the GQ interview, Ryan Murphy says:

“I didn’t want to do a family show. I wanted to do my version of a family show. But we try to be as responsible as we can, because we know some young people watch. Some of the humor goes over their head, hopefully.”

Thoughts/feelings on Glee gone wild?


Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Jess is a pop culture junkie living in New York City. She enjoys endless debates about The L Word, Howard Stern, new techy gadgets, DVR, exploring the labyrinth of the Lesbian Internet, memoirs, working out, sushi, making lists, artsy things, anything Lady Gaga touches, traveling, puppies, and nyc in the fall. Find her on Twitter @jessxnyc or via email.

Jess has written 240 articles for us.


  1. I dunno, I approve. I mean, I have massive crushes on both of them so this was SUCH A HUGE DEAL.
    Sure, they did pick three supa-white characters to do the shoot.
    And Cory was dressed. Which I’m so okay with.
    But both of these women are HOT SHIT so like, what’s the real issue here?
    GQ is not for children. I agree with the Spring Awakening sentiment – Lea is no stranger to sexytimes in front of audiences. Also none of them are NAKED…so like…not really an issue. Whatever. I approve of the photos and interview.

    • yes yes yes. Nothing as distracting as duckface. You don’t look enticing, you look like you’re trying to remember if you left the light on when you left this morning.

  2. I knew that Lea Michelle was a looker butt wow she is really geting very confident, she seems more confident than the blonde (sorry I have forgotten her name). Lea looks smoking Hot.

    • huh? confident?
      lea michele is simply more undressed and deeper in underage lolita porn mode than dianna agron, that’s all.
      seriously, the equating of showing lots of skin and being somewhat porny with confidence?! so grating on my nerves, it’s uebersexism rearing its ugly head.

  3. Why? That’s my most overwhelming thought. Why do women have to get naked and be objects to get attention in Hollywood? And why is Monteith wearing two human beings like Gaga wore meat to the VMAs? I mean. She’s on his shoulders like a mink shawl or something. WTF?

    I don’t really find the whole helpless naughty porn look attractive, I guess. I just want a woman to be a person. An adult person with thoughts and feelings.

    • That was my first sentiment, too. I get the motivation for showing attractive people in sexy situations in a photoshoot, don’t get me wrong. But there are so, so many other ways for women to be sexy that isn’t being portrayed like this.

      They’re both sexy women, and I can think of a dozen other sexy photoshoot ideas that wouldn’t make me feel like I’m being subjected to some pervy guy’s fantasy while looking at them.

      I’m sure that my opinion is partially fuelled by Terry Richardson’s endless grossness, but still.

  4. What bothers me the most is that while the actors are all adults, the characters they portray on the show are 15-16 years old. If they want to do a cast photoshoot, fine. They’re a good-looking bunch. But go the Mark Salling way and take it away from the highschool setting. Not only is it creepy, it also gives girls who are ACTUALLY IN highschool unrealistic expectations to feel that they need to live up to.

    • Agreed. Also, Glee totally is watched by children, I am 18 and in my last year of school in the UK, everyone from 11 upwards watches it. And there’s probably some younger kids that I don’t know about.

      It just…sexualises the whole show in a really creepy way IMHO.

      (Also, the photographer is notorious for taking dehumanising and borderline pornographic pictures of women.)

  5. I agree with nina that it would be more tasteful/less creepy if they moved away from a high school setting for the photoshoot.

    But as far as the Parents Television Council is concerned, they said it best. GQ – “which is explicitly written for adult men” – is probably not being read by many schoolchildren. The photoshoot is for GQ (i.e., adult men) not for TV Guide or Seventeen Magazine or whatever. Get over yourselves.

    • Yes, but we’ve all seen them haven’t we?

      Pics like these go around the whole Glee fansphere, probably most Glee fans have or will see them.

  6. Also, the fact that Cory is fully dressed and both women are in underwear is very porn-like. Ew. At least Rolling Stone or Vanity Fair would have had them all in their underwear, right?

  7. Eh, these kinds of racy photos don’t really bother me. maybe I’m just a product of my generation? this certainly isn’t the first time we’ve seen a teen idol like britney, christina, mandy, etc etc etc pose provocatively for a photo shoot and it didn’t change/warp/mess with my sexuality or sexual expression as a teen in any way (though seeing christina’s videos def-o made me notice my very prominent attraction to women..but see i said NOTICE, not CREATE, you silly parents!)

    however, what DOES annoy me is the fact that the two girls are hanging all over the guy all desperate and vapid looking while he stands there with a stupid goofy grin like “hell yeah guys who read GQ, if you buy the cologne on page 7 and the tie on page 18 you can have this too!”

    Couldn’t they have at least included ONE photo where the girls looked interested in each other and not a man-fantasy threesome? sure, it wouldn’t have done anything helpful for the Concerned Parents of America, but it would’ve made this lil feminist lesbian a happier camper.

  8. i’m not into it. and i’m the least bit of a prude. just kinda tasteless? and also cheapens the contents/lessons of the show.

    at least dianna kept most of her clothes on. and i’m a firm believer that a skirt leaves more to the imagination than spreading your legs in white panties?

    the ptc annoys me. but even though it’s GQ and meant for a ‘male mature audience’ it’ll take little less than a quick GLEE google search to pop these photos up to preteens. tsk. tsk.

    at the end of the day, i do truly believe that this show is marketed in a disneyesque fashion without feeling it’s necessary to also keep up disneyesque appearances. the backlash is expected.

  9. Lea Michele causes a puddle of drool to form on the floor in front of me…I mean…aklshdasjlumwut? yesplease.

    But the thing I object to is how Lea Michele & Dianna Agron are clearly just sex symbols in this photoshoot while Cory Monteith is “average joe” with his hands on TWO asses WEARING ALL HIS CLOTHES and a face that says “DUDE I TOTALLY HIT THIS SHIT BRO.”

    Come on. If you wanna be sexy, make everyone sexy. Why isn’t his tie half undone with his shirt unbuttoned? Why isn’t he wearing boxer briefs with no pants? We can’t even see his collarbone for chrissake. Not that I have a particular urge to be that familiar with no-clothes-Cory-Monteith, but fair is fair.

    But…uh…holy fuck Lea Michele. Just. What. Oh my god. I have had a crush on her since the first episode of Glee and I have been proved so right.

  10. I will never understand socks and high heels. I mean, would you wear socks with sandals? The answer is no, grandpa. Unless you do. Then your b.

    Also, these pictures are terrible. Not because they are too ‘sexy’ but because Lea Michele and Dianna Agron look awful. Close your mouths girls, you look like fish.

  11. I have no smart, relevant or witty comment about this photo shoot. I don’t doubt parents are outraged, and children are confused.

    I, however, am so turned on right now.

  12. More problematic for me is that the actors worked with a predator like Terry Richardson. Considering the many accusations of sexual coercion based on his power, that is what is disturbing. Imagine being a 18 year old model thinking a session with a famous photographer will make their career, arriving to the session, and realizing that he is manipulating you one by one from taking off your clothes to masturbating him as his people egg you on. Jezebel’s coverage of this predator can easily be googled. He has come under attack and the only reason he has survived is due to friendships in high places.

    It is one thing to do sexy photos. It is another to do sexy photos for man who is a predator on other, not so powerful, women.

  13. not only does terry richardson give all his photographs a 70s porn feel (which i don’t care about), he is a predator. straight up PREDATOR (which i do care about):

    i LOVED the photospread until i found out who did it. sorry, got a knee jerk reaction that ruined it for me. sort of like if i saw a polanski film with all the credits removed and then someone told me who made it. okay, not that bad, but you know what i’m talking about.


  14. I just need to say that I initially read it as “conservative furries” and was a bit concerned.

  15. Everything about this photo shoot grosses me out. I don’t even know where to start with this one…
    I mean…for a show that claims to be so much about diversity, doing a shoot with GQ seems to me like it would ALWAYS be a bad idea for exactly the same reasons that, well, this doesn’t really work.
    1) OMFG this is so heteronormative that I want to rip my hair out
    2) they picked three white stars.
    basically, I think the biggest issue with the shoot is that it was so clearly made for GQ’s white male demographic, which is why this was a terrible idea. Pick a different mag for racy covers. and, you know, another male to feature. and have them all be in equal states of undress (not that I want to see naked men, but my god it’s only right).
    Anyway, EPIC FAIL.

  16. Holy crap! Someone needs to spank Lea for being so very naughty!
    It’s ok guys, I’ll volunteer.
    Naughty comes natural to Lea, from the looks of it.

    • yes, i mentioned this earlier in the thread. i hope people keep posting that link.


      geez. hello?

  17. The thing is, I think both Diana and Lea are incredibly sexy ladies but for some reason this photoshoot did not do them justice.

    • I didn’t read any of the comments but now that I’ve realized I’ve said pretty much the same exact thing you said in the same manner, I just feel really dumb.


  18. uh. they’re hot pictures for the readers of a men’s magazine. lets not take these out of context, eh? they’re advertisements. demolishing all the institutionalized racism in the world isn’t going to change the fact that some people (myself included) like seeing pretty girls in short skirts.

  19. Hi people.
    Just wanted to say that I love Terry Richardson’s photos and that other lezzies agree with me. (
    The dude might be a creep, but isn’t cases about sexual assaults something for the justice system to handle?
    I just think his photos are awesome and shocking and the girls look like they’re having more fun than in the usual fashion shoots.
    These particular glee photos are a bit too much with the whole little school girl thing and the dressed boy undressed girls thing. But I think they’re hot.

    • “The dude might be a creep, but isn’t cases about sexual assaults something for the justice system to handle?”

      does someone else want to take this?

        • I’ll take it! With pleasure.

          There’s a whole fuckload of reasons why just letting the justice system handle this is a shitty idea. I’ll give you two for starters:

          1) TR made a bunch of money as a result of his behavior. His awful behavior. If people don’t buy the magazine because he’s an awful person, then the magazine won’t use him because they’ll lose money. If the magazine won’t use him, he won’t be in a position where he can further harm women. And he can’t make money off of the exploitation of women.

          2) Deviance is socially constructed. The way we punish criminals is socially constructed. Unfortunately, white upper-class men have a way with getting away with sexual assault because of privilege-related issues. By not purchasing the magazine, we’re beginning to revise the social construction of what is okay and what is not okay. Basically, sexually assaulting women is not okay.

          Basically it boils down to not supporting a really awful man and not letting him use his trade to exploit women.

  20. “The dude might be a creep, but isn’t cases about sexual assaults something for the justice system to handle?”

    “does someone else want to take this?”

    I’ll take a shot at it.
    I’m not exactly sure who coined the phrase “if you’re not apart of the solution, you’re part of the problem” but that seems to fit here. The objectification of women is exactly why “In the United States, 1.3 women are raped every minute.”

    This is why we can’t just “leave it to the justice system to handle.” And if you haven’t been a victim of sexual assault of at the very least known someone who has, then, you either live in heaven or ignorance has seriously been your bliss.
    And, if I’m coming off harsh sounding forgive me but, how else are we gonna keep from perpetuating the idea that women are just rugs to be stepped on and a abused?

    • i’d like to add these borrowed words from feminism101

      “Rape culture is ignoring the way in which professional environments that treat sexual access to female subordinates as entitlements of successful men can be coercive and compromise enthusiastic consent.”
      “Rape culture is people objecting to the detritus of the rape culture being called oversensitive, rather than people who perpetuate the rape culture being regarded as not sensitive enough.”

  21. I understand the criticism of the Glee girls being undressed while Cory is dressed but are we not forgetting something. GQ is a men’s magazine and its target audience is heterosexual men so why would a straight guy want to look at a half naked guy in whats suppose to be a sexy photo shoot. This is not a photo shoot for Rolling Stone (true blood all naked cover issue of e.g.) but GQ. Plus if you want racial diversity in the photo shoot look up Naya (Santana)in Google images, she has a lot of sexy pics since she is a model as well as an actress. Also getting back to unrealistic stereotypes of women, why only women? I notice that the girls are not complaining about the unrealistically ripped guys which are often semi naked on the show. Do you have any idea how hard you have to exercise to maintain a ripped washboard stomach. I’m not saying that the majority of female characters are not unrealistically thin or that its easier to be a thin girl than a ripped guy but all I’m saying is if you’re going to criticize body shapes be consistent all across the board. Don’t be a hypocrite just because you like seeing abs.

  22. 1) UGH Terry Richardson. Disgusting man.
    3) Dianna looks so much better than Lea. Classy and sexy goes a long way.
    4) Corey is so awkward it’s killing me, why is he even there? (well, for people to project themselves into him so they can be with the sexay laydays too, but still)
    5) Oh parent, like children would be reading GQ.

  23. All things being equal, any day in which one gets to simultaneously Fuel Lesbian Fantasies AND Conservative Fury, is a good day by me…

  24. Cory cannot look sexy. This just seals it. I remember seeing some behind the scenes Glee photoshoots where the photog was like, “OK, just act like you’re really good-looking.” All he knows how to do is smile. He can’t do the “come fuck me” eyes to the camera. He looks silly in these photos with the girls doing their sex kitten poses. Dianna Argon is beautiful but I actually prefer her… clothed. The photos look kind of awkward.

    As for it being inappropriate or suggestive because it’s in a high school — whatever. These people don’t remotely look like they are in high school. And what kids are reading GQ? If the media didn’t make a huge deal out of it, most kids, except for the super die-hards, would’ve never seen it. In short: BFD.

  25. Beautiful women are great, beautiful women as Smirking-Finn-Hudson-Decoration is just a bit creepy to me…

Comments are closed.