Why I Love and Hate (But Mostly Hate) Lea Michele

by the mick on March 31, 2010

in Theater Confessions

Lea and Rachel...sometimes, its hard to separate the two.

Lea and Rachel...sometimes, its hard to separate the two.

Lea Michele.  As a theater fan I’ve had the privilege of love/hating her for years.  I coined her ‘Man-Hands Michele’ years before the writers on Glee even had the chance to dream up that joke.  But now, as the rest of the country begins to root for Lea as the loveable pain-in-the-ass Rachel Berry, my opinion seems to confuse people.

For years, it confused me too.  For years I felt bad about not being on board the Lea Michele is Awesome Express.  I mean, Jonathan Groff has always loved her.  And she can sing like a BAMF.  Shouldn’t that be enough evidence for me?  For some reason, it wasn’t.

Because despite all the awesome things about her—and there are lots of those things—something just felt off.  It was difficult to pinpoint exactly, but her whole life seemed like a performance.  Like every last word or smile was dripping with condescension .  Like despite her chipper smile Lea only deigned to perform for us, to speak to us, to even breathe the same air as us, not because it meant anything to her, but because it would get her somewhere.  And we—all of us, from Jonathan right on down—were beneath her.  Useful only because our adoration could prove she was worthy of even more adoration, could make her more famous.

For years I felt bad about this.  I was sure I didn’t have any real reason to feel this way, to believe these things.  I was convinced I had to be wrong and even felt embarrassed by my love/hate for Lea.  I thought it made me seem like a crazy, jealous Jonathan Groff Fan-Girl, and even in 2007 I was at least a decade too old for that kind of behavior.  And worse.  I wondered if it meant I actually was a jealous Jonathan fan.  Guiltily, I swallowed my feelings.

Thankfully, last year, Lea herself relieved me of that guilt.  One night late in 2009, she and I attended the same party.  At first, this seemed really cool.  I mean, here Lea was, at the same silly Broadway party I was attending.  She was mingling with the little people!  Only.  She never did mingle with the little people.  She refused.  To the point where even the venue staff was seriously unimpressed with her, and quite vocal about that fact.

“Who does she think she is? Even Meryl Streep mingles and poses for photos when she comes here!” remarked one of the waitresses.  Repeatedly.

Poof.  The Mick’s Irish Guilt, gone.  Right there, just like that.  Because let me tell you, Lea wouldn’t have had to beat people back with a stick.  It wouldn’t have turned into a riot.  Most of the attendees didn’t even see her.  As the night ended and she walked back to the VIP area—where we were standing—I watched Lea point blank refuse the lone young man who told her he loved her and asked for a quick photo.  None of the rest of us even said a word.  Foul.  Turns out I wasn’t totally imagining her superiority complex.  It was real, and now I’d seen it in action.

The thing about Lea is, I can’t totally hate her.  Because maybe she was just having a bad night.  Despite everything, I want to give her the benefit of the doubt.  She’s human, after all.  More complex than I can sort out in the time I’ve spent around her.  And besides, it’s not like she’s Tiger Woods.  She’s not despicable.  She’s just…weirdly disingenuous.  And sometimes she’s not very nice.  And yes, that turns me off.  It makes me kind of hate her some days.

But none of that changes the fact that she’s one of the most talented performers of her generation.  None of that erases that shining moment when she stands alone on the stage, in the spotlight, and belts out “Taking Chances” so your heart pounds and you fist pump with joy because, oh my god, a Theater Girl just nailed it in front of the entire nation.  And that, I have to root for.

Photo Credit: thetvaddict.com

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Lala March 31, 2010 at 1:15 pm

I love Lea totally at this point, her personal bitch person or not. Something about her on Glee and her being a celebrity when the collective “we” have watched her grow. I also have friends that knew her pre-Spring awakening from high school and say she was a bit socially awkward. Which has been reiterated to me via people who have met her more recently in the threatre community. I have many friends with many bad stories about interacting with her in a stage door wat – but at her and Jon’s Cabaret show she seemed more than happy to pose with some fans (there werent a TON asking, but still) and seemed very chipper and excited to see old Spring Awakening faces. I cried when she sang Don’t Rain On My Parade, killer. PLUS, I mean, Jon loves her…right???

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Kimmy March 31, 2010 at 1:30 pm

I think I have to agree with you on your mixed feeling. I’ve also had the same feelings you did over the last few years. And with Glee now, all the interviews seem like she is putting on a performance. Everything is so wonderful! And she often says “my cast” and “my show” not that there is anything wrong with it but they way she says things, makes it seem as it’s all about her and everyone else can go by the way-side.

That being said, she is an amazing performer. I just hope the new success doesn’t completely go to her head, though supposedly she’s become the diva on set.

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Jack March 31, 2010 at 1:48 pm

We have mutual friends and have hung out in the same group a few times, and she has been nothing but sweet, and completely genuinely nice. My only guess to her behavior is that, contrary to popular belief, she actually does not like people fawning over her. From my understanding from friends, she had quite a few stalkers and just people who followed her home from the stagedoor, and that really scared her and turned her off from some fans. It only takes one to ruin the fun for everyone else.

I don’t know her in a professional setting, so I can’t vouch for how she acts on set or backstage, but I can say that she is an absolute sweetheart.

Edit (The Mick):
Thank you so much for sharing that. I wanted to be honest about my conflicted feelings, and about the fact that I’ve at least stopped feeling guilty about having conflicted feelings. But I don’t actually want to dislike Lea. Stories like this go a long way to helping me get on board the Lea Michele is Awesome Express. I just hope there’s enough room once I come around! ;)

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Valerie June 17, 2010 at 8:40 am

Well, the assumptions aren’t too far off. A few friends of mine performed in a benefit with Ms. Lea while she was in LA filming the pilot for Glee (circa fall 2008), and they too had the same reaction. Pre-show, she would not even mingle or socialize with the other broadway actors (ie: Laura Bell Bundy, Eden Espinosa). Because it was a benefit, all of the actors were having dinner together, and Lea refused. Also, by show’s end, all of the actors were participating in the live auction, working on getting bids higher, and Ms. Lea decided she was going to leave early and not participate. I have the same love/hate for her, because I do think she is extremely talented, and lucky to have such an amazing best friend (Mr. Groff), but this story will ALWAYS be in the back of my head when it comes to this girl. And even now, as stories start to surface about her Diva-tude, all I can say is, “well, it isn’t the first time I’ve heard this!”

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Frank June 19, 2010 at 11:01 pm

I still don’t get the big deal. I guess I can just enjoy her work and I don’t care one way or the other.

So she isn’t Ms.Congeniality what difference does it make? Why put so much energy into hate for someone they will at most have a passing interaction with? Some people act as if she is a serial killer, She is just a person, why they feel the need to constantly go after her make me wonder about them more than her.

Let the other stuff go and if you like her work great, if you don’t, skip it.

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Sue December 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Well if you think about it she doesn’t really have a personal life anymore it’s all lea will you sign this and that and tbh if ye don’t know her personally like off camera and stage then you can’t really judge. I think she’s lovely but just gets frustrated that she doesn’t have a full life like paparazzi is always following no matter what she does so maybe she just isn’t used to having to handle it like spring awakening fans weren’t so in your face as fans now

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Eric W. June 28, 2011 at 12:45 am

If people much more famous than Lea Michele can manage to be decent to fans, and mingle with the “little people” from time to time, then I don’t see why she can’t do the same.

If people have seen her being nice to fans, in a way that seemed genuine, when the cameras weren’t rolling, that’s the sort of thing that makes me reconsider my opinion of her. But arguing that because she’s a celebrity, and she can’t have the social life of an anonymous person, that means she can treat her fans however she wants, and no one can ever judge her….that’s not too persuasive.

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Jim November 4, 2012 at 6:10 am

I have heard tons of report that she has been just fine with fans not to mention pictures all over the place. And really everyone has a camera now days so she only does it for cameras is moot.

Some times she signs and some times she doesn’t. She is hardly the worse and I think this diva and bitch stuff is highly exaggerated.

Anyway unitl people walk in her shoes they have no idea. I know I wouldn’t want to stop for everyone and I know sometimes I would probably be off but do it anyway.

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Victoria September 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Hey, i really love Lea Michele, she’s my idol, my inspiration. Her voice is amazing and she acts very well… her expressions. Maybe the reason that you said that she didn’t want to be with little people is because she had had a bad night. But don’t judge people, if you hear Lea’s laugh you can feel that she’s a sweet and a good person:)

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