Originally, Glen and Glenda were yet another example of the transgender killer trope. ‘Chucky’ has corrected its past mistakes and stuck the landing.
Early on, Chucky made it clear that any character from the franchise’s history may make an appearance. From the return of Andy Barclay himself to fan-favorite Tiffany Valentine, the series is a love letter to its most loyal followers. That being said, even the franchise’s biggest fans largely acknowledge that there have been some missteps in its history, which is why introducing Glen and Glenda to the show came as a bit of a surprise.
Despite reservations about this creative choice, the team behind Chucky has quickly proved that fans have nothing to worry about. By updating Glen and Glenda to be more compatible with modern sensibilities, the twins may prove to be some of the franchise’s most interesting characters yet.
Glen and Glenda’s Odd Origins
When Glen and Glenda joined the picture in Seed of Chucky, the franchise was in its horror-comedy era, which originated some of its most distinctive aspects. While its predecessor, Bride of Chucky, achieved cult classic status for its unexpected humorous direction, Seed of Chucky became infamous for its deeply bizarre comedic choices— chief among them being the characterization of Glen and Glenda.
In the film, Chucky and Tiffany meet a doll who believes themself to be their child. Chucky insists the child is a boy and should be called Glen, while Tiffany argues that they’re a girl and should be named Glenda. When asked, the doll replies they don’t know what they are. During the film, the doll switches between identifying as Glen and Glenda and changes their pronouns and presentation accordingly. However, for the majority of the time, the doll goes by Glen and is referred to with he/him pronouns. Additionally, Glen and Glenda were voiced by Billy Boyd, a male actor, and were introduced in the outfit that they wear as Glen.
Although there is an argument to be made that this portrayal could count as genderfluid representation— which is then backed up by Chucky himself in Season 1 of the TV series— the horror comedy era of the franchise was the most referential time in its history. With an awareness of tropes of the horror genre in mind, as well as the way the film was received by general audiences, the more realistic interpretation of this iteration of the character represents a comedic take on one of horror’s most harmful tropes— the crossdressing killer.
A Problematic Portrayal
From Psycho to Silence of the Lambs to Sleepaway Camp, the horror genre has a long history of portraying feminized characters played by male actors as unhinged killers motivated by their ties to womanhood. Although these characters are rarely explicitly transgender, they are coded as such, and that may as well make it so to viewers who don’t know the difference. More often than not, these crossdressing murders’ feelings about gender were caused by their mothers, which appears to be the case with Glen in Seed of Chucky.
Prior to meeting Tiffany, Glen dressed masculinely, had short hair, and displayed no signs of Glenda’s existence. After meeting Tiffany, Glen’s uncertainty surfaced, implying that Glenda either manifested to please Tiffany or was a result of Tiffany confusing Glen, which mirrors the origins of other horror movie villains of this kind. Also like those killers, Glen doesn’t become violent until switching to Glenda.
Glenda’s appearance is very similar to Tiffany’s. This may be satirizing the trope that mothers are responsible for their child’s homicidal feelings, or it could simply be that Tiffany’s clothes and wigs were the only easily accessible doll-sized makeover tools. Either way, it’s Glenda who sadistically kills an innocent woman with a hairspray-powered flamethrower. Notably, this weapon is fueled by a traditionally feminine object. Shortly thereafter, Chucky attempts to murder Tiffany, which causes Glenda to switch back to Glen, who heroically defends his mother. Although he does kill Chucky to do so, it’s a noble act of protection that’s common among male characters in horror.
If Seed of Chucky were given the benefit of the doubt, it could be the case that this portrayal was meant to mock films like Psycho. After all, it is played for laughs. Still, if that was the intention, the writing wasn’t strong enough to make that clear, and while it all may seem silly, it did perpetuate the ongoing message that confusion surrounding gender identity is not only the result of a psychological issue caused by bad parenting, but is also something to be feared because it may take a dangerous turn. Thankfully, this trope became largely unpopular when people were informed that transgender and gender-nonconforming people are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than perpetrators, which paved the way for updated versions of Glen and Glenda.
The Improved Televised Twins
With just a few tweaks, Chucky was able to make Glen and Glenda stay true to their origin story while also undoing its mistakes. At the end of Seed of Chucky, Glen and Glenda were transferred into twin human babies, allowing both of them to exist simultaneously. Because their consciousness was transferred into infant-sized brains, the twins grew up without the knowledge that they once lived as a sentient doll. This allowed Glen and Glenda to have relatively normal coming-of-age experiences, which eliminates the idea that they were confused about their genders due to abnormal circumstances.
In the episodes they’ve appeared in so far, Glen and Glenda have made it clear that they’re both secure in their gender identities and expression. They arrive on the scene in a car with a “they/them” license plate and later state that they present themselves androgynously in part to remind others of their pronouns. Additionally, both twins are played by nonbinary actor Lachlan Watson.
By making both twins certain they’re nonbinary, Glen and Glenda were able to retain personality traits from their past lives without implying those traits are a result of gender confusion. Glen remains the gentler of the two, while Glenda is still willing to kill. However, Glenda’s violent actions thus far have been spurred by extreme circumstances, such as discovering Nica Pierce was being held hostage in their home. With their new characterization, both twins feel more human in the literal and figurative sense. These changes have not only rectified the issues with Glen and Glenda’s first appearance, but also turned them into genuinely compelling characters who will influence the trajectory of the story ahead.