Within the last several weeks, “Glee” episodes have included plotlines revolving around a school shooting and a young man coming out and admitting he was sexually molested when he was younger. Personally I find these two items to be far more intense and potentially controversial than the 2010 complaints, but this is a perception of mine and I can’t say if everyone agrees with me or not.
I understand that “Glee” is a mainstream show and that it can indeed be a great way for young people to hear about certain problems. But at the same time, “can” and “should” are not the same, and if you do cover a controversial issue, you darn well better handle it well – don’t just do it because you want your ratings to get a boost. (But who are we kidding there?)
Does anyone else see the problem here? An episode daring to take on something as intense and frightening as a school shooting needs to be ready to talk about that event; instead, after maybe ten or fifteen minutes, the school lockdown ended and the episode went right along, and we went back to talking about the mystery person who pretended to be “Katie.” By trying to do too much the show undermined its efforts before it even began – efforts, of course, that probably shouldn’t have even been undertaken at the time.
Now, I understand this is a real mindset that exists – oh boy, do I understand that. But isn’t the point of the show that these kids learn that these sorts of mindsets and assumptions are wrong? Do you think anyone make an effort to go back and show a transformation in the mistaken young men’s mindset during the rest of the episode? NOPE!
Given the severity of cases of sexual molestation and abuse and the fact that so many people have a double standard when it comes to the way female and male victims are treated, this failure to address the other character’s mindsets about what makes a victim just that is not ok, and was, to me, just as much a mistake as trying to handle a school shooting plotline so soon after the Newton tragedy.
With episodes like these running every week now, I honestly think “Glee” has begun to bite off more than it can chew (more so than usual). Remember the first few episodes of the show, when the biggest problem anyone had was that they didn’t get the solo or stage part they wanted? There’s a reason the show became relatively popular even when it was so simple: because it got its audience, and knew how to make a decent albeit silly high school drama that was about the characters, not the songs and not the hot topic issues. (That, obviously, is no longer the case, as the characters have clearly just become a way for the studio to manufacture new song covers out to the public – but that’s a separate problem.)
There’s also a reason its ratings have plummeted since its second season: it did, and continues to, totally lose touch with its roots. And not even in a good way.
While I understand the need to try and mature the show over time, the truth is, the show can’t be mature on a number of levels. It’s about a high school glee club. It takes place in high school. It is, by nature, going to be immature - and should not be taken seriously. It's meant to be a drama and a comedy - something it hasn't been in a long time.
Fighting its very nature has pulled the show down, and by trying to juggle more and more plots with more and more characters while also tackling more and more issues in the need to be "serious" and/or boost ratings, this original idea that made for an amazing first season is getting more and more lost in the fog of bad writing, poorly handled controversial matters, and plain tastelessness.