Glee’s Major Misstep

For decades, television shows have mimicked real-life events. Shows for younger people are especially famous for doing this as to drive home a point and discuss current issues faced by adolescents. For the most part, this concept is a good one that can potentially teach kids valuable lessons. However, this past week’s episode of Fox’s hit television show, Glee took it one step too far.

All of us can vividly recall the tragic events that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut a mere four months ago. Twenty six innocent lives were lost in a massacre shooting that should have never happened. In an attempt to raise awareness of gun violence and possible mental health issues, Glee’s latest musical showcase featured a cut and dry “school shooting.” There was not any back story or discussion after the event occurred. It seemed to be just thrown into the middle of an episode where it truly didn’t belong.

gleeThe Glee kids are in the choir room when suddenly a “pop pop” is heard and everyone is told to hide. The camera shoots empty hallways and then shows all the cast members safe and sound. In the end, Becky, a student at McKinley High School and reoccurring Glee character, relieves only to another teacher, that she brought a gun to school to protect herself. Becky has Down Syndrome and doesn’t feel prepared to take on the real world so she thought a gun could protect her. Her teacher and mentor, Sue Sylvester takes the gun from her when it accidentally goes off and causes alarm throughout the school. Sue also ends up taking the blame for the incident and is asked to leave McKinley.

This was not a school shooting but rather a false alarm that caused a bit of panic. After all of the recent events, in particularly in Newtown, having or showing a gun in a school is just not right. It is too soon, featured on a show that younger children watch. There was also no discussion about the incident, no set-up or follow-up. Viewers of all ages were left to draw their own conclusions.

Additionally, this episodes touches the very sensitive topic of mental illness. Becky is visibly scared to enter adulthood in the episode. While the fear is natural, I don’t know if putting a gun in her hands was the best way to deliver that message. Some of the shooters in recent events did have mental disabilities, but without any discuss or accountability, the message Glee was trying to send was lost.

I understand why an episode like this was featured on a show like Glee. The audience is young and impressionable; they might actually listen to singing high school students. But, the timing and delivery were off. If they would have waited longer and executed the episode with more intention, it might have worked. I am not an expert and do not have any experience in this area. However, sometimes it is not about the media or entertainment but about human emotions trumping everything else.

A clip from the episode is below. Take a look and share your thoughts.

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