Just got back from the gym, where I watched last week’s episode of Glee on my phone. I’ve mentioned Glee before, both positively and negatively, but this episode really left a foul taste in my mouth. Spoilers abound in this post, so be warned.
The idea of a very special episode must be difficult for TV producers to resist: they have an audience, they have a soapbox, and they often have pressure from outside sources to address a particular issue. Traditionally, it’s been things like drugs or underage drinking, suicide, death, and so on. Often the motivation is benign, although you do have cases like Buffy’s producers trying to tap into government funding for anti-drinking messages in TV shows. (On the other end of the spectrum, you have shows like Clone High which ended each episode with a teaser for next week’s “very special episode of Clone High.”)
This episode of Glee was clearly about bullying, and specifically anti-gay bullying. Kurt, the show’s gay character, continues to deal with homophobic bullying, and the glee club coach notices that it’s “getting to him” But heaven forbid the coach should actually DO something about it! Like, y’know, suspending the responsible party, engaging other teachers – or even the students! – to try and prevent bullying, or doing anything other than talking to Kurt about it. To make things worse, the coach wonders why Kurt is letting the bullying get to him.
Let me repeat that, in case you missed it: the coach – the adult, the authority figure, the ostensibly supportive party – asks the teenager why the bullying and physical abuse is bothering him so much more than it used to.
So. Fucked. Up.