How I Stopped Ignoring Glee for an Episode

Kelly Clarkson makes the world a better place just by existing.

While I started out a huge fan of Glee, many of you know that after Season 1 my appreciation has waned. First the ability to create a multi-episode story arch (let alone a season-long one) disappeared, and then the music slowly started to deteriorate. I’ll tune in from time to time, or steal an iTunes download from my sister, but by and large I’ve checked out. That is until my sister texted me saying, “Just watch. Now.” She also followed up by saying she cried and there was a commercial for the Trevor Project. Cut to me making sure my DVR was set so I could watch it without commercial interruption.

I have been critical of Glee‘s depiction of the gay community in the past. On the whole, it makes it appear as if every homosexual in America needs to carry a bedazzled members only card, and wear awkwardly tight clothing that most Europeans wouldn’t even touch with a ten and a half foot pole. And even though Glee (despite appearances) isn’t a show entirely about the LGBT individuals, it does a shameful job of representing the multifaceted nature of the gay community. But then the series airs an episode like last night’s, and you can’t help but be proud that there are shows like this on television. This week’s episode was possibly the most tasteful approach in addressing teen bullying and suicide that I have seen. It only showed enough of the actual attempt so that the viewer knew what was happening. The exchange between Quinn and Kurt was not only a balanced depiction of the responses many people go through after this type of situation, but the acting was also believable. It shed light on a sensitive subject that most shows would shy away from, but not once during the episode was the actual act of suicide “glorified.” Having gone to NYU, I unfortunately learned that some studies show that overly sympathetic messages from schools and communities may encourage other students to copycat. The principal even brings up that he was warned to be careful in how the issue was addressed to the students. And while I don’t personally agree with ignoring the tragedy that a life is lost with every suicide, despite being at the person’s own hand, Glee did the right thing by including that element as part of the script. Last night was one of the most responsible episodes Glee may have ever produced.

If all of that wasn’t enough, the girls performed Kelly Clarkson (see above). Granted the reference to “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” was a little forced – the song is about a breakup, not literally a failed suicide attempt. A better choice may have been P!nk’s “Perfect,” but hey, I’m not writing the show. Either way, when a show can be a force for positive change in the world, I’ll gladly take a few songs that take artistic liberties with the message. As someone who was bullied pretty relentlessly growing up and through most of high school, I’m just thankful that there are people who are trying to prevent others from suffering through what so many of us already have, regardless of what makes each of us “different.” I’m proud of who I am, and I’m proud that I can be a part of the solution.

Ciao Bella!

Matteo Yazge

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