Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Lessons of Glee

As you've probably figured out, I work night shift. Because of this, I see very little television; usually just snippets while I'm at work. When I'm home, I tend to spend my time reading. Recently, though, my husband got us set up with something called Roku. I don't know how it all works, but somehow we're able to get television and movies from NetFlix, Amazon, etc.

Last night I actually turned it on and started watching old episodes of the TV series "Glee".I know it's been on for several years now. I have seen re-caps of it on the YouTube channel of Buck Hollywood. I didn't know what all the fuss was about; I though it was just a teeny-bopper show. (LOL, isn't that a 1960's word?)

Sure, the musical numbers are a bit cheesy. I don't know if the actors are actually singers as well, it's possible the voices are supplied by others. One thing I did notice, though, is that the overall theme of the show seems to be acceptance. Acceptance of who you are and acceptance of others, especially if they are different from you. I'm sure all of you remember how high school was. This must be a universal thing; I doubt that my high school was any different than yours. There were "the popular kids", "the athletes", "the stoners", "the loners", etc. I went to a very small Catholic school, but if we were larger, I'm sure we would have had "the band kids" and "the theater kids" as well.

Every episode of Glee seems to bring in a new group of kids, and shows them learning how to accept one another, even against prejudice and fear. The kids are learning that although they may have different interests,backgrounds, and families they are still basically the same. Everyone has fears about fitting in, about being accepted, and about learning to love themselves.

The last episode I watched last night was especially poignant to me. There is one character, Kurt, who fulfills most of the stereotypical ideas of a gay kid. He dresses in a bit of a flamboyant style, he loves to sing and dance, he has lots of girl friends, etc. He also has a father who is the stereotypical tough guy. He wants Kurt to be a real guy's guy; play football, not dance around in a unitard lipsyncing to Lady Gaga. One of Kurt's friends inadvertently blurts out that Kurt has joined the football team, so Dad is thrilled and wants to go to Kurt's first game. This puts Kurt in the position of having to actually try to get on the team to fulfill his father's expectations.

To make a long story short, Kurt does manage to get on the team and eventually finds the acceptance (although grudging) of the jocks. Kurt goes home that night and 'comes out' to his father as gay. Surprisingly enough, Kurt's dad says he's known that Kurt is gay since he was three years old.(All he wanted for his birthday was 'sensible heels'!) Exceeding all of Kurt's expectations, his dad is accepting and tells Kurt that he loves him no matter what his orientation is.

I thought this was a wonderful example of how life should be for all the teenagers (and even adults) who are having trouble accepting who they are. I suppose that's naive of me, but there you are. There are probably millions of people out there who live lies because they are afraid they won't be accepted by those closest to them. And certainly there are lots of examples of kids or adults who take their own lives because of this. Jamey Rodemeyer is the most recent example.

This show has long since been shown on national TV. I hope that there were a few families who watched the show together and were able to find acceptance in their own lives.

You all have probably also picked up that I have strong feelings about suicide, from my own experiences. I've never had anyone close to me go through this, and I hope I never do. But I also hope that if there's anyone out there struggling with feelings of fear, worthlessness, or despair that they find someone close to them they CAN talk to. The loss of one person is the loss of something precious, and the loss of great potential. Can you imagine how our world might be without just one person?

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