Glee Tackles the Tough Topics
Helping Kids Go Back To School
The TV musical sensation GLEE has been a magnificent success in its second series, bringing more show stopping tunes, dazzling dancing and witty one-liners. But most importantly, Glee has also brought to our screens contemporary issues in society and has tackled these tough topics in a sensitive yet effective manner. Here are some examples we have seen this series:
One of the biggest issues Glee has covered this season is bullying. All members of Glee are continually subject to bullying as they are considered to be the ‘school losers’ and are frequently drenched by slushies. The New Directions have a strong attitude against the bullies and stick up for each other. Kurt in particular, played by Chris Colfer, experiences the brunt of bullying at McKinley High to the extent that he decides to move schools to Dalton Academy where a strict anti-bullying policy is enforced. It is testament to Glee and their effective treatment of this issue that Chris Colfer has gained leading status and reputable accolades including a Golden Globe award, demonstrating the worldwide appraisal of the series. Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus have admitted that they have been subject to bullying and Demi Lovato has openly spoken about being bullied. Demi has also created a ‘Teens Against Bullying’ video to increase awareness and to help combat the problem.
The main reason why Kurt is tormented and antagonised at McKinley High is because of his sexual orientation and his strong nature to not conceal this from his peers. Glee celebrates Kurt’s self-assuredness and demonstrates to young teenagers who are confused about their sexuality that they should be proud of who they are. Blaine, Kurt’s love interest who fronts Dalton Academy’s Warblers, provides Kurt with help and reassurance and reinforces the fact that Kurt should be who he wants to be if it makes him happy. Santana and Dave Karofsky both experience mixed feelings about their sexuality and are not ready, like Kurt, to be open about this issue. Glee demonstrates the confusion that sexuality can create for individuals but helps to show the teenage audience that when the time comes, people will be there to help you through.
Effects of Alcohol
We’ve all been there, having one too many to drink the night before work or school the next day and walking around with your friends wearing matching sunglasses. Ok maybe the last part is just Glee. Whilst Glee portrays this issue in a humorous and light hearted manner, the message is still very prominent about the serious effects of alcohol. Finn provides an enlightening discussion about the different effects of alcohol: Santana is the weepy drunk, Mercedes and Tina are the hysterical drunks who find everything funny and then Rachel and Blaine share a drunken kiss. Yet Finn doesn’t touch a drop of alcohol, showing that teenagers do not have to bow to peer pressure and can abstain from drink if they choose to. During the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two, Daniel Radcliffe has also spoken about the damage of excessive alcohol consumption and the destructive nature it can have. Radcliffe states at one point he was dependent on alcohol but since giving it up has become a lot happier. Glee helps to shed light on these issues and have created fantastic role models for teenagers to look up to.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Cleaning every grape individually, organising pamphlets on the desk and turning rigid at the thought of anything being messy. These are just some of the examples Emma Pilsbury’s OCD, a condition that is often not acknowledged within TV series. Glee illustrates the different characteristics of OCD and shows the help that is available for those who are living with it, as Emma herself decides to finally accept medical advice to control the disorder in Series Two. However, it is refreshing to witness Emma’s approach to her OCD, accepting that it is part of her and part of her personality with the overall message hopefully helping those who are dealing with OCD on their own. Several celebrities also suffer or have suffered with OCD, including Jessica Alba, Leonardo Di Caprio and Cameron Diaz but all have made their peace with the condition to prevent it from ruling their lives.
Physical Appearances and Plastic Surgery
Growing up can be an extremely difficult time for adolescents and the pressure of physical appearance is growing to be an ever more increasing concern. When Rachel is hit in the face by Finn and breaks her nose, the singer uses the opportunity to consider plastic surgery to change her features, despite the protests from her fellow members in New Direction. However, Rachel comes to the conclusion that she likes the way she looks and does not want to revert to plastic surgery. However, unlike Rachel, Quinn has had plastic surgery and has no regrets about her decision. It is rare for a TV show to depict a story of someone whose life was changed for the better by surgery, but this further highlights the groundbreaking and genre-defying success of Glee. In fact, it is a more accurate depiction of real life, where plastic surgery can help benefit some but can also go horribly wrong.
In a school like McKinley High, being popular is a massive issue and the school social ladder is a continual theme running throughout the whole of Series Two; several characters including Santana and Quinn are desperate to be at the top and be the most popular girl in school. Yet Glee and the members of New Directions show that as long as you have a caring group of friends that will always stick by you and you are happy with yourself if doesn’t matter what your school status is. Being popular isn’t everything! And the ‘Born This Way’ episode epitomises this as the Glee members all wear t-shirts with their insecurities written on them. For instance, Finn’s says ‘Can’t Dance’ and Mike’s says ‘Can’t Sing.’ Parents should remember that Glee shows teenagers that they should embrace these and be proud of who they are!
Glee: The Complete Second Season arrives on Blu-ray and DVD September 13th, 2011 featuring never-before-seen bonus footage and the popular "Glee Music Jukebox".
One person will win Glee: The Complete Second Season on DVD.
Leave a comment with which issue from above that you think high schoolers have to face the most OR leave a comment with which issue from above that someone you know is currently dealing with.
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